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- Knowing about ovulation is important, especially if you experience it yourself.
- There are a number of misconceptions surrounding reproductive health
- INSIDER found out everything you need to know about ovulation
Ovulation is important but if you’re not actively trying to get pregnant, you might not actually know that much about the process. Knowing about ovulation can help you understand more about your body and your reproductive health.
In order to better understand ovulation in general, INSIDER turned to several experts to get the low-down.
What is ovulation, anyway?
If you don’t know much about the process of ovulation, besides the fact that you might experience it, you may not even understand what it is in the first place.
“[Ovulation] refers to the release of the egg from the ovary [and] occurs once a month,” Dr. Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, who is double board-certified in OB/GYN and maternal-fetal medicine, told INSIDER. “Once the egg is released it ‘lives’ or is viable for about 24 hours after ovulation.”
How can I tell if I’m ovulating?
Ovulation is important regardless of whether or not you’re trying to conceive, so it’s important to understand if you might be ovulating or not. If you have a typical menstrual period of an approximate 28-day cycle, you’d be ovulating on day 14.
“You do not have a menstrual cycle and a period unless you ovulate. If you bleed, but it’s not related to ovulation, that’s not a period. That would be what we would call dysfunctional uterine bleeding,” Dr. Felice Gersh, MD, an OB/GYN, founder of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, and the author of “PCOS SOS: A Gynecologist’s Lifeline To Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones and Happiness,” told INSIDER.
If you think that you’re not ovulating regularly, it’s important to raise the topic of conversation with a trusted and qualified expert. “If a woman is not ovulating regularly, it may be a sign that there is a problem and she needs to be evaluated by either her [gynecologist] or a reproductive endocrinologist,” Dr. Cary L. Dicken, a fertility specialist and medical doctor with Trellis, told INSIDER. Seeking medical attention is a good idea, whether you’re trying to conceive or not.
How can I tell when I’m ovulating?
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Knowing when you’re ovulating is important if you’re trying to conceive.
There are a few ways that can give you an indication that you might be ovulating right around this time. “Home ovulation kits can predict the timing of ovulation,” Dicken said. “Women can also track their cervical mucus. BBT (basal body temperature) can help confirm ovulation, but typically the temperature rise is two to three days after ovulation.”
These methods aren’t perfect, especially if your period is irregular, so it’s best to ask your doctor for more specific guidance.
How can my lifestyle affect ovulation?
In addition to stress, there are other things within your life that can potentially affect ovulation. The time of day that you work may also play a role.
“We now know, for example, that the ovaries have very significant receptors to melatonin,” Gersh said. “The ovaries themselves are circadian, there’s rhythm within the ovary itself with a 24-hour rotation of the earth.”
That means if you’re working an overnight job, it could have an impact on when and if you ovulate.
Does stress affect ovulation?
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Stress can affect your life and your health in a number of ways, so you’re not entirely off base if you suspect that it may play a role in disrupting normal ovulation as well.
“Stress produces a hormone, cortisol, which can impact the delicate balance of hormonal fluxes necessary for ovulation,” Gaither told INSIDER. “Stress can come in the form of strenuous exercise, lack of sleep, worry.”
Is ovulating early or late a problem?
If you ovulate early, you might find that you get pregnant while on your period, though it’s not likely. “If you ovulate early, and have sex – sperm can live in the genital tract for about five days … so the possibility exists that you may become pregnant,” Gaither said. Understanding when you ovulate and using protection if you’re trying to actively avoid pregnancy is important.
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