Our bodies are beautifully complex. For every rule, there seems to be an exception. So what about ovulation? Can you ovulate twice in a month?
Ovulation, as the story goes, happens only once a month.
It usually occurs two weeks before your period and then waits its turn until the following cycle.
But is there more to this tale than we’ve been told? Can you ovulate twice in a month? Is this even possible?
Hold onto your seats because things are about to get really, well, confusing.
Luckily we have embryology expert Navya Muralidhar on hand to help.
In this article: 📝
- What is ovulation?
- How many times can ovulation occur in a month?
- What causes double ovulation?
- Is it possible to ovulate twice?
What is ovulation?
Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from one of your ovaries.
It’s triggered by a surge of what’s called the luteinizing hormone (LH) and happens somewhere around Day 14 of your cycle (with Day 1 being the first day of your period.)
LH works closely with another hormone called the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
Together, they are responsible for the growing, maturing, and releasing of your eggs.
Between about Day 6 and Day 14, your eggs mature within little fluid-filled sacs in the ovary called follicles.
Once an egg is released, it heads off down your fallopian tube, where it hangs out for something between twelve and 24 hours.
In some cases, it might meet a suitable sperm there, and they may run off into the sunset of the lining of your uterus to implant themselves.
And if said egg doesn’t meet up with said sperm, it travels out of your body with your next period.
There’s usually a gap of somewhere between 21 and 35 days between one ovulation session and the next. And each ovary alternates from month to month to release an egg.
How many times can ovulation occur in a month?
Right. Now to throw a spanner in the works — the existence of fraternal twins (that’s the non-identical type) and multiples.
These are twins that result from two different eggs being fertilized by two different sperm. (With fraternal multiples, think additional eggs fertilized by additional sperm.)
But hold on. Don’t your ovaries release only one egg at a time? Well, in some cases, they do double duty.
In a process known as hyperovulation or multiple ovulation, it’s possible to release more than one egg during the same cycle.
This may mean one of two things:
- Each ovary releases an egg.
- Two eggs are released by one ovary.
So rather than ovulating twice a month, these twins result from ovulating once — but double the amount.
What causes double ovulation?
While there’s no one cause, hormones are certainly in control of operations here.
To understand this, let’s return to the stars of this show — FSH and LH.
Near the beginning of your cycle, FSH spurs the growth and development of a few follicles. Each follicle contains one egg.
Then, the race is on to see which of the follicles will be the winner.
Generally, this is not a race you want to come second or third in because the victor is usually the only mature survivor.
The other follicles die out. Yeesh.
The mature follicle transitions from FSH dependence to LH dependence as FSH takes a break and LH kicks into gear.
This ensures that the egg in the dominant follicle matures and is released in the form of ovulation.
If your body gets word that conception has taken place, FSH stops promoting the growth of follicles until it gets the go-ahead again.
Now, to make things complicated, sometimes there’s more than one winner in this race, and two (or three or eight) follicles mature and release.
And this may have to do with FSH levels not dropping off, as is the case with single ovulation.
Why this happens is still up for debate. But we do know that certain key indicators up the chances of hyperovulation. These include:
- Genes. Scientists have found certain genetic factors at play when it comes to the existence of fraternal twins within families. One gene that is under review is FSHB, responsible for the production of FSH.
- Fertility treatments. “Some treatments like hormonal stimulation and IUI may cause multiple eggs to mature and release,” says Navya. “With IVF, controlled ovarian stimulation is done to induce multiple egg growth, but the eggs are retrieved via a surgical procedure.”
- Age. Age can have an impact on our FSH levels, which could, in turn, have an impact on ovulation.
Okay. So, that’s releasing more than one egg. What about ovulating at different times in one cycle?
Is it possible to ovulate twice?
If this is true, it potentially explains the existence of fraternal twins with different birthdates.
It also might account for the slight chance that hormonal contraception doesn’t work for everyone every time.
But even the authors of the study weren’t too sure about this one, unable to confirm for sure if it was actually two mature eggs that were released at different times of the month.
So the bottom line is that we have not quite reached the bottom line.
One thing we do know for sure is that none of us have to go through this alone.
If you’re currently TTC, we understand that this journey can be filled with all sorts of big emotions.
Join us on Peanut. We’re having the conversation.