When does ovulation take place?

Dear Doctor,

How can I tell that I am ovulating? My friend says there are symptoms but I don’t think I have ever experienced any.


Dear Lyn,

Ovulation is the process of release of an egg on a monthly basis and is part of the reproductive system of a woman.  If the egg meets a sperm, it can be fertilised and one conceives a baby.

There are definite symptoms of ovulation, which may be mild in some women, while more marked in some. The symptoms may pass unnoticed due to lack of awareness.

Ovulation usually occurs from the 14th to 21st day of the menstrual cycle. Though, it may vary as per the menstrual cycle of a woman. It may be irregular in women having irregular menstrual cycles. However, some symptoms occur regularly. A couple planning to have a baby should be aware of signs of ovulation and plan coitus on days when ovulation occurs.

The basal body temperature of the body usually rises during ovulation. It is in fact used as a sign to determine the day of ovulation. One can keep a thermometer near the bed. After waking up in the morning, first thing one should do is to put a thermometer in the mouth and measure the oral temperature. An increase in temperature by 0.5 to 1 degrees from the basal body temperature (97.2 to 97.6 degrees Fahrenheit), is suggestive that ovulation has occurred. This can be watched for a few months so that precise days of ovulation can be known.

The cervical mucus (discharge from the lower end of the uterus) becomes thick and tenacious. It can be felt by fingers. When squeezed between two fingers it feels wet and slippery. The tip of the cervix becomes hard like the tip of the nose at the time of ovulation.

Some women experience a heightened sense of smell during ovulation. During this phase, a female body is primed to be more attracted to the male pheromone androstenone.

Due to the surge of hormones just before ovulation and after it, a woman can experience tenderness and soreness over the breasts and or nipples. Some women experience pain in the lower abdomen, which usually occurs on one or other side. This may last from a few minutes to hours and varies from mild to severe in intensity. There may be associated nausea and or vomiting. 

Brown discharge or spotting, though not very common, but can occur during days of ovulation in some women. However, if the discharge is persistent, medical help should be sought as it could be a sign of ectopic pregnancy (implantation of fertilised ovum outside the uterus) or even infection of the pelvic parts.

Increased libido is also experienced by many women during ovulation. This is nature’s way to ensure the propagation of species. But one cannot rely on it much, as increased libido can be due to several other causes like influence of alcohol, being in the mood emotionally, meeting a beloved partner, and etcetera.

A woman may not have all the symptoms at the same time. But if she is aware of them, she can track her days of ovulation and conceive.

 Dr. Rachna   Pande is a specialist in internal medicine.