Whether you’re trying to get pregnant — or not get pregnant — it’s important to know when ovulation occurs. Ovulation is the prime indicator of when you’re fertile, meaning you’re able to get pregnant. But figuring out when ovulation takes place can be confusing.
What Is Ovulation?
Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from one of your ovaries. Once the egg releases, it travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus.
If a sperm fertilizes the egg, it implants on the lining of the uterine wall, where it develops into an embryo.
If no fertilization takes place, the uterus sheds its lining and the menstrual cycle begins again. During each cycle, a woman’s body is preparing for pregnancy.
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When Do Females Begin to Ovulate?
Once a girl gets her period (usually around age 12), she will typically start ovulating with each menstrual cycle. Once a woman goes through menopause and her periods stop, she stops ovulating.
When Does Ovulation Occur?
Ovulation typically takes place between day 11 and 14 of your menstrual cycle. Day one of the menstrual cycle is the first day of your period. A typical menstrual cycle is 28 days, but some degree of variation is normal.
However, menstruation and ovulation don’t always occur like clockwork. Some women have more irregular cycles than others. Doctors consider any menstrual cycle between 21 and 35 days within the normal range.
How many days does ovulation last?
Ovulation itself refers to the release of the egg each month. A woman’s egg lives about 12 to 24 hours after ovulation.
However, a man’s sperm can live for three to six days in a woman’s reproductive organs. It’s possible to become pregnant if you have sex at any time from six days before ovulation to one day after ovulation. If you’re not planning to get pregnant, you should use birth control during the time you might be ovulating.
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What Are the Signs That You’re Ovulating?
While predicting the exact time of ovulation can be tricky, there are some ways to estimate when ovulation happens.
- If your periods are regular, the time you ovulate probably will be too. Ovulation usually occurs between day 11 and 14 of your menstrual cycle.
- Your cervical mucus increases. Cervical fluid protects the sperm and helps it move toward the fallopian tubes and uterus. The amount of mucus in your vagina increases as you’re getting ready to ovulate.
- Your temperature rises slightly.
- Some women may have tender breasts.
- Some women may feel bloated.
How Can You Keep Track of Ovulation?
If you’re trying to get pregnant, you should keep track of when you ovulate. It’s best to keep a chart instead of relying on your memory. A chart will give you a clear indication of patterns in your period, and other signs of ovulation.
You can keep track of:
- What day your period begins. This is a good way of finding out how regular your periods are.
- Your basal body temperature (BBT). There’s a small rise in BBT (0.5-1 degree F) when ovulation occurs. The best time to take your temperature is when you first wake up in the morning, before doing any activity.
- Your cervical mucus. When your period is over, the vagina is dry, with no cervical fluid. Just before ovulation, the mucus becomes clear and slippery, like an egg white. If the fluid stretches when you spread your finger and thumb apart, ovulation is likely near.
- Results from an ovulation predictor kit. These over-the-counter (OTC) kits are available at most drug stores and are especially helpful if you have an irregular menstrual cycle. An ovulation predictor kit checks the urine for luteinizing hormone (LH), the hormone that triggers ovulation.
If you’re unsure of when you’re ovulating, check with your ob-gyn for more information, along with questions or concerns about getting pregnant.
NHS, How can I tell when I'm ovulating? Link
National Library of Medicine, Pregnancy — identifying fertile days, Link
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office on Women's Health, Your menstrual cycle, Link
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office on Women's Health, Trying to conceive,, Link
NHS, Starting your periods, Link
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Built upon our flagship, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, and its century-plus history of providing high-quality medical care for people at all stages of life, UPMC Magee-Womens is nationally renowned for its outstanding care for women and their families.
Our Magee-Womens network – from women’s imaging centers and specialty care to outpatient and hospital-based services – provides care throughout Pennsylvania, so the help you need is always close to home. More than 25,000 babies are born at our network hospitals each year, with 10,000 of those babies born at UPMC Magee in Pittsburgh, home to one of the largest NICUs in the country. The Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee in Pittsburgh as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; U.S. News & World Report ranks Magee nationally in gynecology. The Magee-Womens Research Institute was the first and is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology, with locations in Pittsburgh and Erie.