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What is ovulation?

Ovulation – is a phase of a menstrual cycle occurring every month. Its essence lies in the release of a mature egg being ready for fertilization from the ovarian follicle. At this time, the chances of getting pregnant are higher than ever.

The process when ovulation occurs depends on the hypothalamus, which regulates the work of the anterior pituitary gland. The female gamete develops in a follicle that secretes the hormone estrogen. After maturation, a rupture occurs, and the gamete leaves the follicle. This occurs most often between the 11th and 21st days of the menstrual cycle, and the chances of becoming pregnant are maximum. The duration of egg leave from the follicle is about 1 hour, and once it enters the fallopian tube, the cell retains the ability to fertilize for 3 days.

Ovulation in a woman determines the possibility of getting pregnant, so this is an important process for conception.

What are the symptoms of ovulation?

When an egg leaves the follicle, the following ovulation symptoms appear:

  • Increased vaginal discharge. They become more viscous, thicker and are considered precursors of ovulation
  • Increased temperature. The woman does not feel a slight hyperthermia, but when measuring the temperature, an increase of 0.5 degrees is noticeable
  • Nagging pain. This is one of the signs of the onset of ovulation, since the process is accompanied by a spasm of small vessels and the participation of cytokines – proteins of the immune system that provide interaction between cells. Soreness can be one – or two-sided. Pain occurs due to the ingress of fluid inside the follicle into the pelvic cavity. Pain sensations can spread to the low beck, sacral bone, groin, and intensify with physical exertion. The duration of the pain attacks ranges from a few minutes to 24 hours. If the soreness persists, it may be a sign of endometriosis, so medical help is required
  • Changes in the breast. The woman feels swelling, sensitivity, and increased soreness. However, if the breasts become hot, redness or discharge from the nipples is observed, this is a reason to consult a doctor and do an ultrasound urgently
  • Pain in the abdomen, bloating, short-term spasms
  • Increased sexual desire. This symptom during ovulation is observed several days before the start of the process
  • Sensitivity to smells, tastes, strong bright light, frequent mood swings

Signs of ovulation can take place with different intensities, depending on the individual characteristics of the female body.

How to determine ovulation?

There are several ways to calculate ovulation – a test and calendar, folliculometry and basal temperature measurement.

Test and calendar method

To calculate ovulation, you can use these types of tests:

  • With the help of urine. This is a special test that reacts to an increase in luteinizing hormone (LH) in the urine. Such a hormonal “jump” occurs before the leave of the egg, so ovulation will begin the next day. To do this, you need to urinate in a sterile container, lower the test strip into the liquid to the stop line, hold it for about 5 seconds and remove it. The result will appear in 5-10 minutes. If the test strip is pale compared to the control, there is no increase in LH. Morning urine is not suitable for testing: it is too concentrated and the result may be false positive.
  • With the help of saliva. There are also tests that can detect ovulation by changes in the composition of saliva. To do this, you need to put a drop of saliva on a glass slide, let it dry and examine it under a microscope. The level of estrogen and salts in saliva rises 3-5 days before ovulation. Because of this, the visible pattern resembles fern leaves.

Also, a woman can use a calendar method to find out when she is ovulating. The method is effective only if a calendar of the menstrual cycle is maintained, and the woman knows exactly the timing and duration of menstruation. Given that the cycle lasts 28 days, then ovulation occurs on the 14th day. Given that the sperm remains viable for 5 days, 10-14 days of the cycle are considered the most favorable. You can calculate your ovulation date online on our website.

However, this method, which allows you to determine the day of ovulation, is ineffective if the woman has irregular menstruation, the postpartum period and lactational amenorrhea, and is over 40 years old. Also, the correctness of the calculations is affected by the rejection of hormonal contraceptives or birth control pills, if very little time has passed.

Folliculometry

This is a procedure in which the activity of the ovaries is observed with the help of ultrasound – the degree of maturation of the follicle from the day of the onset of menstruation. It is performed using an ultrasound scan with two sensors on the 8-10th day, and earlier in case of an irregular cycle. The method allows:

  • To identify the presence and period of ovulation for competent planning of conception and pregnancy
  • Determine the luteal phase, examining the characteristics of the corpus luteum
  • To assess the general hormonal background and the state of the reproductive system

Also, the procedure will help to identify pathologies that affect ovulation – the discrepancy between the state of the ovaries and the uterus to a certain phase of the cycle, changes in the endometrium, and impaired follicular development. The duration of 1 session is about 15 minutes. For girls who have not had sexual intercourse, the procedure is carried out through the abdominal wall, in other cases – travaginally.

Basal temperature measurement

Basal temperature is measured only at rest. The optimal time is after sleeping in the morning before getting out of bed. For this, the same thermometer is used, otherwise the indicators may differ. Indicators during the whole cycle are shown in the table:

Phase of the cycle Indicator (in degrees Celsius)
The first one 36,4-36,7
During ovulation 37-37,2 (remains the same for 12-16 days)
Right before menstruation 36,4-36,7

Basal temperature is measured in three ways:

  • Rectal. Measure after sleeping for at least 3 hours. For this, the tip of the thermometer is lubricated with a water-soluble hygienic material, and inserted into the rectum by 1 cm. The measurement time is 1-3 minutes
  • Orally. Smoking, hot or cold drinks are not allowed before the procedure. The tip of the thermometer is placed in the hyoid fold, the mouth is kept closed. Measurement time is 3-5 minutes
  • Vaginally. The thermometer is inserted into the vagina to a depth of 4-5 cm, the temperature is measured within 5 minutes

During ovulation, there is a sharp jump in basal temperature, indicating the leave of the egg and dividing the cycle into 2 phases. Normally, the temperature difference in the first and second phases is 0.4-0.5 degrees. If the temperature indicators are not normal and ovulation does not occur, it is important to do a blood test for FSH, to determine the causes of infertility, for example, post-hemorrhagic anemia, which can interfere with conception.

Are there any “safe” days?

If the menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, then 1-9th and 18-28th are the safest days. Theoretically, during this period, you can not use contraception, since 10-17 days of the cycle are considered favorable days. However, the effectiveness and accuracy of the calendar method is controversial, since its error is up to 20%, and according to the Pearl index – 9-40%. Most often, to calculate “safe” days, the Ogino-Knaus method is used, which is calculated by the formula:

  • The beginning of fertile days is equal to the duration of the shortest cycle and minus 18 days
  • The end of the fertile period is equal to the duration of the longest cycle and minus 11 days

For example, the shortest cycle in the last six months of a year is 26 days, and the longest is 32 days. Then the fertile “dangerous” period begins on the 8th day of the cycle (26-18), and ends on the 21st (32-11) one. Accordingly, relatively “safe” days are before the 8th and after the 21st day of the cycle.

Why does anovulation occur?

Anovulation is the absence of ovulation, which occurs when the menstrual cycle is irregular: the ovarian follicle does not rupture, and the egg does not come out from follicle. There is a physiological anovulation that occurs during pregnancy and lactation, during puberty or during menopause.

The pathological reasons for the absence of ovulation are as follows:

  • Dysfunction of the pituitary gland and hypothalamus due to malignant or benign neoplasms
  • Hormonal disbalance. This is an increased level of prolactin, hyperandrogenism, thyroid disease.
  • Change in weight. Obesity or anorexia are the causes.
  • Ovarian wasting syndrome or early menopause
  • Stress, psycho-emotional stress, depression

Ovulation also does not occur with genital endometriosis, which is characterized by the proliferation of the endometrium in the uterus, ovaries, and vagina. The foci of pathology look like dense nodules, where the epithelium exfoliates and disintegrates during menstruation. The disease is dangerous because endometriotic nodules can degenerate into adenocarcinoma, grow into tissues and organs and destroy them. Symptoms include pelvic pain, increased intensity and duration of menstrual bleeding, pain during intercourse, infertility, and bleeding between periods.