While this is a topic that would have been covered in secondary school biology classes it never hurts to have a refresher course.
Simply put, ovulation is a part of the menstrual cycle where a mature egg (also known as an ovum or the female gamete) is discharged from the ovary. Once discharged, it makes its way down the fallopian tube and is available to be fertilized by a sperm.
The process of a woman’s ovulation can be tracked. And many women get into the habit of tracking their cycles using an ovulation tracker or check the length using an ovulation calculator. Defined by the different periods of elevated hormones during someone’s menstrual cycle, there are three phases of the process.
Periovulatory – this is also known as the follicular phase and is the time where the uterus linen begins to thicken as a layer of cells around the ovum turns more mucous-like.
Ovulatory – also known as the ovulation phase, this is when the ovum begins moving towards the fallopian tube. This usually occurs over 24 to 48 hours.
Postovulatory – the luteal phase, this is where the womb is implanted with a fertilized egg and starts releasing hormones. An unfertilized egg, on the other hand, will stop producing hormones.
The Fertile Window
The best time to attempt to conceive would be during the “fertile window”. The fertile window is the period of time, usually six days before and during ovulation. Of those six days, three of them are when a woman is most fertile.
As a woman ovulates about two weeks before her next period, this is the small window of time where there is a higher chance of achieving pregnancy.
So, what does ovulation have to do with pregnancy?
As there are different periods during an average menstrual cycle where pregnancy is easier achieved. Which is why it is vital for women who wish to conceive to track their cycles and predict the most optimum times to attempt conception.
This can often be tricky, as many women’s cycles will vary and are often irregular. But there are signs that a woman can observe to pinpoint when her ovulation is about to occur.
This can be done using ovulation predictor kits. By first estimating the day you will begin ovulation, you can use the ovulation predictor kit and start the testing from the day you’ve estimated. Usually, this day can be calculated by subtracting 17 days from your average cycle. When the test is positive, you will most likely be ovulating within the next 24 to 36-hour period.
Another way is to take note of the consistency of your mucus or “discharge”. Around the time you ovulate, the mucus will be clear and slick, about the same texture of egg white. A sure sign that you are ovulating, this is the best time to attempt conception.