What is Ovulation?

Ovulation is the moment when the ovary releases a mature egg. The egg will soon start its journey down the fallopian tubes to reach the uterus. If the egg is fertilized during the ovulation process, it has chances to result in a successful pregnancy. The ovulation of a mature egg is usually estimated to happen near the 14th day of a 28 day menstrual cycle. For a woman with a 28 day cycle, ovulation can happen any day between the 11th and 21st day, counting the first day of your period as day 1. These ten days are roughly termed as the “fertility window.”

Each woman is born with millions of eggs in her ovaries. After puberty, each month, eggs mature inside one of the ovaries. The most mature egg is then released by the ovaries into the fallopian tubes. This is known as ovulation.

How to Identify Ovulation?

Our bodies follow an internal clock called the circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm will function properly if the body is exposed to a regular pattern of light and dark. Most often, people who work on night shifts or those who alternate between different kinds of shifts run into problems with their circadian rhythm. It is found that women who work night shifts have increased chances of having irregular menstrual cycles which might lead to infertility.

It is not difficult to pinpoint on the exact time when you ovulate. Engaging in sex often during your roughly estimated fertility window can increase your chances of getting pregnant. There are a lot of complicated journeys and occurrences happening during the pregnancy process, but it is safe to say that there are indeed ample chances of pregnancy after ovulation if fertilization happens in the 12-24 hour period following ovulation.

Is there a 100% chance of pregnancy after ovulation?

An egg can survive for 12-24 hours if it is not fertilized. On the other hand, sperm can live for up to 7 days inside a woman's uterus. Thus, having sex in the six days beginning from two days before ovulation gives you the highest chances of getting pregnant. This is why ovulation testing becomes necessary.

Though some people can get pregnant the first time they have sexual intercourse, others may try and try for months unsuccessfully. One of the aspects that determine whether or not you will conceive is your ovulation dates. A woman can conceive only if she has sexual intercourse after ovulation.

Whether you are asking this question to ensure or avoid pregnancy; it is entirely possible that there are chances of pregnancy after ovulation. If you have sex after your ovulation, while the ovary has already released the egg, it is possible for the sperm to reach the egg before it expires and fertilize it.

The ovulated egg should be fertilized within 12 to 24 hours. After this period, the egg is not viable for fertilization. Fertilizing the egg and forming the embryo does not always lead to pregnancy.

To call a pregnancy successful, the embryo needs to implant itself into the lining of the uterus. The cervical mucus aids the sperm to stay alive up to 5 days in the body and it takes about 6 hours for it to reach the fallopian tubes. If the sperm reaches shortly after the egg is released, you can get pregnant even after the day of ovulation.

What are the Causes of ovulation disorders?

For a woman to conceive, her ovaries must release an egg every month. This process usually begins at puberty and continues until menopause. However, in some cases, a woman may not ovulate regularly because of ovulation disorders. This can make natural conception difficult and lead to infertility. 

There are many causes of ovulation disorders. We discuss the causes of the ovulation disorder.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, PCOS

PCOS is probably the most common cause of infertility. It is marked by an excessive production of male hormones; testosterone and androgens and an imbalance in the production of estrogen and progesterone. This keeps the eggs in the ovaries from maturing and being released. Instead, the follicles containing immature eggs turn into tiny cysts on the rim of the ovaries.

Hypothalamic Dysfunction

The hypothalamus is a small region at the base of the brain that produces vital hormones and influences the functioning of the pituitary gland. Hypothalamic dysfunction affects the pituitary gland's production of LH and FSH hormones. These hormones are essential for ovulation. Without them, the woman's ovaries may not be able to release an egg every month. As a result, she may have irregular periods or may miss them completely.

Premature Ovarian Failure

Every woman is born with around 2 million immature eggs. From puberty onwards, one of these eggs matures and is released. Not all eggs mature, many are lost in the process of maturing which continue until menopause. However, in some cases, a woman's ovaries stop functioning long before menopause. This is known as a premature ovarian failure. Premature ovarian failure may be caused by genetic abnormalities, autoimmune diseases and exposure to toxins. This type of ovulation disorder cannot be treated and the woman may ultimately require egg donation.

Excess Prolactin

Prolactin is a hormone essential for breast milk production. It also inhibits the release of follicle stimulating hormone, FSH and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). These hormones play an important role in triggering ovulation. Hence an excessive production of prolactin can restrict ovulation which disrupts a woman's menstrual cycle, thereby posing difficulty in conception.

Thyroid Dysfunction

Thyroid dysfunction itself is a condition that interferes with normal ovarian function, thereby leading to irregular menstrual cycles. This may lead to difficulty in conception.

Moreover thyroid disorders can have adverse pregnancy outcomes if untreated during pregnancy.

Ovulation disorders can also be the result of stress, too much exercise and anorexia.

How long does it take to Ovulate and what are the steps/Process of Ovulation?

If you are planning to start a family, it is crucial to understand the way a woman’s body functions. When you start planning, keeping track of your cycle and knowing your ovulation time and how long it lasts become important. Every month, a woman of childbearing age undergoes a process called ovulation.

If you have a 28 day menstrual cycle, ovulation will happen around day 14. When a woman ovulates, an egg is released from one of the ovaries and travels through the fallopian tubes to reach your uterus. Your chances of getting pregnant depend on the ovulation and production of eggs and the life of a sperm inside the vagina during the ovulating period.

Step By Step Process of Ovulation

  • Between day 6 and day 14 of your menstrual cycle, the follicles in one of your ovaries start to mature
  • Between day 10 and day 14, an egg develops in a follicle
  • This egg is released from the ovary on day 14
  • A normal ovulation cycle lasts only for about 24 hours
  • The egg will not be viable after 12 to 24 hours if it is not fertilized in that short period
  • Unfertilized egg and the uterine lining will shed after roughly two weeks resulting in menstrual bleeding

Even though ovulation only occurs one day each month, it is possible to extend the chances of your pregnancy if you consider the life of a sperm inside the vagina. A healthy sperm can live up to five days inside the vagina. The key to increasing your chances of pregnancy is to start having sex about two days before you start ovulating and keep having frequent intercourse throughout your fertility window.

 

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