6 Things to Know About Ovulation
Graphic: A diagram indicating that peak fertility occurs between days 12 and 14 of an average 28-day menstrual cycle. Ovulation occurs at about day 14.
90% of women don’t know that 2 days before through the day of ovulation is the best time to try to get pregnant.
25% of women don’t know a normal menstrual cycle can very between 21 and 35 days; 28 days is the average.
The Science Behind Your Monthly Cycle
Ovulation — the process of an egg leaving the ovary and traveling into the fallopian tube — occurs at about day 14 of an average 28-day cycle. Here’s how it works:
Graphic: A side profile of a brain. The hypothalamus appears in the lower center of the brain and is labeled “low estrogen.” An arrow points down to the pituitary gland, which is just under the hypothalamus. From the pituitary gland is a dotted line that travels down to an illustration of a female reproductive system. The dotted line ends with an arrow pointing to an ovary. Along the dotted line is a label for FSH, the hormone produced by the pituitary gland. Inside the ovary there is an illustration of an egg inside of a follicle. This drawing is labeled “estrogen.” The illustration shows the progression of the egg in the follicle to the egg being released from the follicle. This part of the drawing is labeled “LH (from pituitary gland).” An arrow points from the follicle releasing the egg to a drawing of an egg traveling into the fallopian tube. Below the lone egg is an empty follicle. An arrow, labeled “progesterone,” points from the empty follicle to the uterus. A thick line on the edge of the uterus represents the thickening of the uterine lining. An arrow from the thick line points down to drops of liquid passing out of the body through the vagina.
List of six items:
- When the body’s level of estrogen (a hormone) drops, the hypothalamus in the brain alerts its neighbor, the pituitary gland.
- The pituitary gland sends out follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which helps follicles in the ovary to mature. Each ovarian follicle contains an egg. Mature follicles and eggs make estrogen.
- When the body’s estrogen level is restored, the pituitary gland sends out luteinizing hormone (LH) to open the mature follicle.
- A day or so later, the follicle then releases its egg into the fallopian tube.
- The empty follicle makes the hormone progesterone. Progesterone helps the uterus prepare for pregnancy by thickening its lining.
- If no pregnancy occurs, the follicle stops make progesterone. The thickened lining and other tissues pass out of the uterus as a menstrual period.
Like blood pressure and heart rate, a woman’s menstrual cycle is a sign of her overall health. Menstrual irregularities — such as missing a period or having a heavier-than-usual period — could signal a health problem. To learn more, visit http://go.usa.gov/8a3H.
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