What is Ovulation?

Fertility refers to the biological state of a person’s ability to conceive children.  A woman is most fertile when she is ovulating, and some people are naturally more fertile than others. There are many contributing factors that determine how fertile a person is. Ovulation is a significant factor in determining fertility conditions for women. In fact, the five days leading up to and including ovulation is known as a woman’s fertile window. Therefore, the relationship between ovulation and fertility is all about timing.

Ovulation and Menstruation

A woman can only conceive within the constraints of her body’s unique, fertility window. The fertile window varies from woman to woman because menstrual cycles are different for everyone. A woman’s menstrual cycle prepares her body for pregnancy each month. Her cycle is measured starting on the first day of her period and ending on the first day of her next period. On average, most menstrual cycles last approximately 28 days. However, other adult women will have menstrual cycles lasting anywhere from 21 to 35 days. Additionally, there are teenage women who have menstrual cycles ranging from 21 to 45 days. Again, all women of childbearing age will experience their menstrual cycles uniquely.

Ovulation and Fertile Window

Although the fertile window varies depending on a woman’s individual menstrual cycle, what’s most important is the planning that goes into scheduling intercourse during the five days leading up to and including ovulation. This is because ovulation refers to the biological process by which a matured egg is released from a woman’s ovary, travels down her fallopian tube, and then waits for fertilization to occur. Approximately once every 28 days, an egg is released. Typically only one egg is released for fertilization. However, there have been cases where more than one egg is released. Hence, fraternal twins or triplets are conceived.

Technically, fertilization is only possible during the five days before ovulation and throughout ovulation. If a man and woman do not have intercourse within this time frame, pregnancy will most likely not be possible. This is because the fertile window also reflects the lifespan of a male’s sperm and the lifespan of a female’s egg. Sperm can only survive in a woman’s body for up to 5 days, and the egg can only survive for 24 hours after ovulation.

Ovulation and Timed Intercourse

Timing is everything. If intercourse takes place five days before a woman ovulates, the probability of pregnancy is approximately 10 percent. The probability of conception rises during the days leading up to and including the day of ovulation. Therefore, about 24 hours after ovulation, a woman can no longer get pregnant during that particular menstrual cycle. Her fertile window of opportunity has passed for that month. Having said that, intercourse is always recommended within 2 to 3 days before a woman ovulates and on the day of ovulation in order to optimize any chances for pregnancy.

Timed intercourse is an excellent treatment option for couples trying to conceive if no other fertility anomalies appear to exist. Precise monitoring of patients with or without fertility medications will help couples improve the timing of their intercourse. During this monitoring, ovulation will be tracked with blood or urine testing. These tests can determine when ovulation will take place by searching for the LH hormone surge.


Ovulation Induction and Intrauterine Insemination

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), also known as Artificial Insemination, is a procedure whereby the doctor inseminates partner and donor sperm into the uterus at ovulation to increase the chances of egg fertilization. Some women may also opt to increase their fertility with the use of oral or injectable medications. These medications produce one or more eggs from their ovaries which can enhance their pregnancy chances. Once they are ovulating, they can still have timed intercourse or they can time their ovulation with IUI.



Fertility Specialists in Long Island

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