Ovulation is the stage in a woman’s menstrual cycle when the mature ovarian follicle ruptures to release a mature ovum. The ovum goes by many names, namely the female gamete, oocyte or the egg. The ovulation process includes the mature egg travelling down the fallopian tubes towards the uterus as it awaits a sperm to fertilize it. One egg is usually released from one follicle.
A woman is most fertile just before and during ovulation as the egg and the rest of the body prepares for the fertilization. Depending upon a woman’s body and menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs about six to twenty days after the first day of menstruation. Ovulation can last between five to ten days before the egg gives up its wait for the sperm and instead is shed out of the body with the uterine line during menstruation.
Estrogen is first released into the body as a signal that the body is prepared for ovulation. The hypothalamus in the brain controls the ovulation process by responding with a secretion of other hormones that allow the release of the egg. When nearing the time of ovulation, a woman experiences changes in her body temperature and there is an increase in the amount of mucus produced by the cervix. Sexual desire is often quite high and some women seem to be glowing. This is the body’s way of trying to attract a sperm to fertilize the waiting egg. Some women feel pain in their abdomen as the ovum is released, whilst others experience an increase in olfactory sensitivity.