- Anovulation Cycles
- Anovulation Treatment
- How Long Does Ovulation Last?
- Length of Ovulation
- Signs and Symptoms
- Track Ovulation
When can you get pregnant?
Whether you are trying to get pregnant or trying to avoid getting pregnant, it's important to understand your menstrual cycle and how it relates to your fertility. There are a lot of myths and misinformation surrounding fertility. Once you learn exactly how and when pregnancy can happen, you'll have a better idea of when you can and can't get pregnant.
You can get pregnant if you have unprotected sex anywhere from 5 days before ovulation until 1 day after ovulation. You can't get pregnant if you are not ovulating because there is no egg for the sperm to fertilize. When you have a menstrual cycle without ovulating, it's called an anovulatory cycle. There are a lot of underlying issues that can cause this. It's a common reason for infertility.
How do you know if you're ovulating?
Ovulation occurs when an egg is released from your ovary. It usually happens about 10 to 16 days before your period starts. It's difficult to predict exactly when you're ovulating because the length of your cycles can vary from month to month. Even if your menstrual cycles are the same length, you may not always ovulate on the same day.
Another sign of ovulation is that your cervical mucus, the discharge from your vagina, may be wetter, clearer, and more slippery around the time of ovulation. Your body temperature may rise slightly after ovulation as well. There are also ovulation predictor kits that can detect an increase in the levels of certain hormones in your urine.
What causes anovulatory cycles?
Anovulation is usually the result of an imbalance of the hormones that control ovulation. It begins with a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. Anything that interferes with these hormones can cause anovulation, which can be caused by several underlying conditions, including:
Low body weight or excessive exercise. As with having a high BMI, having a low BMI or excessively exercising can cause anovulation. It does this by disrupting the release of the hormones that control ovulation from your pituitary gland.
Stress. Stress also affects the hormones that control ovulation. One study found that women who had high levels of an enzyme that indicates stress in their saliva took 29% longer to conceive than those with low levels of the enzyme.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is the most common cause of hormonal imbalance in women of childbearing age. It affects approximately 1 in 10 women. PCOS causes you to produce excess androgens. High levels of androgens cause the follicles, or sacs, in your ovaries that contain your eggs to remain small. This can prevent your body from releasing eggs.
Abnormalities in TSH or Prolactin. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and Prolactin are both hormones produced by your pituitary gland. If levels of these hormones are abnormal, it can interfere with the hormones you need to ovulate. Problems with your thyroid gland can lead to over or underproduction of these hormones.
How is anovulation treated?
Anovulation is usually treated with fertility drugs. There are several commonly prescribed fertility drugs, including:
Clomiphene citrate (CC). Around 80% of women will ovulate and 40% will get pregnant using CC. It works by stimulating the hormones that cause your body to release an egg.
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This causes your ovary to release an egg, usually 36 to 72 hours after it's given. This is the same hormone that pregnancy tests measure. So, if you take a pregnancy test after receiving hCG, you will get a false-positive result.
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This is a lab-created version of the hormone that causes the eggs to mature in your ovaries. This may be used on women who don't get pregnant with CC or who don't make their own FSH. FSH treatment has a risk of 20% to 30% of pregnancy with multiplies. Use of FSH has to be closely monitored by your doctor.
GnRH agonists and antagonists. These are synthetic hormones that are used to control the release of LH.
Risks of fertility medicines
There are many different types of hormones used to treat anovulation. Your doctor will closely monitor you while you are on these to minimize the risk of side effects, including:
- Ovarian hyperstimulation, which can cause serious complications such as blood clots, kidney damage, twisting of your ovaries, and fluid collecting in your abdomen or chest.
- Pregnancy with multiple babies, which occurs in about 20% of pregnancies that result from fertility drugs.
- Ectopic pregnancy, which is a pregnancy that occurs outside of your uterus.
- Adnexal torsion, which is twisting of your ovaries.
- Possibly increased risk of ovarian cancer, though this is still being researched.
How long does ovulation last each month?
A woman’s complete menstrual cycle is usually 24 to 37 days long, although some women may have somewhat shorter or longer cycles.
Ovulation is your fertile phase of each month. During this phase, your ovaries (a woman’s reproductive organs) release an egg (ovum). The likelihood of conceiving is at the maximum during this period. A woman’s ovary releases an egg (ovulate) only once during menses; therefore, if you are planning to get pregnant or want to avoid it, tracking your period (menses) and finding out when your ovaries are releasing eggs is very essential.
Latest Pregnancy News
Daily Health News
How long does ovulation last each month?
Ovulation takes place only once a month and the ovum stays alive for 12 to 24 hours.
Your ovaries release one mature egg any time from day 7 to 21 of your cycle depending on the length of your cycle. This is called the ovulation phase. The released egg is picked by the uterine tube (fallopian tube). If you have sex during this time, there is a higher chance that the egg may get fertilized by the sperm (semen) here and travel down to the womb and you may get pregnant. Hence, these are your best days to get pregnant.
Very rarely, a second egg may be released within 24 hours from when the first egg was released from the ovaries.
For some women, it is difficult to determine exactly when they will release eggs (ovulate) because of irregular periods or various other factors. Many factors such as hormonal problems may contribute to an inability to release the egg. If you are breastfeeding a baby, there are very few chances for you to get pregnant.
What are the natural signs and symptoms you observe during ovulation?
There are three main signs you may see during your ovulation/fertile period
- Cervical mucus: You may feel wet in this phase. A fluid of varied consistency comes out of the cervix. It becomes slippery and stretchy and has the consistency of a raw egg white. This is due to the changes in your hormones. This fluid allows the sperm (semen) to travel and live in the woman’s system for three to five days. The changes in the cervical mucus can be seen at the beginning and end of your fertile days.
- Basal body temperature: You may experience a slight increase in body temperature during your ovulation (fertile) days. The temperature readings can be used to determine the timing of egg release and your fertile days.
- Mittelschmerz: Some women may have cramps on the side from where the egg is released. Some may even have some spotting when they ovulate.
You can identify your early nonfertile, fertile and late fertile phase of your cycle by observing, recording and interpreting the aforementioned three signs. However, you should not use these signs to determine the exact day of release of an egg.
Women usually do not release an egg and are not able to conceive during the breastfeeding period (time) and after delivery if they do not have menses (most likely for six months). However, this may not be always true.
How can you track your ovulation?
Tracking and knowing when you are releasing eggs (the fertile window) will help you to know the best timing/days of the months to have sex with your partner and get pregnant. There are certain methods such as
Ovulation calendar: Writing down when your period starts each month and how long it lasts may help you to determine your fertile days.
Ovulation predictor kits: The World Health Organization recommends home-based ovulation predictor kits to increase your chances of getting pregnant. It is a urine test kit that checks your luteinizing hormone (LH).
Devices and apps: There are popular devices and apps available to assist you to monitor your menses, predict the release of the egg, the best time to conceive and your next menses. However, this may be inaccurate because every woman has varied natural signs of the fertile period.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Emory Healthcare: "Ovulation Induction."
Human Reproduction: "Preconception stress increases the risk of infertility: results from a couple-based prospective cohort study—the LIFE study."
NHS: "How can I tell when I'm ovulating?"
JBRA Assisted Reproduction: "Obesity and anovulatory infertility: A review."
Merck Manual: "Menstrual Cycle."
Women and Infants: "Anovulation."
March of Dimes
Top Can You Get Pregnant Without Ovulating Related Articles
How Long After a Positive Ovulation Test Are You Fertile?A woman may only have about 60 hours or less than 2.5 days during the cycle when conception is possible. Once the egg dies, a woman may no longer be fertile, and their period will come to start the next cycle. Eggs are only viable for about 24 hours after they’re released (ovulation).
Can I Get Pregnant Shortly After My Period?Getting pregnant just after your period is unlikely, but it’s not impossible. However, the chances of getting pregnant are low right after the periods compared to a few days or a week in the menstrual cycle.
What Are the Chances of Getting Pregnant at 45 or Older?Your chances of getting pregnant reduce as you progress in age. Find out the probability of conceiving after the age of 45.
Pregnancy SymptomsWhat are the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy? Can you know before your missed period? Read about nausea and vomiting (morning sickness), bloating, tender breasts, and more. Explore first trimester symptoms of pregnancy and learn what week pregnancy symptoms start.
Am I Pregnant QuizWhat are early pregnancy symptoms? In some women, symptoms range from a missed period to feeling lightheaded. Others may experience typical "morning sickness" and food cravings. Could you be pregnant? Take the quiz!
Early Signs and Symptoms of PregnancyThe signs and symptoms of pregnancy differ from woman to woman. All the signs of pregnancy may not be seen in one person. Additionally, the signs may appear in different persons at different times.
How Can I Increase My Chances of Getting Pregnant with Twins?Do not leave having twins to chance. Increase the chances of getting pregnant with twins by getting pregnant in your 30s or later; finding a partner with a family history of twins; increasing your weight; breastfeeding regularly; consuming dairy products; and getting pregnant repeatedly.
How Do I Know If I'm Pregnant or If My Period Is Just Late?Could you be pregnant because your period was late? Understand the causes of late, missed, and irregular menstruation. See reasons for a missed period, including early pregnancy. Learn what the menstrual cycle is, and what ovulation means.
Is a Positive Ovulation Test a Good Sign?An ovulation test helps determine the precise time frame in which a woman ovulates during the menstrual cycle. Ovulation tests measure the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) in the urine. A spike in the LH level in the urine indicates that ovulation is imminent.
Is Ovulation Pain a Good Sign of Fertility?Ovulation refers to the release of a mature egg (ovum) from the ovary into the uterine tubes. After being released, the egg moves through the fallopian tube where it can be fertilized by the sperm. Thus, pregnancy is possible when you have sex during the 5 days before ovulation (sperms are known to survive for up to 5 days in the woman’s reproductive tract) or on the day of ovulation.
Ovulation & FertilityBoost fertility and increase your chances to conceive. Learn about ovulation calendars, diet, aging and other factors that can affect pregnancy.
Pregnancy (Week by Week, Trimesters)Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include breast swelling and tenderness, nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, and bloating. Second trimester symptoms include backache, weight gain, itching, and possible stretch marks. Third trimester symptoms are additional weight gain, heartburn, hemorrhoids, swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping. Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
Pregnancy Myths and Facts QuizBeing pregnant is a delicate time for both mother and baby. Take this pregnancy myths and facts quiz to separate the myths and facts about being pregnant, and learn the truth behind healthy pregnancies!
Pregnancy Planning (Tips)Pregnancy planning is an important step in preparation for starting or expanding a family. Planning for a pregnancy includes taking prenatal vitamins, eating healthy for you and your baby, disease prevention (for both parents and baby) to prevent birth defects and infections, avoiding certain medications that may be harmful to your baby, how much weight gain is healthy exercise safety and pregnancy, travel during pregnancy.
Stages of Pregnancy: Week by WeekSee pictures on the various stages of pregnancy. See and learn what changes a woman's body goes through and view fetal images of how her baby grows during the 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
What Does Cervical Mucus Look Like After Ovulation?The consistency of cervical mucus fluctuates throughout the month. Learn what cervical mucus should look like during and after ovulation and when you should see a doctor.