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How long does ovulation take?

ovulation diary

Ovulation occurs every month and lasts for 12 to 48 hours. An egg is released from an ovary and travels down the fallopian tube. It needs to meet sperm within 24 hours of release to be fertilised. This short time is called the ‘ovulation period’ and usually takes place 14 days into a 28-day cycle.

Ovulation and the ‘fertility window’

If you’re trying to get pregnant, timing is important. An egg can only survive for 24 hours after release, so it needs to be fertilised by a sperm within this period.

Sperm can survive within the female body for up to five days so this increases the time in which fertilisation can occur. This time frame is called the ‘fertility window’ and lasts for six days, comprising ovulation and the five days before.

Having sex during the fertility window greatly increases your chances of getting pregnant. By having sex every couple of days, it’s more likely that a fresh egg will meet healthy sperm, resulting in a pregnancy.

Ovulation symptoms

Every woman’s menstrual cycle is different but recognising the signs that ovulation is taking place can really boost your chances of getting pregnant. While you may experience no symptoms at all, the following five changes are common during ovulation:

  1. Breast soreness: Hormonal changes can result in sore breasts and nipples, any sensitivity or tenderness can be a sign of ovulation.
  2. Libido: You may experience an increase in sex drive during ovulation. This times in with your fertility window and increases your chance of getting pregnant during sex.
  3. Spotting: Noticing a small amount of brown discharge or blood during ovulation is perfectly normal and is usually down to a drop in oestrogen levels.
  4. Mild abdominal pain: Many women experience cramping in the lower abdomen but it’s nothing to worry about. It can usually be felt on one side or the other and lasts anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.
  5. Heightened sense of smell: A heightened sense of smell is common during ovulation. It’s thought that this is the body’s way of responding to the fertile period by making you more attracted to male hormones.

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