Ovulation happens when the mature egg is ejected from the ovary. The time of the menstrual cycle and ovulation is one of the most important things a woman should understand about her body since it is the determining factor in getting pregnant and preventing pregnancy.
The process can be confusing and somewhat overwhelming when trying to understand. If you still have further questions regarding ovulation, it may be helpful to talk with your health care provider. Being informed on what your body does, can help you feel more in charge of your health.
What Happens During Ovulation and the Menstrual Cycle?
So, what is actually happening inside your body each month? It’s all about hormones. And more importantly, it's all about the big O: ovulation.
A menstrual cycle is the time period between your first day of your menstrual period, the time you bleed, until the next time of your menstrual period.
The changes associated with ovulation and menstrual cycle are brought on by fluctuations in hormones at different times of the month. Most menstrual cycles are 28-29 days long - a variation of a few days more or less can be quite normal and small variations from cycle to cycle are also normal.
Cycle Day 1 (CD1) of the menstrual bleeding is referred to as Day 1 of the menstrual cycle. The length of the cycle is measured from Day 1 of one cycle (bleed) to Day 1 of the next cycle (bleed).
Your menstrual cycle length and the day of ovulation are directly related. Your menstrual period begins about 14 days after you ovulate. If ovulation occurs on approximately day 14 of a woman’s cycle then your next period starts about 14 days later and the cycle length is 28 days.
Ovulation happens when a mature egg is released from the ovary. It is then picked up by the fallopian tube and is available to be fertilized. The lining of the uterus has thickened to prepare for a fertilized egg. If no conception occurs, the uterine lining as well as blood will be shed. The shedding of an unfertilized egg and the uterine wall is the time of menstruation. The menstrual cycle can be divided into the following parts:
The ovarian cycle involves changes in the ovaries, and can be further divided into two phases:
Cervical mucus changes according to ovulation and your menstrual cycle.
The old thought that stress can affect your period is only partly true. Stress can affect your ovulation which ultimately determines when your period will come, but stress around the time of an expected period will not make it late—it was already determined when it would come 12-16 days earlier!
Important Facts to Know About Ovulation and Your Menstrual Cycle:
The uterine cycle involves changes in the uterus. It occurs in tandem with the ovarian cycle, and is divided into two phases:
A woman's monthly cycle is measured from the first day of her menstrual period until the first day of her next period. On average, a woman's cycle normally is between 28-32 days, but some women may have much shorter cycles or much longer ones. The cycle length depends all on when you ovulate. Ovulation can occur at various times during a cycle, and may occur on a different day each month.
Ovulation can be calculated by starting with the day the last menstrual period (LMP) starts or by calculating 12-16 days from the next expected period. Most women ovulate anywhere between Day 11 - Day 21 of their cycle, counting from the first day of the LMP.
The "fertile time" of a woman's cycle, is the time when sexual intercourse can get you pregnant, it's also called the "fertile window". The fertile window about 5-6 days long and it includes the day of ovulation and the 4-5 days prior to that day.
Tracking ovulation and the menstrual cycle can help a woman get a better idea of when pregnancy can and can not occur during her monthly cycle. Fertility Awareness is one way to track when ovulation occurs and it includes studying the changes in cervical mucus and using a basal thermometer. Cervical fluid will change to a wet, slippery substance that resembles "egg whites" just before ovulation occurs and until ovulation is over. A thermometer helps track a body temperature rise, which signals that ovulation has just occurred. Another way to track ovulation is through ovulation kits and fertility monitors. Once ovulation has occurred, there is nothing you can do to increase your chances of pregnancy. Your next step is to begin watching for early pregnancy symptoms.