Ovulation 101

One of the reasons I created this blog is that for the past year or so, I constantly searched the internet with questions I had regarding ovulation, timing, charting, etc., and stumbled across snippets of information. I found them in every corner – from websites with articles by actual doctors to chat forums. Frustratingly, though, I never found all the information I have ever wanted to know in one place. As I walk through all the different angles of getting pregnant, I hope to have consolidated the information enough that you might have most of your questions answered through my different posts – and if I don’t answer the question, hopefully someone else who comments here will.

So, I thought I would start with ovulation basics. That’s where I started, simply wondering, “How does it work, anyway?”

The majority of women release one egg each cycle (notice I didn’t say month). After it is released, it awaits fertilization from the male’s sperm. Amazingly, the egg is alive about 12-24 hours after it leaves the ovary – and that’s it. This is the main reason you will hear that having sex after ovulation has taken place (such as the following 2 or 3 days after) will not help you get pregnant. However, it doesn’t hurt to try –especially if you’re not exactly sure if you’ve ovulated or not (see future posts on charting!) Regardless, doctors will recommend you have sex frequently leading up to ovulation (such as 4-5 days before) and the actual day of ovulation, if you know when it is.

What does “frequently” mean? Well, in my informal research in questioning my friends, it seems many people have different ideas. I had heard every other day, because sperm count can diminish if you have sex every single day continuously. But I also heard every day, because some men just assume they have really strong swimmers! Being the type-A that I am, I asked my gyno, and I specifically said, “Every other day? Or every day?” She said, “Every other day – unless the two of you are really enjoying yourselves on a nice date; then go for it!” In other words – it doesn’t really matter! If the two of you are feeling it, go right ahead. That said, I have also heard from women who, for months, have had sex every other day or every day. It’s really not necessary (unless you want to)! The only week you really need to make sure you have sex a lot is during ovulation week. The rest of the month, you want to have sex often, again, for his sperm count and you and your significant other’s happiness, but you don’t need to be by the book about it. A couple times a week will more than do it.

So why have sex so often during ovulation week, if the egg only lasts 12-24 hours? Well, the one thing I haven’t mentioned up until now is that a man’s sperm can survive 3-5 days. If you figure out the timing now, you could have sex up to 5 days before you ovulate and still get pregnant, as the sperm will still be awaiting an egg to drop. The more frequently you have sex that week, the higher your chances. It’s just basic probability!

If the egg isn’t fertilized during that 12-24 hour window, it dies out and is absorbed into your uterine lining, where it will leave your body when you have your period.

I’m going to save the topic of problems with ovulation for a future post, but there are a few more things you need to know now. Without doing any charting or research into when you ovulate, you may be able to tell when it happens, because you will feel some pain near the ovaries.  It’s similar to cramping during your period, except that it will not last very long. I, myself, have never felt pain when I ovulated, but that may be because I have not been as in tune to my aches and pains as other women are. Also, there may be months when you do not ovulate due to stress – so try not to stress wondering if you’ve ovulated or not! (Advice for myself, really.)

Please check out my links as this blog continues (under blogroll, to the right), as I will save you the time of internet searching to provide you with websites that have been helpful to me along the way. Finally, if you have anything to add to the topic or new information you think others would want to know, please post! I certainly don’t have all the answers and I’m always looking for new information myself.

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