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For women: Here's what happens when you're ovulating

Knowing the signs during your ovulation period can help you decide on planning pregnancy.

Menstrual cyle

There are several ways a person can tell when ovulation is due. Many people experience a range of physical and emotional symptoms, as their hormone levels drop or increase.

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What is Ovulation?

As mentioned, ovulation occurs when a mature egg (or eggs) is released from the ovary. The egg then moves down the fallopian tube, where it stays for 12 to 24 hours. During this time, it can be fertilized.

Ovulation happens approximately 14 days prior to the start of your menstrual cycle. This is when you are most fertile. However, the days leading up are also part of your fertile window or ovulation window. This means that if your cycle is normally 28 days long, your most fertile days are days 12, 13, and 14.

Here's how to tell when you are about to ovulate:

  • Discharge

For some women, this is a reliable, simple sign. As you get close to ovulation, your cervical mucus will become copious, clear and slippery—like egg whites. It stretches between your fingers. Immediately before ovulation, most detect increased vaginal secretions that are wet and slippery (similar to the consistency of raw egg white). Generally, your body produces the greatest amount of this type of vaginal discharge on the day of ovulation. Once your discharge becomes scant and sticky again, ovulation is over.

  • Ovulation pain

Some people experience ovulation pain, cramps, or twinges when an egg is released. Symptoms can include dull or sharp and sudden pain that's generally mild. It usually lasts a few minutes to a few hours, but may last as long as a day or two.

  • Basal body temperature

Research has shown that before or during ovulation, individuals experience a slight but detectable rise in their normal body temperature. By monitoring your basal body temperature first thing in the morning before you rise daily, and tracking the results on a basal body temperature chart, it's possible to determine that ovulation has occurred. However, conditions such as fever, restless sleep, and exertion can affect the accuracy of the temperature readings.

  • Breast tenderness

Tender or sore breasts can be an indicator of ovulation. This is due to hormonal changes. That said, while some individuals will experience sore breasts right before ovulation, others have found their breasts become tender afterwards. Sore breasts can also be an early indicator of pregnancy.

  • Libido changes

Many individuals experience libido changes before or during ovulation. If you experience an increased sex drive, your fertile window could be near—especially if you notice any of the other aforementioned signs and symptoms.

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