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All you need to know about Ovulation

If you are planning to start or grow your family, you will certainly be interested in learning all there is to know about ovulation. With this knowledge, you will be able to take the necessary measures to increase the likelihood of becoming pregnant. Family planning can be an exciting time for you and your partner. However, if you are not familiar with how it all works, it can sometimes end up in frustration instead. Here, we answer the common questions that come up regarding ovulation. We hope this helps you in your journey towards family planning!

What does the ovulation process entail?

Simply put, ovulation takes place when an egg is released from either your right or left ovary every month. The egg makes its way through the fallopian tube into the uterus, where if it is fertilized by a sperm, you will become pregnant.

You may observe certain changes to your body during ovulation. The trick is to monitor your body every day during your cycle to pinpoint when you are ovulating.

When am I most fertile?

This is the question that many of us would like answered so that we can optimise our chances at pregnancy. 

The 5 days before ovulation up to the day that the egg is released is the period you are most likely to conceive. Ovulation normally happens 12 to 14 days before the start of your next menstruation.

Your egg is viable for 24 hours after it is released from your ovaries. Sperm has a much longer life span, it can live in a woman’s body for as long as 7 days.

How can I tell that I am ovulating?

Women often feel different and experience some changes to their body during the ovulation process. Here are some signs that may indicate you are ovulating:

  • Your vaginal discharge is different when you are ovulating. It becomes thinner and takes on a slippery feel. It appears almost transparent in appearance. This mucus is actually being released from your cervix as it softens and opens.
  • You may observe fluctuations in your body temperature. Just after ovulation, your temperature may be slightly higher than your baseline.
  • You may experience mild abdominal cramping. This is quite normal.
  • You may notice an increase in your sex drive during this period.
  • Some may observe light spotting on the underwear. Usually, there is no need to be alarmed by this occurrence.
  • You may have some swelling or a feeling of fullness at the genital region

What is the purpose of ovulation discharge?

As previously mentioned, vaginal secretions changes during ovulation. You produce more discharge, which is usually clear or white in colour and slimier to the touch. There is a reason for this. The consistency of ovulation discharge facilitates the movement of sperm up to the cervix so that fertilization can take place.

How can I track my ovulation?

There are several ways you can track your ovulation period or fertile window. Most women opt to use a combination of methods if they are very keen to become pregnant. Here are some of the ways you can keep track.

Menstrual calendar
If you know how long your menstrual cycle usually is, you can estimate your ovulation period. The number of days of a menstrual cycle varies for each individual, but the average is 28-31 days. If your periods are regular, your ovulation period is in the middle of your cycle. You can count the days manually or use an ovulation app. There are several available, just choose one that works best for you! Again, we reiterate that this method should only be used for women with regular periods.

Vaginal secretion monitoring
Here is a guide on how your vaginal secretions are supposed to look at different times in your cycle:

  • Days 1-5: Menstruation occurs.
  • Days 6-9: There is very little cervical mucus.
  • Days 10-12: Significant increase in vaginal discharge of a sticky, off-white nature. 
  • Days 13-15. Mucus takes on a clear, translucent, slimy texture, similar to egg white. This is your most fertile time.
  • Days 16-21. Vaginal discharge changes back to the off-white sticky appearance.
  • Days 22-28. Vagina becomes dry as your next menstrual period approaches.

Body temperature
Your body temperature rises just after ovulation and remains elevated till your next menstruation. Your most fertile period is the 2–3 days before this increase in body temperature. You should check your temperature every morning before getting out of bed and before any food or activities.

However, you should be mindful that your body temperature can be affected if you are unwell or if you are on certain medications.

Ovulation prediction kits
These kits are very easy to use, and you can use them in the comforts of your own home. 1-2 days before ovulation, a hormone in your body called luteinizing hormone (LH) increases rapidly, this is known as the LH surge. Much like a home urine pregnancy test, all you have to do is to pee on the ovulation test kit and it will indicate if you are undergoing this surge, thereby allowing you to identify the most fertile days in your cycle.

Why didn’t I get pregnant?

Even if you carefully track your ovulation and time your sexual activity accordingly, you may still not fall pregnant. Unfortunately, there are other factors that can also affect your ability to get pregnant. Here are some of the causes of infertility: 

  • Low sperm count
  • Ovulation irregularities due to hormonal issues (there are times when an egg may not be released, or poor-quality eggs are released instead)
  • Structural problems of the reproductive organs (e.g. blocked fallopian tubes, cysts, fibroids, endometriosis)

When should I consider fertility tests?

If you have been trying to conceive for 6 months to a year, you and your partner may want to visit your doctor to discuss more about fertility testing.

Starting a family is an important chapter in anyone’s life. For some, it may happen spontaneously, but for others it may require some time and effort. The key is to never give up and remember to have fun with it. The journey of adding another member into the family should be a labour of love that you and your partner thoroughly enjoy!

If you have any concerns about your ovulation or your fertility in general, visit one of our clinics in Singapore and our doctors will be ready to help you.

References

  1. Duffy, D. M., Ko, C., Jo, M., Brannstrom, M., & Curry, T. E. (2019). Ovulation: Parallels With Inflammatory Processes. Endocrine reviews40(2), 369–416. https://doi.org/10.1210/er.2018-00075
  2. Prior, J. C., Naess, M., Langhammer, A., & Forsmo, S. (2015). Ovulation Prevalence in Women with Spontaneous Normal-Length Menstrual Cycles – A Population-Based Cohort from HUNT3, Norway. PloS one10(8), e0134473. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0134473

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