How long does ovulation last? Whether hoping to become pregnant or to avoid pregnancy, it’s an important fact to know. While the short and sweet answer is approximately 12 to 24 hours, it’s helpful to take a more comprehensive look at the process since the odds of getting pregnant reach beyond that timeframe.
If you have a regular 28-day cycle, ovulation should occur approximately 14 days after the beginning of your last menstrual cycle. The timing can vary from woman to woman, and even vary month to month for the same woman. If you are unsure of when you are ovulating, there are several techniques that can help you determine the timing, including examining the texture of your cervical mucus, taking basal temperature readings, and employing over-the-counter home ovulation tests.
What Triggers Ovulation?
A the beginning of each cycle the hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland to release follicle stimulating hormone, which in turn prompts a follicle, one of many sacs in the ovaries that holds an immature egg, to allow an egg to mature. The maturing egg releases estrogen, the presence of which alerts the hypothalamus that there is a mature egg. The hypothalamus then signals the pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone, which triggers the release of the egg. The time period from the first day of the last period until the release of the mature egg is known as the follicular phase of the cycle.
What Happens During Ovulation?
The release of the luteinizing hormone triggers the beginning of ovulation, causing the mature egg to breach the ovarian walls and begin its trip down the fallopian tube. The egg can survive unfertilized for approximately 12 to 24 hours in the fallopian tube. If fertilization doesn’t take place, the egg dies, and then is absorbed by the uterine lining and flushed out of the body during the next period. If the egg remains unfertilized, the time from ovulation to the first day of the next period in known as the luteal phase. If the egg is fertilized, it begins to multiply while it continues to travel down the fallopian tube toward the uterus. Once it reaches the uterus, the egg implants into the uterine lining which provides it with nourishment during the earliest stages of development. It cake anywhere from six to 12 days for the egg to make the complete journey from the ovaries to successful implantation.
Harms MD, Roger W. “I’m hoping to get pregnant. How can I tell when I’m ovulating? Are there any obvious ovulation signs?.” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2010. www.mayoclinic.com/health/ovulation-signs/AN01521.
“Understanding Ovulation : American Pregnancy Association.” Promoting Pregnancy Wellness : American Pregnancy Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2010. http://www.americanpregnancy.org/gettingpregnant/understandingovulation.html.