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When do you ovulate? Demystifying the ovulation cycle

Questions like when do you ovulate, and what is ovulation, can be hard to answer.  We’d like to help you understand the facts.


Ovulation happens in the middle of your cycle, 14 days before the start of your next period.


If you have a dependable 28-day cycle, expect to ovulate on the 14th day. But cycles vary from month to month.


Since ovulation is so unpredictable, there’s a lot of information out there to help you figure out when you might be ovulating.


It helps to know all your options for determining when you’re ovulating and when your most fertile days are.


What is ovulation?


Ovulation occurs every month when your hormones tell your ovaries to release a mature egg down the fallopian tube.


Ovulation is a single event: the releasing of an egg.


“Fertile days” are a window. You are at your most fertile 5 days before ovulation or the day after.


Sperm can survive in your body for three to five days.


That’s why having sex up to five days before ovulation still gives you the opportunity to conceive.


When do you ovulate?


All cycles are different. One way to think about our cycles is that you’re likely to ovulate four days before or after the middle day of your cycle.


Also pay close attention to the signs and symptoms of ovulation when monitoring your cycle.  You can also rely on over-the-counter ovulation kits, though they vary in accuracy.


How long does ovulation last?


Not long: ovulation lasts about 12 to 24 hours.


The “fertile window” lasts longer than that though.  Sperm can be in your body for three to five days beforehand your ovulation day and you can still conceive.


Signs of ovulation


The signs of ovulation are nowhere near as obvious as your period.


Tune into your body and pay attention to your body temperature, your cervical mucus, and the feel of your cervix.


Additionally, some feel a little flutter in their lower belly when their ovaries release an egg.


Here’s what to look for:


Changes in body temperature


Ovulation may increase your body temperature up to one degree. You likely won’t notice this change in daily life, but you may be able to track it with a thermometer.


Changes in cervical mucus


You will have an increase in cervical mucus just before ovulation.  It will likely be thinner and more slippery than usual.  After ovulation, it becomes thicker.


Pregnancy is most likely during the days when your cervical mucus is thinnest and most slippery.  The frustration in tracking cervical mucus is that not everyone has a lot of it.


Changes in your cervix


The closer you get to ovulation, your cervix actually changes.  It dilates and feels soft.


After ovulation, it feels harder.


This isn’t a highly explicit way to know you’re ovulating.  It can be difficult to monitor. It’s also inconvenient to try to reach all the way up to your cervix every day.


Overall, there are still a lot of unknowns in determining your personal ovulation cycle, and that uncertainty can impact when a pregnancy test is most accurate as well.


Hopefully you can use the above indicators to get a better sense of how your personal ovulation cycle works.


So when do you ovulate?  There’s no one answer.  It’s not always easy to tell when you’re ovulating, but it doesn’t have to be impossible.