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Ovulation - Fact & Myth

Lori Ramsey


Most women have been taught that ovulation occurs on day fourteen of their cycle. Armed with this, women have intercourse around this day, and avoid intercourse if they wish to avoid pregnancy. Why, then, are so many women not conceiving, when they thought they should be? And why are so many other women conceiving, when they avoid intercourse on the day they thought their ovulation day?

Ovulation occurring on day 14 is a myth.

Ovulation can occur as early as day six, and much later than day fourteen. There are many factors involved in the timing of ovulation including hormones, stress, and your health

Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), estrogen, luteinizing hormone (LH), and progesterone are the hormones of the female reproductive cycle. Any imbalance in these hormones can impede or prevent ovulation.

Follicle stimulating hormone

The first hormone to appear in a woman's cycle is FSH. FSH begins its peak production at the beginning of the cycle - while the uterus is shedding its lining. FSH prompts a woman's ovaries to produce about 15 to 20 mature eggs. Each of these eggs are encased in its own follicle. These follicles then produce estrogen.


Estrogen begins surging through the body roughly three or more days before ovulation. This causes the cervical fluid to be clear, thin and stretchy*. This type of cervical fluid is referred to as "egg-white cervical mucus" or "ewcm". EWCM offers the best mode of travel for the sperm to get to the egg.

The high levels of estrogen prompts the release of luteinizing hormone (LH). The surge of LH causes the egg to actually come out of its follicle. The time period from which ovulation occurs and a woman's menstruation is called the luteal phase (LP). The average length of time during LP is 12 to 16 days long. The LP, however, can be longer or shorter. An LP shorter than 10 days is considered deficient in progesterone, and is unable to maintain a pregnancy. There are measures to increase the LP, such as hormone therapy and/or herbal and vitamin supplements. No matter what day a woman ovulates, she can always tell approximately what day her menstrual cycle will begin, or what day to take a pregnancy test.

With the collapse of the follicle, a "corpus luteum" forms.


The corpus luteum begins producing progesterone - the hormone that helps maintain the uterine lining long enough for a fertilized egg to implant. Progesterone is responsible for raising the basal body temperature, also known as the "warm hormone." If a woman is charting her temperatures, she should be able to tell that she had ovulated by an upward shift in her daily basal body temperature. A drop in progesterone signals the body to begin shedding the uterine lining, thus bringing on menstruation.

Stress and Your Health

If pregnancy is the goal, it is extremely important to have intercourse around the time of ovulation, preferably right before, or during, ovulation. Sometimes a woman's body can prepare for ovulation and release all the right hormones, and stress will halt the process. Vacations, moving, company or anything that causes undue stress, can delay ovulation until the woman is at peace and relaxed again.

The role of hormones combined with the woman's state of health - sick or stressed, determines when and if ovulation occurs.

Sometimes ovulation does occur on day 14, but this is, by far, not the rule. Because the different elements that bring about ovulation can be varied or interrupted, it is safe to say that ovulation can occur at any point in the cycle, and not the day 14 that so many people once believed.

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Showing 1 - 10 out of 11 Comments
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Srija RC Jul 26, 2018 11:17:18 AM ET

Hi. I went through your article. I have a problem. I had my last period on 10th June. Now it's been 1 week. I am having mild cramps but no period. I searched throughout the internet...and here I am all confused. Please help.

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Jo Ann Sep 15, 2017 01:13:03 AM ET

First day of my last period was August 1st. Since then I had a lumpectomy and the lymphnodes connected to it removed. I should have started around September 3rd. I did 3 home pregnancy tests and one at the hospital and all said positive. They said I was probably about 6 weeks along. They did an ultrasound and the tech said she couldn't see anything, so they took blood for another pregnancy test and I'll have the results tomorrow. But since then I've done another 3 tests (all different brands) and still all positive. What are the chances that they could all be a false positive?

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Guest Mar 8, 2013 12:04:07 AM ET

Two years ago I was Diagnosis with PSOC which makes it difficult to get pregnant. My husband sperm is abnormal but has the ability to fertilization to occur. Currently I am attending treatment at IVF and under observation to figure our when do I ovulate. I realize two eggs on the 12th day from the day my period started. However, my eggs is not mature enough to get pregnant. On day five the right ovary release one egg that was size 17 and the left ovary release an egg that was size 13. On day 14 the egg next to my right ovary is size 19 and the left is size 17. Still my egg is not the right size for me to get pregnant. I would say, it depends on the person.

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michele Oct 17, 2012 04:13:43 PM ET

Iam 37 and trying to conceive,its been a year and still nothing,when is the best time to have intercourse,is three too four days before my period good?

Pearlz Jun 12, 2018 07:14:28 AM ET

Good time to have intercourse is 2 days prior to your ovulation,which normally occurs on day 14 of your last period. i was also trying to conceive for a while until i tried this. after my doctor told me i conceived in the 3rd month after i started temping my temperature. i know how hard it is,but best of luck to you.

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tina Sep 14, 2012 02:51:19 PM ET

I had tow children and they are girls and on my third pregnancy i did every thing possible to make a baby boy but i still turn out to be a period is 27 days and i had sex with my husband on the 15th day it turn out a baby girl,what do i do,i any thing wrong with me and why have i not been able to concive a baby boy.

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Jenfrmdblok Aug 22, 2012 08:31:55 AM ET

I had sex with my ex on June 21st and then got back with my current boyfriend and had sex with him the following days consecutively till about July 3d and found out I was pregnant. Im really confused now who's it might be? I'm hoping it's my current boyfriends? But is their a chance for it to be my ex? My doctor said I conceived June 30 two days prior or after. I could not remember when was my last period but according to my ultrasound I'm about 9 weeks now? Can someone help with advice?

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Curtisha Mar 20, 2012 08:17:07 PM ET

I definitely agree. I had sex once, just a week before my period was due and became pregnant with my first child. So I'm still trying to figure out how, if I am "suppose" to ovulate & be fertile two weeks before my period.

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Anabel Feb 8, 2012 12:42:26 PM ET

Thanks so much for sharing am really TTC and i tell you its stressful but knowing when you ovulate might be easier.Thanks

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maha Mar 21, 2011 06:04:54 PM ET

Very clear and informative article

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Kim Aug 31, 2010 06:46:05 PM ET

I really enjoyed reading this article. A lot of unanswered questions were answered for me today.I'm now clear On the topic of ovulation. Thank you Love it!!!!!

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