If you're trying to conceive, knowing when you begin to ovulate is key. And if you've been tracking your fertility for a while, you might be more familiar with the common signs of ovulation, such as wet or slippery cervical mucus and increased sex drive. However, you might be less familiar with the signs ovulation is over, and according to Proov Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh, determining as much can be a bit complicated.
"A common misconception is that ovulation is a single point in time, but rather [it's] a 28-day on average thing. The release of the egg occurs around the middle of the cycle but can vary [by person]. But that does not mean ovulation is over. The ovary then has the job of making hormones to prepare the ovary for implantation," Dr. Eyvazzadeh tells Scary Mommy.
So, how do you know when ovulation is really over? Your body will offer a few clues.
First, what is ovulation?
"Ovulation is the process that involves maturing an egg (ovum), releasing that egg from the ovary, and preparing the uterus for implantation in case the egg was fertilized," explains Eyvazzadeh. "Ovulation is required for conception and pregnancy. A typical ovulatory cycle takes 28 days to complete."
How can you tell for sure ovulation is over?
According to Eyvazzadeh, you know that ovulation is over when:
- You get a positive pregnancy test.
- Or you start menstrual bleeding because an embryo failed to implant.
"When ovulation is over, it means the woman is either pregnant or not pregnant," says Eyvazzadeh. "If not pregnant, the brain will signal to the ovary to start the process all over again. A normal woman should ovulate once every 24-35 days."
Eyvazzadeh's explanation of the ovulation process goes against what we might typically understand. "Ovulation is not just a single point in time, but a month-long process. Yes, there are about six days a cycle when women are most fertile, so it is important to have intercourse every two to three days if trying to conceive," Eyvazzadeh elaborates. "But the majority of couples have trouble conceiving because they have a problem with ovulation — so the egg might release, but it won't implant for a pregnancy. Therefore, ovulation should not just be thought of as a 'when to time intercourse' but rather the process of how the woman's body prepares for pregnancy (which takes about 28 days)."
According to Eyvazzadeh, tracking fertile days is not enough to confirm ovulation is over. "Women should consider themselves fertile until they can confirm ovulation is over, which is done via high PdG levels. Mucus, calendar apps, and LH-based ovulation tests can often be very, very wrong and should not be used to confirm ovulation is over. Doing so causes more confusion and trouble conceiving."
That said, there are a few clear hints that ovulation — meaning your most fertile time — is ending.
Your cervical mucus changes.
Your cervical mucus will likely be a slippery, egg-white consistency at your most fertile peak. When this period wanes, you will see it shift to more thick, creamy, and drier.
Your basal body temperature (BBT) increases.
One of the most significant confirmations of your fertility peak is whether there's an increase in your BBT. Changing hormone levels during ovulation lead to a spike in body temperature.
Your cervix changes.
As your body prepares for fertility, your cervix becomes softer, higher, and more open to welcome sperm. Near the end of this cycle, your cervix will become harder and close up.
Your libido decreases.
Mother Nature is a wise woman, which is why she makes us all feel a little hornier at our most fertile — she wants the human species to continue. You will see a downshift in your libido near the end of your peak fertility. *Womp, womp.*
What other symptoms might suggest ovulation is over?
Typically around ovulation, you will notice other changes, such as:
- Breast tenderness.
- Nausea due to your hormones changing.
Fortunately, when ovulation is coming to a close, you'll see relief from these symptoms.