What is Ovulation?

Twelve to sixteen days after ovulation, a woman will begin a new menstrual cycle.
Ovulation occurs halfway through the menstrual cycle that begins on the first day of a woman's monthly period.
Pregnancy can occur if sexual intercourse takes place two to four days before ovulation, and at least a day after ovulation.
Recording body temperature daily may help a woman keep track of ovulation cycles.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Ovulation is an integral part of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Though it occurs about midway in the cycle, which begins on the first day of a woman’s period, it affects the entire cycle. However, ovulation can be split into an accelerated time of activity before an egg is released from an ovary, and a time of deceleration, after the egg or ovum is released.

As a woman begins her period, her body is in the follicular phase of ovulation. The body, or more specifically, the hypothalamus gland, recognizes this pre-ovulation state and releases hormones to the pituitary gland. On receiving these signals, the pituitary gland produces a hormone called follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which will allows follicles in an ovary to start maturing into an egg.

During ovulation, generally only one egg is released. Even though several follicles along the ovaries may begin to mature, only one ovum actually will be released during ovulation. The rest of the stimulated follicles simply disintegrate.

Once the follicles have produced a fully mature ovum, estrogen is released into the body. This signal that the body is ready to ovulate must be met by a hormone response from the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. They in turn release luteinizing hormone, which causes the egg’s release.

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The release of estrogen and of luteinizing hormone during ovulation tends to result in some women experiencing pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Women may also have cramping during ovulation, or notice a bit of spotting. The body temperature does rise slightly during this time period, and vaginal mucus becomes thicker. Many women may also feel the desire to be more sexually active prior to ovulation.

From a scientific standpoint, rise in body temperature, vaginal mucus and interest in sexual intercourse are all beneficial when one wants to produce a baby. They can help predict, depending upon the regularity of one’s cycle, when one is most likely to get pregnant.

Once the ovum is released and travels down one of the fallopian tubes, ovulation is complete and the body enters the luteal phase of the menstrual period. Estrogen and luteinizing hormone levels drop, but the body begins to produce progesterone. The uterus is lined with a thickened material that assists in egg implantation.

As progesterone is released, this lining will essentially thicken a bit more. However, the body also recognizes when the ovum in ovulation is not fertilized and dissolves. Unfertilized ova tend to live for about 24 hours after ovulation has occurred. Some 12-16 days after ovulation, this lining will be shed from the body at the beginning of a woman’s next menstrual cycle.

Though ovulation can sometimes occur on a predictable schedule, this is not always the case. Stress or illness can delay or force early ovulation, which can cause either late or early periods. Adding to the difficulty to pinpoint exact time of ovulation and the window of fertility, it is important to note that male sperm can live for several days in the uterus. Pregnancy can occur if sexual intercourse takes place two to four days before ovulation, and at least a day after ovulation.

Unlike the male sperm, a woman is born with all her immature egg cells. Male sperm, on the other hand, is manufactured on a rather constant basis. Lastly, though young women may not be aware of this, it is possible to get pregnant without ever having experienced one’s first menstruation. The cycle to mature an egg follicle and thus produce ovulation will occur before a woman has her first period.

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Discuss this Article

anon924235
Post 10

Why does the ovum need to 'mature' in the follicle before ovulation can occur?

anon38194
Post 6

What is the solution if the ovulation happens and the sperm is healthy but the egg is not opening to accept the sperm?

anon24445
Post 5

want to know naturally how many eggs generate in a cycle in a woman. And after taking clomid, how many eggs generate in a cycle in a woman?

anon17254
Post 4

Sperm can live about few days in uterus, egg can live about 24 hour after ovulation has occurred, they will meet at fallopian tubes. How much time the egg need spent to travel to fallopian tubes? and how much time sperm need spent to travel to fallopian tubes?

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