What happens on ovulation days?
At a certain level, estrogen triggers the release of the gonadotrophin hormones, which collectively cause ovulation to occur – and an egg to be released into the fallopian tube. The combined effects of these hormones include an increase in sexual desire in women before ovulation and a rise in resting body temperature shortly after ovulation. The egg lives for around 12 to 24 hours and unless it meets a sperm in the fallopian tube, it will leave the body.
How can you identify the most likely ovulation day in your cycle?
This assumes that you have a 28-day cycle; but most women vary somewhat from the ‘average’ cycle. It can be very hard to identify ovulation days without having a clear understanding of your cycle, so if you can, try to chart your menstrual cycle for a few months to try to identify a pattern.
There are a number of ways that you can chart your cycle. The most effective methods combine the possible symptoms of ovulation, the tracking of your basal (at rest) body temperature and the composition of cervical mucus.
You should see a pattern after a couple of months, although ovulation does not always follow this pattern and can be affected by such factors as stress, illness, physical activity, and changes in diet.
Why many contraceptives prevent you from identifying ovulation days
This is because the action of these synthetic hormones will override your body’s usual hormonal rhythm and, while you are taking these drugs, your body will not usually ovulate.
The main contraceptives that affect your body’s usual cycle of ovulation using synthetic hormones are all contraceptive pills, any injected contraception, implants that slowly release hormones from underneath your skin and vaginal rings which release hormones.
‘Mechanical’ contraceptives – such as condoms or non-hormone laced IUDs (intrauterine devices) or diaphragms – can still be used safely while you track your body’s usual ovulation cycle.
Why is it important to predict the ovulation day?
If you have a good idea of your usual cycle and can interpret the various signs and symptoms your body usually exhibits before ovulation, you can make sure you have intercourse during your most fertile period, thus maximizing your chances of getting pregnant.
Now I know my likely ovulation day – when is the best time to have sex?
Most general expert advice is just that – very general, and every woman’s body will be different. Because so many factors affect ovulation – and because it’s hard to identify the most likely ovulation day until it’s almost too late – the most effective strategy is to have sex regularly at least every two days throughout your cycle.
Your chances of getting pregnant are much greater if you have sex before the ovulation day rather than at ovulation or later, because by the time the sperm swim to the egg, you may have missed your ‘window.’
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.