Ovulation is the process in a female's menstrual cycle by which a mature ovarian follicle ruptures and discharges an ovum (also known as an oocyte, female gamete, or casually, an egg). Ovulation also occurs in the estrous cycle of other female mammals, which differs in many fundamental ways from the menstrual cycle. The time immediately surrounding ovulation is referred to as the ovulatory phase or the periovulatory period.

Key Facts of Ovulation

• An egg lives 12-24 hours after leaving the ovary
• Normally only one egg is released each time of ovulation
• Ovulation can be affected by stress, illness or disruption of normal routines
• Some women may experience some light blood spotting during ovulation
• Implantation of a fertilized egg normally takes place 6-12 days after ovulation
• Each woman is born with millions of immature eggs that are awaiting ovulation to begin
• A menstrual period can occur even if ovulation has not occurred
• Ovulation can occur even if a menstrual period has not occurred

• Some women can feel a bit of pain or aching near the ovaries during ovulation called mittelschmerz, which means "middle pain" in German
• If an egg is not fertilized, it disintegrates and is absorbed into the uterine lining

Ovulation Cycle

Knowing the science behind your ovulation cycle can help you gain a better understanding of when you can be most fertile and have the best chance to conceive. Although it happens each month, your ovulation cycle is unique, customized to your body and influenced by what is going on in your daily life. Things like stress and a deviant change from your normal routine can bring about a significant change in your ovulation cycle, which can be distressing when you are trying to conceive.

The first part of the ovulation cycle is the follicular phase. Starting on the first day of the menstrual period, this phase continues until the ovulation occurs. This part of the cycle can last anywhere from 7 to 40 days, and can vary due to many factors such as age, stress, illness, travel etc.

The second portion of the cycle is called the luteal phase and starts on the day of ovulation until the period begins. This is a more precise timeline and is usually between 12 to 16 days after the day of ovulation. With this in mind, you can significantly alter your period with stress and a change from your usual routine because ovulation is very affected by these factors.

How do you know when you are ovulating? One way to track it is by studying cervical mucus and tracking your basal temperatures to know when ovulation has occured. Once you know your particular pattern, you can monitor it month by month to track your fertility times. With this knowledge, you can plan your intercourse around this time and then watch for early pregnancy symptoms. Of course, how often and when the best time to get pregnant occurs can be different for different people depending on their personal cycle.

If the egg has not been fertilized during the ovulation cycle, you will see your hormone levels drop significantly and your uterine lining will start to shed. This will take place roughly 12 to 16 days after the ovulation and you will have your period. Once this happens, a fresh month begins and a new ovulation cycle starts all over again. You can start your first day of the ovulation cycle on the first day of your period.

Although this seems confusing and complicated at first, understanding your ovulation cycle will help you find the best time to conceive. Maximize your chances when you monitor and track your body for a safe and easy pregnancy and conception experience.

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