If you’re like most women, your monthly cycle is not “average.” Only 5 to 10 percent of us have what many consider an “average” and “regular” 28-day cycle.
Whatever the length of a given cycle (which always begins on the first day of your period), it is composed of several distinct phases. These phases are regulated by hormones, and triggered by your brain. The most important phase of each cycle for family planning purposes is ovulation.
When you ovulate, an egg is released by your ovaries. It’s only when an egg is present that you can get pregnant. If the egg is not fertilized by sperm, it will only live 12-24 hours. Since sperm can live up to 5 days, intercourse within the 5 days leading up to ovulation may result in a pregnancy. That’s why it’s important to know when ovulation is approaching and when it actually occurs.
These fertile days are clearly signaled in a few different ways by your body. Once you learn to recognize these signs, you can know with certainty on any given day whether you could get pregnant or not.
Keep reading to learn more about why ovulation matters, below, and how you can know exactly when you’re fertile by reading the clear signs of your body.
Why ovulation matters
Most birth control methods work mainly by blocking ovulation through the use of synthetic hormones. These methods include:
- The Pill
- Vaginal rings (Nuvaring®)
- The skin patch
- Shots (Depo-Provera®)
- Hormonal IUD (Mirena®)
Your ovulation is a healthy and normal process, not an illness to be cured or suppressed with drugs. Blocking ovulation produces effects that go far beyond just preventing pregnancy. Studies show how it impacts you, your health, and your relationships.
For more on understanding your menstrual cycle, see the articles below.