Written by: Dr. Amy Beckley, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test — the first and only FDA-cleared test to confirm successful ovulation at home.
Written on 5/25/21
Understanding how long ovulation lasts can help you better understand how long you have to conceive each cycle.
If you’re trying to conceive, you probably know that ovulation is a critical point in your cycle. After all, it’s only around ovulation that conception is actually possible!
In fact, understanding how long ovulation lasts can help you better understand how long you have to conceive each cycle. Keep reading to learn more!
Why is ovulation important?
Ovulation is an important part of your menstrual cycle as it is around ovulation that intercourse is most likely to result in conception. Without an egg, conception just isn’t possible!
Additionally, ovulation is considered by doctors to be a marker of your overall health. Lack of ovulation may signal underlying health issues or a hormonal imbalance.
When does ovulation occur?
You may have heard that ovulation always occurs on cycle day 14. Contrary to popular belief, this assumption doesn’t always hold true.
This is because an ovulation day of cycle day 14 assumes that all women have a 28-day cycle. In fact, a normal cycle can last anywhere from 21 to 35 days.
Regardless of your cycle length, you should ovulate about midway through. While this is cycle day 14 for women with a 28-day cycle, you may ovulate earlier or later depending on your cycle length.
So does it matter what day of your cycle you ovulate? Nope! Healthy babies are born from eggs that have been ovulated at many points in the cycle.
Regardless of your cycle length, you should ovulate about midway through.
How do I know when I’m ovulating?
There are women who are extremely in tune with their bodies and can pinpoint their ovulation every month. Some of them experience “mittelschmerz” — a one sided abdominal pain associated with pre-ovulation.
Others may notice an increased production of fertile cervical mucus, which often resembles egg whites. Other preovulatory symptoms are breast tenderness, increased libido, bloating, or even slight spotting.
However, while you can assume you ovulate exactly halfway through your cycle or based on your symptoms, this guess may be slightly off. A study performed on 330 women trying to conceive showed that only 13 of them were able to estimate their ovulation day and, out of the 13, only 27% accurately estimated ovulation occurred on their actual days of peak fertility.
So how did these women get their ovulation day right? Enter ovulation tests!
Ovulation tests, like Proov Predict, measure luteinizing hormone (LH) levels in urine to predict when ovulation is going to occur. After an LH surge, ovulation should occur in about 12-36 hours. Note that ovulation prediction methods like ovulation tests and cervical mucus monitoring only predict ovulation; they tell you nothing about whether or not you actually ovulated (but more on this later!).
How long does ovulation last?
Once an egg is released (meaning once ovulation occurs), it is only viable for 12-24 hours. This means there is only a short amount of time when sperm can fertilize the egg.
This is why predicting ovulation and timing intercourse is so important when TTC! Sperm can actually live in a woman’s reproductive tract for up to 5 days, meaning having intercourse before an egg is released can help increase your chances of conception.
The 3-5 days leading up to and including the day of ovulation are known as your fertile window. Studies show that your most fertile days are days 3 (27% chance of conception), 2 (33%), and 1 (41%) before ovulation occurs.
Waiting to have intercourse until the day of ovulation lowers your chances of getting pregnant to 20%. Not having intercourse until the day after ovulation lowers your chances of conception to just 8%!
The 3-5 days leading up to and including the day of ovulation are known as your fertile window.
What should I do once I get a positive ovulation test?
Considering that ovulation occurs roughly 12 to 36 hours after you get your first positive LH test, it is ideal to start having intercourse even before you get that positive test result. We know though, that this is easier to do once you’ve tracked for a few cycles and can establish a pattern.
Not to worry though — even if you don’t have intercourse til you get a positive ovulation test, you’ll still have time to “try” before ovulation occurs.
But predicting ovulation is only a small piece of the puzzle. After you get a positive ovulation test that helps you predict when ovulation is going to occur, you’ll still want to confirm that ovulation occurred and that it was a “good enough” ovulation to allow for the best possible chance at conception.
It is possible to ovulate well and...not so well. A “successful” ovulation refers to an ovulatory event in which an egg is released and progesterone levels rise and remain adequately elevated for long enough to allow for the best possible chance at conception.
Progesterone is the hormone responsible for making the uterine lining “sticky” enough to allow for an embryo to implant. Without enough progesterone present after ovulation, it can be more difficult to get pregnant.
Luckily, Proov PdG tests are the first and only PdG tests to confirm successful ovulation at home. PdG is the urine metabolite of progesterone. Studies show that PdG levels in first morning urine show an average of all progesterone levels from the day before.
The Proov testing protocol recommends testing PdG levels on days 7, 8, 9, and 10 after peak fertility (i.e. a positive ovulation test). Why test during this window? Because it is the critical implantation window, when a fertilized egg will implant, if conception occurred that cycle. We like to see 3-4 positive PdG test results, with a positive on 10 DPP, during the testing window to confirm that successful ovulation did in fact occur. Anything less than this may be a sign of “weak” ovulation, which can make it more difficult to successfully conceive.
Understanding how long ovulation lasts can help you get pregnant faster! There are plenty of tools to help you predict and confirm ovulation.