Each month, women experience ovulation - the phase of the menstrual cycle that involves one of the ovaries releasing an egg (ovum). It generally occurs about two weeks before your period starts. If that ovum meets a sperm on its path along the fallopian tube, your journey to motherhood has begun.
For the majority of women, ovulation occurs about once every month, from adolescence until menopause, interrupted only by pregnancy or breastfeeding. Some women, though, experience irregular ovulation or don't ovulate at all.
Trying to conceive can be, for many women, a stressful time, but learning to understand your own body's cycle and recognise signs of ovulation may help minimise some of that pressure.
Typical symptoms of ovulation include:
Changes in cervical mucus.Cervical mucus changes throughout the menstrual cycle indicating fertile and inferile periods. The infertile cervical mucus that follows a mentrual period is sticky, dense and opaque. This mucus will gradually change until it becomes slippery, wet and clear, which indicates fertility and impending ovulation.
A rise in basal temperature.Basal temperature describes your body temperature taken in the morning before rising or moving about or eating anything When ovulation is taking place, there is a small rise of about half a degree Celsius in your basal temperature.
Regular menstrual cycles.If your period is regular - arriving every 24-35 days - you are more likely to ovulate than a woman whose periods are irregular.
Abdominal pain.Approximately 1 in 5 women experience ovulation pain - this is often referred to as mid-cycle pain. Some women experience pain during ovulation. Lasting anywhere between a few minutes to 48 hours, this pain indicates that ovulation is occuring. Symptoms of ovulation pain can include:
- Pain in the lower abdomen, just inside the hip bone.
- The pain on the right or left side of the abdomen, depending on which ovary is releasing an egg.
- The pain that switches from one side to the other from one cycle to the next, or is only experienced on one side on alternate months.
Premenstrual symptoms.For some women, ovulation can accompany breast tenderness and enlargement, abdominal bloating and moodiness.