The actual process of ovulation, when an egg is released from the ovary and travels to the fallopian tubes, is a relatively quick process. Ovulation itself generally takes right around a day. Having said that, the question that most women are concerned with isn’t the specific amount of time that it takes to ovulate, but rather when exactly she can become pregnant. The answer to that question is not quite as cut and dried as the question of how long ovulation lasts.
The fact of the matter is that sperm can live, once they are in a woman’s body, for as long as five days after sexual intercourse. In addition, a woman could become pregnant on the actual day that she ovulates. This means, essentially, that there is around a six-day window during a woman’s monthly cycle when the sperm could fertilize an egg and she may be able to become pregnant.
Ovulation occurs, on the average, around 14 days prior to the time that your period will start. Depending on whether you have a cycle that is longer than 28 days or that is shorter than 28 days, this could be more or less than 14. This also means, then, that ovulation generally will occur 14 days after the start of your last menstrual period. This can vary greatly, however, as a woman who has a cycle that lasts 35 days won’t ovulate at the exact midpoint of her cycle, on what would be day 17; rather, she will ovulate on day 21, which is 14 days before the start of her next period.
If you are concerned about being able to know when you ovulate, there are a variety of tools available to you. There are relatively inexpensive Ovulation Predictor Kits (known as OPKs) that can help you to know when you are ovulating. In addition, you can track changes in Basal Body Temperature and cervical mucus to try to predict when you are going to ovulate, as well. While none of these methods can give you one hundred percent accurate results, and none of them can tell you how long a particular sperm will survive once it is in your body, these tools nevertheless might be able to help you properly time your attempt at conception.
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