What is Ovulation?

Understanding female health is at the core of what we do here at Natural Cycles. So naturally, we know quite a bit about ovulation and its role in fertility. Get ready to learn “what is ovulation?” and more about your body as we take a look at this important phase in the menstrual cycle and where it fits into the larger picture of planning or preventing pregnancy.

Image of an egg cell moving down the fallopian tube in the act of ovulation

So, what is ovulation?

Ovulation is the release of a mature female egg cell from an ovary which typically happens once during each menstrual cycle. The egg cell lives for up to 24 hours after being released. If it’s not fertilized, the egg cell dies and the menstrual cycle progresses to the next phase.

When will I ovulate?

Ovulation takes place at the end of the first phase in the menstrual cycle, typically this happens around 2 weeks after your period, although this can vary a lot from woman-to-woman. This variation means that this information on its own is not enough to prevent pregnancy.

However, understanding your menstrual cycle is a great first step to identifying ovulation. The menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period and ends right before your next period begins. The menstrual cycle is made up of the follicular phase (named for the follicle which in time becomes the mature egg released at ovulation) and the luteal phase (the second phase when you are typically not fertile). 

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What is hyperovulation?

In some cycles it’s possible for our ovaries to release multiple egg cells. This is called hyperovulation or multiple ovulation. If hyperovulation occurs, this always happens within 24 hours of the first egg cell being released from the ovaries. After this time progesterone levels rise, preventing ovulation from happening again. 

Hyperovulation is considered to be caused by genetics, certain medical conditions (for example polycystic ovary syndrome) and fertility treatment (such as IVF). If you have recently come off hormonal birth control you may also experience multiple ovulation. In some cycles you may find you do not ovulate at all, this is called anovulation.

Ovulation and fertility tracking

Being able to monitor ovulation and identifying when this happens in the menstrual cycle is key to fertility tracking. It has been used in age-old methods and can be harnessed by modern methods and new technology too. With this information, it’s possible to either prevent or plan a pregnancy as the fertile window reveals the best time to conceive or to use birth control to prevent pregnancy.

Fertility tracking is more complex than just finding out the fertile window. To do this effectively it’s important to take other factors into account, such as period length and sperm survival. There is a knowledge gap around the menstrual cycle. If you’re curious about learning more about your body and the menstrual cycle, check out the Cycle Matters hub for more content on female health.

Natural Cycles and ovulation

By measuring your temperature orally most days, it’s possible to identify a shift in basal body temperature, which happens right before ovulation takes place. This is how Natural Cycles works to calculate your fertility. If you are looking for an alternative method of birth control or a way to help you plan a pregnancy, Natural Cycles might just be the app for you. Get to know your body with the birth control app that’s grounded in science.

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Written By

Jennifer Gray

A writer with a passion for women’s health, Jennifer Gray has years of experience writing about various reproductive health topics including birth control, planning pregnancy, women’s anatomy, and so much more.

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Scientifically Reviewed

Jack Pearson

With 10 years of experience working in the field of fertility, Dr. Jack Pearson is Natural Cycles’ in-house expert. As Medical Affairs Manager, he dedicates his time to conducting groundbreaking research and educating healthcare professionals.

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