Ovulation is a term used to describe when an egg is released from your ovary into your fallopian tube. This usually takes place a week or two before the start of your next period. The timing of when you are due to ovulate may vary from cycle-to-cycle.
The importance of ovulation:
During each menstrual cycle, there are reproductive hormones produced which include estrogen and progesterone. These two hormones work together to restore the ovaries. Depending on the response of these hormones, follicles will form and grow in the ovaries. An ovarian follicle contains egg cells that are released when ovulating. Each follicle has an oocyte that is produced in the ovary during female gametogenesis. The oocyte has three key phases namely; proliferation, growth, and maturation. Several oocytes will start developing at the beginning of each new menstrual cycle where usually only one dominant egg is released.
When does ovulation occur?
The ovulation process may occur anywhere between day 11 and day 21 of your menstrual cycle. Every woman’s ovulation cycle may be different and everyone has their own schedule as to when it occurs. It is typically said that on day 14 you will start ovulating, however this is just an average benchmark. “One study found that fewer than 10% of women with 28-day cycles were ovulating on day 14. Usually, when a woman says they’re ovulating, they’re referring to the especially fertile period of two to three days that precede ovulation. If we assume ovulation occurs somewhere between day 11 and day 21, this extra fertile period can occur as early as day 9 of the menstrual cycle and as late as day 22”, says registered nurse Rachael Gurevich.
What are the signs and symptoms of ovulation?
- Breast tenderness
- Lower abdominal pain
- Spotting or discharge
- Increase in sexual desires
- Cervical mucus changes
- Changes in the cervix (becomes higher, softer and more open)
What are the challenges of not ovulating?
Some women may not experience ovulation signs and symptoms during their menstrual cycle. When females do not ovulate once in a while, this may be a concern. This is called anovulation, which refers to ovaries that do not release an oocyte during a menstrual cycle.
Symptoms of anovulation:
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Experiencing either a light or heavy flow
- Lack of cervical mucus.
- Irregular basal body temperature (BBT)
- Imbalance of hormones
There are many ways in which women can track their ovulation period for example; an ovulation calendar method, ovulation predictor kits, basal body temperature charting (BBT charting), and tracking cervical Mucus changes. If you are trying to conceive, it would be helpful to track your ovulation by ensuring that you are targeting the most fertile window in your cycle.