During the month of October, we’re diving into all things ovulation, to help you live more harmoniously with your cycle.
Ovulation happens when a mature egg is released from the ovary. The egg then moves down the fallopian tube, staying there for 12 to 24 hours, where it can be fertilized by sperm.
Let’s say your menstrual cycle is pretty average, i.e. 28 days. Ovulation will typically occur about two weeks (14 days) before the start of your period. Of course, everyone is different, and your cycle may be longer or shorter depending on various factors. You can check out out free ovulation calculator to help determine your personal timeline.
Why track your cycle?
Fertility planning is a great reason to engage in ovulation tracking, as it helps identify your most fertile days, so you can increase the chances of conception if you’re trying to get pregnant.
Sperm can live inside the female reproductive tract for up to five days after sexual intercourse, and your opportunity to get pregnant peaks when live sperm are in the fallopian tubes during ovulation. It’s a good idea to understand when you’re ovulating and to have sex in the three to five days leading up to ovulation and immediately after receiving a positive ovulation test for the best odds at conceiving.
But ovulation tracking is not only for those looking to conceive. There are several other reasons why staying in tune with your body in this way can lead to a happier, healthier life. Here are a few:
- To help avoid pregnancy. Knowing when you ovulate provides you with more information and options if you are not looking to conceive.
- To predict menstrual symptoms. Premenstrual symptoms can be a huge pain, literally. Knowing when you ovulate can help you anticipate, prepare, and manage cramps, bloating, and your mental health during the lead-up to your period.
- Overall health monitoring. Irregular ovulation or menstrual cycles can be indicative of other underlying health issues, like hormonal imbalances. Tracking can help identify these concerns so you can address them with your doctor.
What if your cycle seems “off”?
If you are experiencing irregular or painful ovulation, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider to see what’s going on. These symptoms can be an indicator of several different health conditions or concerns, including the following:
- PCOS. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition that affects one’s hormones during their reproductive years. Those with PCOS may not ovulate or may ovulate irregularly. Some other signs and symptoms of PCOS include weight gain, excess body hair, acne, and fatigue.
- Thyroid Conditions. Both hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can disrupt ovulation. Atypical levels of the thyroid hormone can interfere with the release of the egg from one’s ovary.
- POI. Primary Ovarian Insufficiency occurs when the ovaries stop working as usual at a premature age, usually before the age of 40, and sometimes as early as the teen years. This condition is different from premature menopause.
- Lifestyle Factors and Stress. Extreme weight loss or weight gain, excessive exercise and poor nutrition can disrupt the menstrual cycle and ovulation. While the link between stress and ovulation is not as clear cut, some studies have found associations between stress levels and menstrual cycle regularity.
- Endometriosis. Endometriosis can cause severe ovulation pain—intense, prolonged pelvic pain that lasts longer than 48 hours.
How to track your ovulation:
How you choose to track depends on personal preference and lifestyle. A good place to start is with Ovry’s Ovulation Test Strips, which are great if you want to conceive, avoid pregnancy, improve your cycle monitoring, and/or become more in tune with your fertility and hormones.
These tests can be used alongside other tracking methods, such as cycle tracking apps or our free cycle tracker included in all Ovry Ovulation Test Strip kits. Make sure to examine these apps’ data privacy policies if this is a concern for you. If your cycle is fairly regular, a traditional calendar may work just fine. While less precise, calendars can be a convenient method for those who are relatively familiar with their body’s patterns.
Another way of detecting ovulation is basal body temperature charting. Your BBT is the temperature of your body while resting. Hormones change this temperature, and when you ovulate, the hormone progesterone leads to a rise in your BBT. Charting can help you find out when you tend to ovulate each month, so you can plan accordingly if you are trying to conceive or are looking to detect possible problems with your ovulation or luteal phase.
Whatever method you choose to track your ovulation, for whatever reason, we hope this info helps you understand your menstrual cycle a little better, and that it empowers you in regards to your reproductive health. Happy tracking!