Why is ovulation so important for pregnancy planning?
To begin with, we will understand what ovulation is. This is the moment the egg leaves the ovary into the fallopian tube, after which it becomes available for sperm. The egg lives for about 24 hours 1, and then the “fertilization window” closes. Thus, during the entire menstrual cycle, there is only one day in which a woman can conceive a child.
You may have heard from your friends that they became pregnant on the day when there were no symptoms or signs of ovulation. They are mistaken in their feelings: without a lively and accessible egg, fertilization is impossible in principle. But there are nuances. First, sex that will cause pregnancy does not have to happen on the day of ovulation. Spermatozoa that reach the cervix or overcome this barrier remain viable for up to three, sometimes five days 2. This means that they can wait until the egg “leaves the house.” Secondly, the day of ovulation may not come in the middle of the cycle, but sooner or later due to the individual characteristics of the body, changes in hormonal levels, stress and other reasons.
When does ovulation occur?
This occurs around the middle of the menstrual cycle. With an ideal course of an ideal 28-day cycle, this event will happen on the 14th day. However, in reality, the egg release period varies widely, so the calendar in this matter is an unreliable assistant 3. Relying on special sensations is also not worth it. However, there are certain signs of ovulation in women, with which you can understand when a favorable day for conception comes.
As can be seen in this illustration, follicular maturation starts from the beginning of menstruation, and on the day of ovulation, the egg leaves it. At the same time, an increase in body temperature * 4 and an increase in the level of luteinizing hormone * 5 are observed. These two symptoms are one of the main symptoms. We will tell you more about them.
How to detect ovulation by temperature change?
During the day, the human body temperature changes, and it reaches the lowest point in the resting phase, i.e. during a night’s sleep. This temperature is called basal, and in the dynamics of its change, you can see signs of ovulation in a woman.
In the early days of the menstrual cycle, the basal temperature stays at approximately the same level. The day before ovulation, it decreases by a fraction of a degree, and on the main day for future pregnancy, it increases, and above the level of the beginning of the cycle. It is important to understand that all these “jumps” are hardly noticeable: the temperature after ovulation is only 0.3-0.6 degrees higher than the temperature before it. However, due to the characteristic pattern (almost direct, short-term subsidence, rise above the initial level), these signs can be recognized.
How does the luteinizing hormone help determine ovulation at home?
The concentration of luteinizing hormone increases significantly shortly before ovulation and then also drops sharply 5. The principle of operation of special test strips, which can be bought at most pharmacies and in many supermarkets, is based on this feature. The ovulation test is very similar to the pregnancy test and has the same mechanism of action: you need to wet a strip of urine and wait for the result.
Can a gynecologist recognize signs of ovulation in a woman?
Naturally! He can see the symptoms even visually. The cervical canal is filled with the so-called cervical mucus – it protects the uterus from the penetration of harmful microorganisms, as well as sperm. During ovulation, the mucus liquefies * 6, becomes more fluid to open the sperm to the egg. A specialist is able to notice these signs during a gynecological examination.
There are more modern methods for recognizing ovulation. Firstly, the main instrument of gynecology and obstetrics is ultrasound 7. Secondly, the same test for a luteinizing hormone that you can do at home. Only in the clinic blood is taken for analysis, and laboratory equipment measures the level of the hormone in numbers and confirms ovulation with great accuracy.
Unfortunately, not all women have the opportunity to visit a specialist for several days in a row. But if you have one, this is, of course, an ideal option.