What Is Ovulation?

Trying to get pregnant can be a lot of fun, but it can also become frustrating if it doesn’t happen easily or naturally. For some couples getting pregnant happens without any thought or preparation; for others it may require research to understand how the body works and using that research to benefit and enhance fertility.

Basic female anatomy teaches us that ovulation is where the matured egg travels down the fallopian tubes during the menstrual cycle. It is at this stage where the woman is the most fertile, a good time for reproduction and conception when met by the male’s sperm. But what does all that mean?

According to Clearblue, ovulation is the process which happens once every menstrual cycle to trigger an ovary to release a matured egg; it usually happens 12 to 16 days prior to the female’s period. It is only at the point where a mature egg meets a healthy sperm that a woman can become pregnant.

As the ovulation cycle begins, the body produces an increase in the amount of estrogen which is essential to creating an environment to host the beginning stages of pregnancy. It causes the lining of the uterus to thicken. At the same time that the increase in estrogen is happening, another hormone called Luteinizing releases the mature egg from the ovary. This is what is known as ovulation.

The period of ovulation typically occurs 24 to 36 hours after the Luteinizing surge and typically indicates peak fertility. The mature egg can only be fertilized for up to 24 hours after ovulation because after that point in time the menstrual cycle will begin to shed the lining of the uterus.

To further understand ovulation, it is medically broken into three stages. Stage one is the follicular phase where the uterus lining begins to thicken; a layer of cells around the ovum create a mucus-like substance and begin to expand. Stage two is the ovulatory phase where the mature egg travels from the ovary down the fallopian tube, a process that typically lasts from 24 to 48 hours. Stage three is the luteal stage where Luteinizing is secreted, and the possibility for a fertilized egg to be implanted into the uterus is heightened. If conception does not happen at this stage, the egg and secretions dissolve and are reabsorbed or discharged by the body during menstruation.

We are fortunate to live in an era where information is freely available online through medical professionals and is a topic now acceptable for open conversation. Not all bodies are created alike, but for the most part, most reproductive stages are typical for most. Understanding how the body works is elemental in understanding every aspect of life and understanding how the process of ovulation can help you better understand conception.