Ovulation

Ovulation occurs when an egg is released from an ovary. Once released, it enters one of the fallopian tubes and travels toward the uterus. If the egg is fertilized by sperm, it implants in the uterine wall (endometrium), and pregnancy occurs. If the egg remains unfertilized, the uterine lining is shed during menstruation. Ovulation usually takes place between the 10th and 14th days of a menstrual cycle, but varies among women or from month to month.

Symptoms of Ovulation

Not all women have physical symptoms of ovulation. However, those that do may experience the following:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vaginal mucus-like secretions
  • Change in basal body temperature

Basal body temperature, which is the body's temperature when it is at rest, can increase slightly during ovulation.

Detection of Ovulation

When a woman is trying to conceive, she may want to pinpoint the time of ovulation to maximize her chances of getting pregnant. In addition to looking for physical signs, the following can be used to detect ovulation:

  • Urine tests to measure hormone levels
  • Endometrial biopsy
  • Blood tests to measure hormone levels
  • Transvaginal ultrasound
  • Basal body temperature chart

There are several over-the-counter ovulation kits that a woman can use at home to help her track when she is ovulating. More advanced testing can be performed by a physician. Ovulation detection is sometimes used as natural, albeit unreliable, method of birth control. By determining when she is ovulating, a woman can abstain from sexual activity when she is most fertile.

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