Maybe you didn’t learn about ovulation in school—I certainly didn’t! But now that you’re starting to think about getting pregnant or just becoming more aware of your hormonal health, it keeps popping up everywhere. What is peak ovulation and why is it important?
Let’s learn the basics, so that we can enter this next phase of the menstrual journey with awareness and a better understanding of how the body works.
What Is Peak Ovulation & Why Is It Important?
Ovulation is the process by which a woman’s body releases an egg from the ovary. This occurs about once a month, typically around day 14 of a 28-day menstrual cycle (although this can vary). It is necessary for pregnancy to occur.
How to Tell If You are Ovulating
There are several signs and symptoms that can indicate that you are ovulating. Some of the most common include:
- A change in basal body temperature: Your basal body temperature is your body’s temperature at rest. It tends to be lower before ovulation and higher after ovulation. This is because the hormone progesterone, which is released after ovulation, causes a slight increase in body temperature.
- A change in cervical mucus: During ovulation, your cervical mucus becomes thinner, clearer, and more slippery (like egg whites). This is because the hormone estrogen causes an increase in blood flow to the cervix, which in turn increases the production of cervical mucus. It’s important to learn what peak ovulation looks like for you.
- Mild pelvic pain: You might experience mild pelvic pain or discomfort on the side of the ovary that is releasing an egg. This is known as mittelschmerz (German for “middle pain”), and it is caused by the egg being released from the ovary.
How Long Does Ovulation Last?
Ovulation typically lasts for about 24-48 hours, but this can vary depending on the individual. If you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s important to have sex during your fertile window.
The fertile window typically begins about five days before the egg is released and ends about 24 hours after the egg is released. You can confirm what is peak ovulation for you and that it has occurred by using an ovulation predictor kit.
Can You Get Pregnant with Irregular Periods?
Irregular periods can make it more difficult to predict when you are ovulating and when your fertile window is. However, it is still possible to get pregnant if you have irregular periods.
Factors That Can Affect Ovulation
Certain factors can affect your ability to ovulate, such as stress, illness, excessive exercise, and certain medications. In some cases, it can be disrupted by conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or primary ovarian insufficiency (POI).
Increasing Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
If you are trying to get pregnant, there are several things you can do to increase your chances. These include:
- Eating a healthy diet. A healthy diet can help to balance hormone levels, regulate your menstrual cycle, and improve your overall health, which in turn can increase your chances of getting pregnant.
- Getting regular exercise. Regular exercise can also help to balance your hormones, regulate your menstrual cycle, and improve your overall health.
- Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can interfere with hormonal health and reduce your chances of getting pregnant.
- Tracking your menstrual cycle. By keeping track of your menstrual cycle, you can better predict when you are most likely to ovulate and have sex during your fertile window.
Abnormal Ovulation and What to Do About It
Abnormalities or disruptions can occur as a result of a variety of factors, including hormonal imbalances, stress, illness, and certain medications. If you are having difficulties getting pregnant, it is important to talk to your doctor. In some cases, fertility medications or other treatments may be necessary to help you ovulate and increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Why Ovulation Is Important Even When You’re Not Trying to Get Pregnant
Ovulation is a key part of the menstrual cycle and our overall reproductive health. The release of an egg from the ovary to be fertilized by sperm is necessary for pregnancy to occur. In addition, however, this event is an important part of maintaining overall health.
The hormone estrogen helps to regulate the menstrual cycle and maintain the lining of the uterus. Progesterone, the hormone produced after ovulation, helps to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If the levels of these hormones become imbalanced, ovulation can stop occurring, leading to infertility, as well as a variety of other health problems.
If you experience irregular periods, which can be a sign of hormonal imbalances or other underlying health conditions, it can be difficult to predict time of ovulation and your fertile window. This can make it more difficult to plan for pregnancy if you choose to become pregnant in the future.
In the meantime, ovulation is also important for maintaining overall health. The hormones produced during ovulation help to regulate the menstrual cycle and maintain reproductive health. This in turn can help to prevent a variety of reproductive system related health problems, including endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Ovulation is an important part of maintaining a regular menstrual cycle and supporting overall reproductive health, even if you’re not currently trying to get pregnant. By understanding its importance, you can take steps to maintain your reproductive health and prevent potential health problems.