Everything You Need to Know About Ovulation
Most of us learned the basics about ovulation back in sex ed class, but there’s still a lot that many of us don’t know. If you’re hoping to conceive, or just want to be more in tune with your body, read on for everything you need to know about ovulation.
What is Ovulation?
Ovulation is the release of an egg from one of the ovaries. The egg then travels down the fallopian tube, where it may be fertilized by sperm. If fertilization doesn’t occur, the egg is shed during menstruation.
Ovulation usually occurs about midway through a woman’s menstrual cycle—i.e., about 14 days before her next period. However, because the length of a woman’s cycle can vary from month to month (and even from woman to woman), it can be tough to pinpoint the exact day on which ovulation occurs. That being said, there are some telltale signs that can give you a pretty good idea as to whether or not you’re currently ovulating.
Signs of Ovulation
1) An increase in basal body temperature: Basal body temperature is your temperature when you first wake up in the morning (before you even get out of bed). Many women notice that their basal body temperature increases slightly when they ovulate. This happens because progesterone—a hormone involved in ovulation—causes a slight increase in body temperature.
2) Changes in cervical mucus: Cervical mucus changes throughout your menstrual cycle. Just before and during ovulation, cervical mucus becomes thin and slippery—kind of like raw egg whites—in order to help sperm travel more easily through the cervix and into the uterus. After ovulation, cervical mucus becomes thicker and sticksier so as to prevent sperm from entering the uterus.
3) Breast tenderness: Many women report feeling gentle soreness or tenderness in their breasts around the time of ovulation. This happens due to hormonal changes related to ovulation and should go away after a day or two.
4) Abdominal bloating: Like breast tenderness, abdominal bloating is also caused by hormonal changes associated with ovulation. For some women, this may be a very mild discomfort; for others, it may be more pronounced. Again, though, it should only last for a day or two before subsiding.
5) Increased sex drive: Many women report feeling an uptick in their libido around the time of ovulation. This is likely due to an increase in estrogen levels during this phase of the menstrual cycle.
6) Mild cramping: Some women experience cramps on one side of their lower abdomen around the time of ovulation—kind of like period cramps, but not as severe. These cramps are often referred to as “mittelschmerz,” which is German for “middle pain.” Mittelschmerz typically lasts for only a few minutes up to a few hours and then goes away on its own without treatment.
7) Light spotting : Spotting—i.e., very light bleeding that resembles a period but is much shorter and lighter—can sometimes occur during ovulation due to the rupture of the follicle that released the egg. Spotting related to ovulation usually lasts no more than a day or two and is nothing to worry about unless it’s accompanied by other symptoms like severe pain or heavy bleeding . In which case, you should see your doctor right away .