A woman’s cycle is what determines her fertile window. This window is determined by her ovulation process and is the only time she has to conceive. One can therefore be left wondering what it is that happens during ovulation and immediately after ovulation that has so much effect on a woman’s ability to conceive.
By definition, ovulation is the process by which an egg is released from the follicle in the ovary allowing it to move along the nearest fallopian tube for fertilization and later implantation. This happens mid-cycle.
What Happens During Ovulation?
The follicular phase in a woman’s menstrual cycle is the one that precedes ovulation. The follicle stimulating hormone is produced to stimulate the growth of follicles. About 20 follicles are formed and each houses a developing egg.
The follicles then secrete estrogen and progesterone. Estrogens make the lining of the uterus to thicken and expand. It also causes an increase in the blood flow to the uterus. Progesterone stimulates uterine glands to secrete fluids that will nourish a fertilized egg after implantation.
After this there is a luteinizing hormone surge. This stimulates the egg to burst out of the follicle. When the egg is released, it gets to the closest fallopian tube. To facilitate its movement to the uterus, the tubes undergo some contractions and relaxation. This together with the cilia found at in the fallopian tubes facilitate its movement. In the meanwhile, the uterine lining continues to thicken.
Due to the hormonal changes experienced during ovulation, the basal body temperature rises with about 0.5 degrees. The cervical mucus increases and is stretchy. This helps to provide a good environment for the sperms that may have gained way to the reproductive system as they get ready to fertilize the released egg.
An increase in hormonal production leads to an increase in production of body oil. These oils are more than the body requires and therefore have to be released from the body. This is done through acne that forms on the face during ovulation.
As the egg is being released, the rapture of the ovarian wall causes damage to blood follicles. There may be some leakage of the follicular fluid too. These flow within the abdominal structures. As they do so they may irritate the abdominal cavity leading to cramping. Spotting is seen when the blood finds its way out.
Other physical changes that happen during ovulation are that the breasts become sore and sensitive to touch. Ovulation brings along with it a higher water retention capacity. As a result bloating may be experienced. The uterus becomes firm during at around this time too.
As may be natural, a woman who is ovulating may have an increased sexual desire as the body gets ready to conceive.
How Long after Ovulation Are You Fertile?
Once an egg has been released from the ovary, it has a life span of 24 hours. Fertilization has to take place within this timespan since it degenerates after this and cannot undergo fertilization.
While this timespan may appear too short, sperms that may have been deposited before ovulation can last up to five days while within a woman’s reproductive system. The days before ovulation are therefore referred to as fertile.
What Happens after Ovulation?
After ovulation has taken place, transportation of the egg begins. This transportation begins after ovulation and ends once it reaches the uterus for implantation. The fallopian tubes have finger like ends known as fimbrae which have adhesive cilia that pick up and move the egg into it. They sweep the egg off from the ruptured surface of the ovary into the fallopian tubes.
Other cilia found in the tube combine efforts with the contracting muscles to create a forward motion with which the egg is pushed towards the ampular-isthmic junction. This is at the end of the fallopian tube and is where fertilization takes place. This process can be impaired if the fimbriae is damaged. This could be caused by pelvic inflammation.
When the egg gets to the junction, it stagnates there for a while. It is while at this state of rest that the union of the egg with the sperm occurs. This is what is known as fertilization. This rest helps the fertilized egg to develop fully and the uterine lining to get ready to receive it.
The contact between the egg and sperm has to take place within 24 hours after ovulation. The membrane that surrounds the egg which is known as zona pellucida contains sperm receptors. Once the sperms penetrate the membrane, it (zona pellucida) produces some secretion that makes it impermeable. This way, no other sperm can penetrate it. If the fallopian tubes are faulty, the risk of getting an ectopic pregnancy increases. This will make implantation to occur on the fallopian tubes as opposed to the fertilized egg moving to the uterus.
After the penetration, the fertilized egg undergoes mitotic cell division. This marks the transition of the single celled zygote into a blastocyst. Once in this stage the blastocyst hatches out of the zona pellucida. It is at this point that the implantation process starts.
Implantation begins around six days after fertilization. After the blastocyst hatches, it secretes a hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This stimulates the corpus luteum to continue producing progesterone. The blastocyst burrows into the endometrium and adheres to it. It takes a number of days for it to be completely attached. It is from this point that the egg is attached that the embryo develops to maturity.
When implantation takes place, a number of symptoms are experienced. These include:
- Cramping inside the uterus
- Implantation spotting which is experienced briefly as a result of the burrowing into the endometrium. This may be for a day or two and is light pink or brown in color
- A temperature shift is likely to be experienced
- The breasts become sore
- Nausea is likely to kick in
The process of ovulation is not a complicated one. Understanding it is an important thing as this will help one know when to try to conceive. For people who wish to use natural ways of family planning, this is also a great step towards achieving that.
Though the general occurrences are similar in every woman, no woman’s cycle is like the other. While some may experience differing symptoms of the various stages in the cycle, others have a symptom free cycle and are perfectly normal. It is upon each individual to understand their own using the guidelines given.
Suggested Further Reading:
- Signs of Ovulation – Physical, Discharge, Cramping & Clomid
- How to calculate Ovulation Date & How to Track Ovulation
- Ovulation Test Kits – How Do Ovulation Kits Work, Do They Work
- Ovulation Predictor Kits – Best, Calendar, Calculator & Use
- How Long Do You Ovulate & How Long Does an Egg Last After Ovulation
- Ovulation Test Strips – Best, Cheap, Instructions to Use Them
- Brown or Pink Spotting After Ovulation – Days after Ovulation
- Ovulation Charts – Temperature, Printable & Free
- Ovary or Ovarian Pain during Ovulation and After Ovulation
- Cramping during Ovulation – Before, Mild or Band Cramps
- Bleeding During Ovulation – Meaning, Before and After