Ovulation and Conception
Ovulation in humans is the process by which ovarian follicles rupture and release one or more mature eggs from the ovaries. On average, ovulation occurs within the 4 days before or after the midpoint of a woman’s menstrual cycle (14 days before the start of a woman’s next menstrual period).
Day 10-18 of the menstrual cycle (on average) is the most fertile phase of the menstrual cycle. This is important when trying to conceive because fertilization of the egg can only occur for 12-24 hours after release during part of the luteal phase when a mature egg travels through the fallopian tubes towards the uterus.
Since sperm can survive inside a woman’s body for up to five days, regular sex five days before and on the day of ovulation can improve the likelihood of conception.
If fertilized, the egg will implant in the uterus 6-12 days later. Otherwise, menstruation occurs, and blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus is expelled.
Many people would like to predict their ovulation date, mostly to increase their chances of getting pregnant. The following are a few common methods for doing so.
Tracking Menstrual Cycles
This ovulation calculator uses the method of tracking menstrual cycles in order to predict when ovulation occurs. Since day 10-18 of the menstrual cycle is typically the most fertile phase of the menstrual cycle, women with regular cycles can fairly easily determine when they are ovulating and most likely to conceive.
Menstrual cycles vary between women, however, and a person without a 28-day menstrual cycle may need to track their menstrual cycle to more accurately determine when ovulation might occur.
The first day of the menstrual cycle is the day that bleeding starts, and it ends the day that bleeding starts again. It can be helpful to maintain a menstrual calendar to determine how regular your periods are. If they are irregular, other methods may be more accurate for estimating when ovulation will occur.
Tracking Basal Body Temperatures
Basal body temperature (BBT) is measured using a special thermometer. This is your temperature when you first wake up in the morning. BBT is generally at the lowest level right before ovulation occurs. It starts rising by about ½ a degree a day during ovulation.
Tracking BBT over a few months can help you determine when you are ovulating and most likely to be able to conceive. However, there are other factors involved that can affect your BBT, such as having a cold or infection. In these cases, measuring BBT would likely not be a good indicator of ovulation.
It is also possible to use an over-the-counter ovulation test that tests for a surge in some specific hormones that precede ovulation by 24-48 hours.
While these tests are 99% accurate in detecting the specific hormones, they cannot guarantee when exactly ovulation will occur within the two-day period. These tests typically measure the level of luteinizing hormone (LH), which, when released in high quantities (and under other conditions), triggers ovulation.
There are also ovulation predictor kits that can test changes in the estrogen level in saliva or salts in the sweat, which change during the month and can be related to the menstrual cycle.
These changes generally occur earlier than the hormonal changes (LH increase), and can therefore predict ovulation earlier. Unlike LH tests, this does require more preparation in terms of tracking the levels of these markers to determine a baseline level.
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