Ovulation: What is it and how does it affect you?

Ovulation refers to the release of an egg during menstruation in females.

Part of the ovary called the ovarian follicle discharges an egg. The egg is also known as an ovum, oocyte, or female gamete. It is only released on reaching maturity.

After release, the egg travels down the fallopian tube, where it may be met by a sperm and become fertilized.

Ovulation and hormonal release during the menstrual cycle are controlled by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. It sends signals instructing the anterior lobe and pituitary gland to secrete luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).

It is useful to know when ovulation is likely to occur, as a woman is most fertile during this time, and more likely to conceive.

Phases

Ovulation
Ovulation is the release of an egg, or ovum, which may then be fertilized by a sperm cell or dissolved during menstruation.

The ovulation process is defined by a period of elevated hormones during the menstrual cycle. It can be divided into 3 phases:

The periovulatory or follicular phase: A layer of cells around the ovum begins to mucify, or become more like mucus, and expand. The uterus lining begins to thicken.

The ovulatory phase: Enzymes are secreted and form a hole, or stigma. The ovum and its network of cells use the stigma to move into the fallopian tube. This is the period of fertility and usually lasts from 24 to 48 hours.

The postovulatory or luteal phase: LH is secreted. A fertilized egg will be implanted into the womb, while an unfertilized egg slowly stops producing hormones and dissolves within 24 hours.

The lining of the uterus also begins to break down and prepares to exit the body during menstruation, or menses.

Ovulation calendar
There are apps and websites that can help to predict when ovulation will occur,
increasing the chances of conception.

An ovulation calendar is designed to help a woman predict when she will be most fertile.

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