Does ovulation only happen on Day 14?by Dianna Graveman | January 6, 2012 3:24 PM
Ovulation happens for most women about two weeks before their monthly period, but that doesn't mean it will happen exactly on Day 14. Typically, a woman will ovulate anywhere between 10 and 16 days before her next period. If your cycle lasts the average 28 days, you will most likely ovulate somewhere between Day 13 and 15--thus, the theory that Day 14 is the day.
However, as everyone knows, women's menstrual cycles differ. They may not last 28 days, they may shorten or lengthen with age, and they may vary based on stress, health factors, physical activity, or environmental influences. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, typically a healthy woman's menstrual cycle lasts somewhere between 21 and 35 days. It's possible for some women to have even longer and occasionally, shorter cycles than this.
You will begin to be fertile about four or five days before you ovulate, and remain so for one or two days. Fertility is highest day before you ovulate and the day after.
Obviously, even if you are generally very regular with a 28-day cycle, counting on a specific day of the month to become pregnant or avoid pregnancy is a bad idea. If you are trying to become pregnant or if you are using non-artificial means of birth control to keep from becoming pregnant, you will want to be aware of signals your body sends you each month to alert you to the fact that you are likely to be fertile.
A woman's cervical mucus will become clear and more elastic just before ovulation. When the ovary releases the egg, some women have slight abdominal cramps, typically called mittelschmerz, or "middle pain." It can last as little as a few minutes or as long as three or four hours. Many women also have an increase in body temperature right after ovulation, as much as one degree Fahrenheit. Paying attention to these signs around the middle of your cycle will help you predict when you are most fertile and likely to become pregnant.
Fertilization, if it occurs, will happen within 24 to 48 hours after ovulation. If fertilization does not occur, the egg will dissolve and be expelled about 12 to 16 days later, when you have your next monthly period.
An ovulation calendar or fertility chart can help you more carefully pinpoint your most fertile days. To use one, you will need to know the typical length of your menstrual cycle and the length of your luteal phase, the time between ovulation and the day of your next period. The luteal phase (Latin for "yellow body") is named for a small growth on the ovary's surface that occurs when an egg is released. It usually lasts about 14 days and does not vary much from woman to woman.
Even though stress, illness, and physical activity can cause changes in the length of a woman's cycle or delay ovulation, the luteal phase generally remains about the same from month to month. So you can calculate the approximate day you will ovulate by subtracting the number of days in your luteal phase from the length of your typical cycle, for example, 28 days minus 14. While you can request blood tests to determine exactly the length of your luteal phase, for most women, it is 14 days. It must be at least 10 in order for you to become pregnant, according to experts.
Of course, even with the use of a fertility chart and knowledge of your cycle's length and luteal phase, extreme caution should always be taken when attempting to avoid pregnancy without the use of artificial contraceptives. Pay attention to your body's signals, but always consult with your physician or fertility expert when considering pregnancy or when it is necessary for you to avoid it.
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