It’s not surprising that many couples ask the question, “How long does ovulation last?” Determining the exact time and duration of ovulation is important to partners who wish to have a baby.
But the optimal time to have sex and conceive is not the same for each woman. For some, the fertile period might last for up to 10 days and there are various ways to pinpoint the best time for intimacy. Tracking the menstrual cycle helps gauge the exact time, but ovulation is often influenced by other factors.
The Ovulation Mechanism
Women who are in the childbearing age ovulate every month. Ovulation usually happens at the 14th day of a regular 28-day menstrual cycle.
In a nutshell, an ovary releases an egg that reaches the uterus via a fallopian tube, but the process doesn’t occur spontaneously. Ovarian follicles begin to reach maturity between six to fourteen days into the menstrual cycle. An egg develops between the 10th and 14th day, and then it is released.
There are women who release more than one egg within a 24-hour time frame. Once the egg is released, it is ready to be fertilized.
How Long Does Ovulation Last?
It takes between 12 and 24 hours for an unfertilized egg to dissolve or die, so it’s obvious that an ovulation cycle usually lasts one day. But you shouldn’t think that conception is only a 24-hour deal.
There is a six-day period during which an egg can be fertilized, starting five days prior to ovulation. The fertile period ends on the day of the ovulation. The sperm life cycle is responsible for the 6-day window of opportunity. Namely, sperm can survive up to 5 days in the female body.
The conception happens inside the fallopian tube and the fertilized egg travels down to the uterus. In about 10 days, the egg attaches to the uterus and a new life begins to develop.
The Telltale Signs
Some women find it hard to tell that they are ovulating, while others feel distinct signs that something is happening in their body. Either way, there are ways to help you know it’s a ripe time for babies.
When the ovulation occurs, the basal body temperature might increase slightly. But this isn’t a great predictive tool, as most women reach a higher temperature a few days after the fertility window. In other words, the ovulation could have already happened when you measure the temperature increase.
Even so, taking the basal temperature can help you determine the exact time of ovulation and prepare accordingly.
Monitoring the changes in the cervical fluid (discharge) is another good way to tell if a woman is ovulating. The discharge can also show that ovulation is about to occur. During ovulation, the fluid might resemble egg whites, it is usually stretchy, clear, and wet.
Besides the higher temperature and cervical fluid changes, there are a few other symptoms that may signal ovulation. Some women experience bloating and sore breasts. It is not uncommon to have cramps and an increased sex drive.
What are the Things That Prevent Ovulation?
The lack of ovulation is usually linked to certain hormones in the female body.
For example, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition triggered by an imbalance of progesterone and estrogen. As a result, benign growths (cysts) appear on the ovaries of women who are afflicted by this condition. The syndrome is known to cause fertility issues, an impaired cardiac function, and problems with the menstrual cycle.
An abnormal thyroid function might prevent ovulation as well. Women with an underactive or overactive thyroid gland can experience untimely menopause. Thyroid works together with adrenal glands, so some women stop ovulating when they experience stress.
A period will occur every month, regardless of ovulation. The uterus still thickens and gets ready for an egg, even if the egg doesn’t arrive. But the menstrual cycle might look and feel different. Sometimes it’s shorter and lighter than usual, or it might last too long.
Women whose cycle is between 28 and 35 days are ovulating, so there is no need for concern. But a visit to a doctor becomes necessary if the cycle gets seriously disrupted.
What are the Odds?
Depending on the time you have sex, the chances of conception are different. The figures presented below are just a ballpark estimation and other factors may increase or decrease your odds.
The chance to conceive five days prior to ovulation is up to 7%. On the fourth day, the chances increase to between 8 and 17%. And the percentage grows as you get closer to the day of ovulation. When the ovulation occurs, there are up to 33% chances of conception.
A day after the ovulation, the odds drop to between 0.8 and 11%. The chances are in the region of 3 to 9% on the second day after the ovulation.
How to Improve Fertility
There are a few simple tips and tricks you can employ to boost fertility and increase the odds of getting pregnant.
The first thing to do is maintain optimal weight. A body mass index (BMI) between 19 and 24 is considered healthy. A score above that requires some consultation with your doctor.
A healthy diet goes hand in hand with a healthy weight. For example, nuts and cooked dry beans are a good protein source. High-fat dairy is a great choice as well.
Make sure you are well hydrated by cutting down on caffeine. If you find it hard to stop drinking coffee, try not to take more than a couple of 8oz cups per day.
Pay a visit to your dentist. You might not be aware of it, but gum disease can be associated with premature birth.
To Sum Up
How long does ovulation last? The process lasts 24 hours and you have a 6-day window to conceive a baby. But you take great care of your reproductive health at every point of your cycle.
Taking up a moderate gym routine is a great place to start. But you need to ditch some bad habits like drinking or smoking. But the best advice is to have tons of sex. The chances of getting pregnant become much higher if you hit the sack more than a few times a week.