How long does ovulation last? And what ovulation signs can you look out for to tell you it’s happening? We’ve got all the essential info here.
How long does ovulation last?
From the moment your ovary releases an egg, there’s a window of 12 to 24 hours when it can be fertilized by a sperm cell.
Really doesn’t seem that long, does it?!
But don’t worry: when you’re TTC, you don’t have to focus all your baby-making efforts on that short space of time.
You’ve actually got a few days when sex or insemination could lead to pregnancy.
Let’s explore further.
In this article: 📝
- How long does ovulation last?
- Do you need to have sex during ovulation to get pregnant?
- What are the signs of ovulation?
- How long do the symptoms of ovulation last?
- Can you get pregnant 2 days after ovulation?
- How do you know when ovulation is over?
How long does ovulation last?
First, a quick recap on how ovulation happens.
Day 1 of your cycle is the first day of your period.
On about day 14, after getting a surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) from your brain, one of your ovaries releases a mature egg.
This egg bursts through the wall of the ovary and is picked up by the fimbriae (fingerlike branches) at the end of the nearest fallopian tube.
Once inside the tube, the egg will stay alive for 12 to 24 hours.
So for conception to take place, a sperm cell needs to meet up with the egg and fertilize it during that time.
If the egg reaches the end of its life without being fertilized, it will be reabsorbed into your body or flow out with your next period.
Do you need to have sex during ovulation to get pregnant?
Nope—good news if you’re TTC.
Sperm can actually survive in your body for up to five days.
That gives you a window of about six days when sex or insemination could lead to pregnancy: the five days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation itself.
But timing sex to be as close as possible to ovulation will give you the best chance of conceiving.
You can do that by:
- Using an ovulation predictor kit (OPK) to detect if ovulation is on its way
- Keeping track of any ovulation signs that you usually experience
What are the signs of ovulation?
For many people, the most obvious sign that ovulation is approaching is a change in their vaginal discharge.
A few days before ovulation, it becomes very wet, slippery, and stretchy—something like raw egg whites.
So if you see any discharge like this, it’s a good indication that you’ll ovulate soon.
(Fun fact? This sticky substance is also a great medium for sperm to swim around inside your body while they wait for the egg to appear.)
If you see that your temperature has risen, that can be a sign that ovulation has happened.
Other, less common signs of ovulation include:
- Light bleeding or spotting around the middle of your cycle
- Pain or achiness near your ovaries (aka mittelschmerz)
- Tender breasts
How long do the symptoms of ovulation last?
Some symptoms of ovulation will only last for as long as ovulation itself is happening, while others might last for a few days on either side.
Let’s look at some examples:
How long does ovulation pain last?
Ovulation pain (or mittelschmerz) can last for as little as a few minutes or up to a few days.
You often feel it on just one side of your body.
How long does ovulation bleeding last?
Ovulation bleeding can last for a day or two.
It’s usually just very light spotting.
How long does ovulation bloating last?
This one can linger! You might experience bloating from around three days before ovulation and for up to seven days afterward.
It’s all because of the ebb and flow of the different fertility hormones around this time.
Can you get pregnant 2 days after ovulation?
It’s unlikely, but it could happen. Usually, your ovaries only release one egg per cycle, and then you have 12 to 24 hours when that egg can be fertilized.
But it is possible for your ovaries to release two eggs in a cycle, both in a 24-hour window.
So, say your ovaries release one egg and then another egg 24 hours later, you could potentially have 48 hours when there’s a possibility of conception.
How do you know when ovulation is over?
Again, checking your vaginal discharge is really helpful here.
Has the wet, egg-white-type discharge disappeared, leaving you feeling dry or just a little sticky?
That’s a pretty reliable sign that ovulation is done and dusted for this cycle.
And if you get familiar with your other typical signs of ovulation, observing when they stop could also give you a clue that ovulation is over.
Then it’s time for the TWW! 🤞