What is ovulation? When does it happen? And why is it so important to keep track of it? What is an ovulation test? And what happens during ovulation?
Ovulation can be simply defined as a discharge of ovum (ripe eggs) from the ovaries. It is because of this process that life itself exists. With each passing month and menstrual cycle, an egg or more than one egg is released by the ovaries which is ready for fertilisation. While the ovaries prepare to release the egg, the reproductive hormones get ready for a potential baby and start to thicken the uterine wall.
But what does this have to do with pregnancy? We are at our most fertile during ovulation. Our ovaries have released a ripe egg, which is ready to be fertilised by sperm to turn into a potential embryo. This is a very narrow frame of time to work with, hence it is of utmost importance to keep track of when you’re ovulating. Simply because having sex while you are ovulating will lead to higher chances of pregnancy than when you are not!
Our menstrual cycles last for an average of 28 days, though some could be as short as 21 days and as long as 36 days. During menstruation, our bodies go through many hormonal changes. We usually ovulate 12-16 days before the next period starts. Your date of ovulation depends on how regular your cycles are and other factors in your environment. Ovulation tests are easily accessible and a cheap way to find out exactly when you are ovulating! Ovulation calculators are an easy online tool you can use to figure out the window of time you are in your fertile period! If you and your partner are trying to conceive, then this is the best time to go for it!
The question arises: Can I get pregnant right after ovulation? There isn’t any straight answer for this. Even though getting pregnant after ovulation is possible, it’s only in the 12-24-hour period after the release of the ovum. That’s right! The egg only survives for up to a day after its release, so you and your partner might have to try a couple of times around the time of ovulation, and act quickly. The good news is that the cervical mucus can keep the sperm alive for up to 6 days inside the cervix after penetrative sex! It takes around 6 hours for the sperm to travel up into the fallopian tubes to reach the egg. If all goes well and the sperm can reach the egg on time, then yes, you can get pregnant right after ovulation!
Here are some interesting facts about ovulation:
- Because sperm can live for up to 6 days inside the cervix, and an egg for only 1 day, you should try to have sex before the actual date of ovulations to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
- You can buy ovulation test strips that predict when you are ovulating in order to help you and your partner plan out when to try for a baby. Ovulation predictors are generally pretty accurate.
- Ovulation is known to increase both your and your partner’s desire for sex. It is nature’s way of saying, “hurry up and make a baby already!”
- Your vaginal discharge during ovulation will be distinctly runny, clear and very stretchy.
A number of things are known to affect ovulation. Your period, whether you have any type of autoimmune disease, if you are overweight or underweight, the list goes on. Let’s get into some of the factors that affect ovulation or fertility other than your menstrual cycle.
- Stress: Some levels of stress are considered normal and are even expected in a life like ours. But when there are higher-than-normal levels of stress present in the body, a hormone called cortisol increases. This tends to have ill effects on our day-to-day biological activities. Many symptoms like anxiety, heart palpitations, nausea, etc are caused because of it. Stress is also directly linked to your menstrual cycle. Studies have shown that women who experience heavy stress on a daily basis tend to have smaller menstrual cycles- or sometimes even skip menstruating for months on end. This negatively impacts the ability to conceive, since there is no ovulation taking place. It is important to not only look after yourself physically, but also mentally in order to live healthy! There are ways galore to help effectively manage stress and reduce its impact on your body!
- Unhealthy food habits: Doctors claim that any changes in food habits, whether it is overeating or not eating enough, has the potential to change how our menstrual cycles are on a monthly basis! Shocking, but true. Ovulation can also be skipped if enough nutrients or food hasn’t been consumed by the woman. Over-exercising is another culprit. There is a direct link between expending or overexerting energy and missed periods. So, eat healthy meals that include whole foods and don’t overexert your body!
What happens if I’m not pregnant after ovulating?
If you are a woman who has ever experienced a period, you already know the answer to this question. If fertilisation does not take place on time, then the egg simply disintegrates and with that, the thickened lining of the uterus sheds away. This shedding away is seen in the form of blood and mucus that is our period!
What happens if I do get pregnant after ovulating?
If the sperm manages to reach the egg and fertilise it, then an embryo is formed. An embryo is nothing but a very, very early stage of your baby! The embryo then attaches or implants itself onto the uterus. This is when you can take a pregnancy test, and/or visit your doctor to confirm that you are in fact pregnant. And there it will stay, all cosy for 9 months, expanding and growing into your little one until you are ready to push it out!