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What is Ovulation and the Role Played by it in Conception and Family Planning

If you have been trying to conceive for over a year and have started having a gut feeling that something is amiss, you must be having anxious thoughts of whether you are suffering from a disease that could be acting as an obstacle in your dream for motherhood.

You may also be thinking of undergoing the advanced infertility treatments like IVF or IUI to realize your dream.

But halt..!​

Being unable to get pregnant does not mean you are suffering from infertility. It could be the result of wrong planning and the lack of information about ovulation.

Ovulation is the topic that is often ignored by women until they find themselves struggling with either conceiving or avoided the conception. Whether you are planning to get pregnant or wish to avoid it for a few months, you must arm yourself with the basic knowledge of ovulation.​

Most women make the mistake of thinking they are infertile when, in reality, they are perfectly normal. They do not realize that ovulation can directly determine their chances of getting pregnant.

The actual reason for not conceiving lies in the lack of information about ovulation and not any abnormality related to their reproductive system.
That is why; I have made an attempt to educate women about the basic things related to their ovulation, menstrual cycles, and intercourse. You may, here itself, find the blunders you have been doing with the method or frequency of having sex and its timing.

Just correct your mistakes and you will conceive without any medical intervention.​..

The information provided here will also help you to know how to avoid conception if you are planning to postpone motherhood. You can also use the ovulation calendar to determine your fertile days. It is easy to use and fairly accurate. The all you need to do is enter the last day of your periods and duration of the cycle. The calculator will display your fertile days.​

Introduction: What Is Ovulation?

calendar pick date

Ovulation is an integral function of your reproductive organs. It involves the release of an egg from the ovaries during menstrual cycles. During this process, the part of the ovary called an ovarian follicle releases an egg, which is also called an ovum, or female gamete. The egg is released only upon reaching maturity.

Conception can occur when the egg travels through the fallopian tube, and meets a sperm to induce fertilization.
A conception cannot occur if the ovaries are not able to produce the eggs due to the disorders such as Polycystic ovarian disease.
A simple fact that sperms can stay active and viable only for 2 to 5 days after they have entered the body of a woman. So, if you want to conceive, you must plan your sexual activities in such a way that the sperms entering the body are able to meet the eggs produced by the ovaries.​

Since ovulation occurs during some fixed days of the menstrual cycle, it is important to have sex during the period of ovulation so that the sperms can meet and fertilize with the eggs to form an embryo.​

Formation of an embryo and its implantation on the wall of the uterus will result in pregnancy and mark the beginning of a new phase in your life.

However, if you have sex during a period other than when the ovulation is supposed to occur, the sperms ejaculated into the body will become non-viable 2 days later without meeting the egg thus leading to a failure to conceive.​

This simple science of ovulation requires you to do some mathematical calculations for deciding when exactly you should have sex and when to avoid depending on your purpose of trying or avoiding conception.

What are The Signs and Symptoms of Ovulation?​

Luckily, there are a few signs and symptoms, which can help you detect the exact period when ovulation occurs in your body. Let us have a look at the most effective ways to plan your sex depending on the period of ovulation.


Charting of the basal body temperature is the most commonly used method of tracking ovulation. Basal body temperature is the temperature of the body taken when at rest. It rises by a very small percentage during ovulation and stays elevated for one or two days after the ovulation.

Take your temperature every morning to detect this rise in the temperature. Do this preferably at the same time every morning, say before you get out of bed. Make a note of the temperature in a diary.

The day you find a slight elevation in the temperature, you can be almost certain that you are ovulating.

You can use a basal/fertility thermometer for this purpose. It is easily available at the drugstores.


The amount and consistency of your cervical mucus change as ovulation approaches. When you’re not ovulating, cervical mucus appears creamy and sticky. It may also be entirely absent.

It becomes more abundant and takes on an egg-white-like consistency as ovulation approaches. The mucus can be stretched up to an inch or more between your fingers.

By paying careful attention to these changes, you will be able to predict your fertile days accurately​


You may experience mild tenderness in your breasts just before ovulation. This occurs due to the rush of hormones in the body meant to prepare itself for the potential pregnancy.


Checking for the ferning pattern of your saliva is a unique and uncommon way for detecting ovulation. The ferning looks like the frost on a window pane. It occurs 24-48 hours before ovulation. You can use a personal ovulation microscope to perform this test. It allows you to predict the ovulation with ease.

To use the ovulation microscope, simply pull the lens in the tube and add a drop of saliva on it. Allow the saliva to dry. View the sample under the microscope after 5 minutes. If you are ovulating, you will be able to view a ferning, or a crystal-like pattern.​


You may experience an increased sexual desire during your fertile days. This libido-boost comes one or two days before the ovulation. When you start feeling this, be sure that this is your right time to have sex to get pregnant.

This method often works. Even if you weren’t about to ovulate when you had sex, you would still have a nice time with your partner!​

girl has ovulation pain

What is Painful Ovulation and What Does it Signify?

Ovulation can, sometimes, be painful. However, it is a normal symptom that more than 50% of women experience. This pain could be your guide to realize when your body is ovulating.

The ovulation pain often begins a few days before the ovulation. It doesn’t always occur at the exact moment when the egg is released by the ovaries. The pain is usually in the lower abdomen.​

It may be mild to moderate in intensity. Most women experience a dull, aching feeling that lasts for a couple of hours or for a day or two. Some women may experience a sharp, sudden pain in the lower abdomen, lasting just a moment.

When you experience this type of pain, consider it as a sign that the ovulation has begun. However, you must note that an intense and prolonged pain could be the sign of endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Here are some signs of ovulation pain that will help you differentiate it from the other causes of abdominal pain:

  • It comes suddenly
  • It is one-sided, which means, it occurs only on one side of abdomen
  • It is sharp and cramping in nature
  • Mild bleeding or vaginal discharge may occur along with the pain
  • It usually lasts for a few minutes

What is Fertile Window?

A  fertile window refers to those days in the menstrual cycle when pregnancy is possible. The duration of this fertile period varies depending on the lifespan of your egg and the partner’s sperm.

The ovum can survive for up to one day and the sperms usually survive for a maximum of 5 days in the cervical fluid. So, your theoretical fertile window is six days long, including the day of ovulation and the 5 days before the ovulation.

You have a chance to conceive only if you have intercourse on these days. The likelihood is increased dramatically when you have sex in the last three days of this 6-day period.​


The fertile days vary from woman-to-woman. It depends on the regularity and the length of your menstrual cycles. SDM is considered an effective method of knowing your fertile days if your menstrual cycles are 26-32 days long.

The Standard Days Method or SDM to know your fertile window​​​

The fertile days vary from woman-to-woman. It depends on the regularity and the length of your menstrual cycles. SDM is considered an effective method of knowing your fertile days if your menstrual cycles are 26-32 days long.​​

How to use the Standard Days Method?​

Women having 28-day menstrual cycles ovulate between the 13th and 15th day of their cycle considering the first day of the menses as the first day of the cycle. Let’s see how you will calculate it more precisely:​

  • Step 1: Mark on a calendar the day your period begins, as Day 1 of the menses and circle it
  • Step 2: Count forward to Day 11 and circle it
  • Step 3: Then, draw a line through the 12th till the 15th day. These 5 days are “your” fertile days. Have sexual intercourse more frequently on these days for better chances of conception
    For example:

if you get your menses on 1st July; then, this is the first day of your menses and the 11th and 15th days of this cycle would be 11th and 15th July, respectively​

So, your fertile window for this cycle is from 11th July to 15th July. When you get your next periods, follow the same steps beginning with marking that day as Day 1 of the next cycle​

Having said all this; it doesn’t mean you let your love life to be ruled by a calendar. Don’t abstain from having sex on other days of the month. Keep the love and affection in your marital life ignited by having sex on other days also. Try this method with more precision when you are using the fertility drugs as they will help the menses to regularize as well as induce better ovulation.

Planning Conception Depending on Your Fertile Window

You may find calculating your fertile window difficult initially. But, believe me, within just 3 to 4 months, you will be able to accurately judge when you are ovulating.

Once you have mastered this art, try to have sex every day each month during the fertile window period. This will ensure the sperms with good motility are at the right place and at the right time; that is when you ovulate.

For example: have sex when your cervical mucus feels wet, and slippery. This consistency of the mucus indicates ovulation. It is the most receptive consistency for the sperm. This will increase your chances of conception.

However, there are also a few other points you need to consider for a successful and healthy pregnancy. You are more likely to conceive if you and your partner are in good health. Making some changes as given below in your lifestyle can improve your chances of getting pregnant.​


Being underweight or overweight can hamper your chances of conception. Too little or too much body fat can also make your menstrual periods irregular or even stop them completely, both of which can reduce your ability to get pregnant.

If you and your partner are obese or underweight, follow healthy dietary habits and eat a nutritious diet to ensure your body is supplied with all the essential vitamins and minerals.
If you and your partner are obese or underweight, follow healthy dietary habits and eat a nutritious diet to ensure your body is supplied with all the essential vitamins and minerals.

This will help you to maintain a healthy weight and increases your chances of conceiving.


Quit smoking and stop consuming alcohol as they can not just prevent you from getting pregnant but also pose a serious threat to the health of your baby.

Alcohol can depress the activity of the adrenal glands and reduce the production of some hormones. This can impair the egg health considerably.
Additionally, alcoholic beverages contain a high amount of sugar, which can decrease your chances of conception by contributing to the hormonal imbalance, and insulin resistance.
In short, heavy drinking can affect your fertility, and even increase the length of time needed to get pregnant. It can also reduce your chances of having a smooth and healthy pregnancy.

Similarly, smoking can also worsen your chances of pregnancy by causing hormonal imbalance. It can damage the ovaries and uterus and also increase the risk of miscarriage.


regular exercise can improve your general health and help you lose those extra pounds. It can also improve your moods and sexual desire. These benefits of exercising will bring you closer to your dream of motherhood.

Running, gymnastics, aerobics, swimming, and bicycling are some exercises you can try to improve your general health and increases your chances of conception. You may also indulge in brisk walking, gardening, and golfing for the purpose.


Timing Lovemaking to Choose the Gender of Your Baby

Luckily, the whole world is experiencing a huge shift from being predominately patriarchal to shunning gender discrimination. I am sure the topmost thought in your mind is to conceive and have a healthy baby.

However, there are a few cases, when the couple is curious about the gender of the baby and would like to have a baby boy or a girl, especially if they already have a kid of the other gender.

If you already have a daughter, you would prefer to have a son the next time to complete your family and vice versa! Here are some facts about sperms and eggs that could help you decide the gender of your would-be kid!​

The gender of the baby is determined by the father’s sperm. A sperm carries either a Y chromosome (boy) or an X chromosome (girl).

The X chromosome sperms are more robust, but travel slowly. They have a longer lifespan. On the other hand, the Y chromosome sperms exhibit a high motility, and a shorter life span

If you would like to have a baby boy, you can time the sex close to the period of ovulation, as this will ensure the faster Y chromosome reaches the egg first and fertilizes to cause pregnancy

If you are longing for a baby girl, time the sex a bit further from the period of ovulation. This will favor the X chromosome sperms that can stay viable for longer, but swim slowly

Tips to Prevent Pregnancy with Natural Family Planning Methods

Pregnancy can occur only when the egg meets a sperm. So, if you wish to avoid pregnancy, you will have to avoid sex during the period when the eggs are released by the ovaries.

The natural family planning methods involve keeping the sperms and eggs apart by avoiding sex during the period of ovulation.​

Plotting the exact time of the month when your fertility is at the peak by calculating your fertile window and recording the fertility signals, like your cervical secretions and body temperature can help you identify the safe period to have sex.

However, these methods have some advantages and disadvantages as discussed below:​

Fertile window​

You can calculate your fertile window based on your menstrual cycles. This method of family planning will not be effective at helping you to avoid pregnancy if you are suffering from irregular periods as this will prevent you from calculating the exact fertile window.

The temperature method

The temperature method involves recording the body temperature every day at a fixed time. A small rise in the body temperature indicates ovulation.

This method is easy to perform. It just takes a few minutes to record the body temperature. However, it may not work when you have fever or an infection, which may cause your body temperature to rise even when you are not ovulating.​

Cervical secretion monitoring method

This method involves detecting the change in the consistency and amount of the cervical mucus secreted. Though this method is easy to perform, it is not reliable.

frequent ask question

FAQs about Ovulation

Can I have periods and still not have ovulated?

Having periods, regularly or irregularly, does not mean the ovulation has occurred. Some women have anovulatory cycles, which indicate the absence of ovulation.

During anovulatory cycles, women experience slight vaginal bleeding that mimics a menstrual bleeding, though it is not a true period.​

This bleeding is caused due to the buildup in the inner lining of the uterus that cannot sustain itself any longer.​

Can I ovulate without having periods?

The ovaries release an egg about 12 to 16 days before your next expected period. So, it is possible to ovulate and conceive without having periods.

Can a woman ovulate more than once during each cycle?

In most cases, women ovulate only once during each cycle. However, in rare cases, multiple ovulation can occur when more eggs are released by the ovaries in a cycle.

Can I ovulate right after my periods?

You may ovulate right after your periods if you have a shorter menstrual cycle. The ovulation occurs about 12 to 16 days before the next cycle begins. So, if you have a menstrual cycle of 21 days, and get the flow for 7 days, you can ovulate right after the periods as you will be ovulating at the days 6th to 10th of your cycle.

How long does it take an egg to be implanted after ovulation?

Implantation of the fertilized egg and sperm occurs nine days after the ovulation. Implantation of the egg on the wall of the uterus may cause rupture of the tiny blood vessels along with the disruption in the lining of the uterus.

This may cause a small amount of bleeding called the implantation bleeding. Implantation bleeding is a sign of a successful conception.

How can your age affect the ovulation?

You are born with a fixed number of eggs or primordial follicles. By the age of 40 years, the egg reserve in your body reduces considerably. As a result, your chances of ovulation and pregnancy also decrease to a great extent. The possibility of conception continues to reduce as the age advances due to the declining number of eggs.

Can you conceive after menopause?

It is not possible to get pregnant after menopause. However, you may still get pregnant during the perimenopausal period with the help of hormone replacement therapies and advanced infertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization.

Things To Know

  • The mature egg dies after ovulation, if it does not fertilize with the sperm in 12 to 24 hours.
  • A sperm can survive in the body of a woman for five days after the intercourse
  • About 90% of the women are unaware of the fact that the 2 days before the ovulation are the best time to conceive
  • Almost 25% of women do not know that the normal menstrual cycles vary between 21 to 35 days. The period of 28 days is just an average
  • All the follicles formed in the ovaries before your birth are developed at about the 4th month of the fetal life. You have approximately 400,000 follicles in each ovary at the time of birth
  • 72% of women are not aware of the natural fertility signs
  • Almost 81% of the woman’s cycle is of 21 to 35 days.

Almost 81% of the woman’s cycle is of 21 to 35 days.

72% of women are not aware of the natural fertility signs


I hope you have found answers to why you were not able to conceive. If you think you have been making mistakes by not having sex at the right time; then go all the way to correct them.

Hopefully, you will get pregnant and your journey for the search of parenthood will have a “happy ending” here itself without the need to go for any medical intervention.

If you are young, you would like to fulfill your professional aspirations and secure your finances before taking the responsibilities of parenthood.

Learning the basics about ovulation, its signs, and the fertile window will guide you for determining when you can have sex and when you should avoid. This will help you to focus on your priorities and postpone the pregnancy till the right time arrives.​

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