During the ovulating phase of a woman’s cycle, an egg is released from one of the ovaries. It then travels down the fallopian tubes where it can become fertilized by sperm. The fertilized egg becomes attached to the lining of the uterus — but if fertilization has not taken place the egg is released with the lining of the uterus during menstruation.
For women whose monthly cycle is 28 days, ovulation occurs around day 14. So if you have a regular cycle, ovulation will take place around 14 days before your next period. This makes things much easier for women with a regular cycle to track their period and know when ovulation will occur. And if you’re trying to become pregnant, you’re most likely to conceive on the day that you ovulate and the 5 days beforehand.
But is it common to ovulate late? In reality, most women don’t have a regular cycle in one study only 10 percent of women ovulated on day 14. So 28 days is only an average — your cycle may be anywhere from 21 to 35 days. This doesn’t mean that you are less fertile, but it can make it more difficult to know that ovulation is about to occur. It also means that it can be more challenging to guess when sex is most likely to result in conception.
If ovulation occurs anytime after day 21 of the cycle, it is generally considered to be late.
There are many reasons for delayed ovulation. Here are some of the most common causes:
A wide range of medications can affect ovulation and fertility. These include:
- cancer chemotherapy
- Thyroid medications
Consult patient information literature or talk to your doctor if you think that your medication may be affecting your ovulation or fertility.
One of the natural results of breastfeeding is the change to your menstrual cycle. It’s completely normal for your period to be absent or irregular for the entire time that you’re breastfeeding. This means that your fertility will also be affected as a result.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects how well the ovaries work.
The main features of PCOS are:
- irregular menstruation
- high levels of male hormones
- enlarged ovaries that contain fluid-filled sacs around the eggs
In women with PCOS, the fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries do not release an egg and so ovulation does not occur.
If you’re one of the women who have PCOS, you may notice the following symptoms:
- irregular or absent menstruation
- difficulty getting pregnant
- excess hair on your face or chest
- general signs like thinning hair, oily skin, and weight gain
Speak to your doctor if you’re worried that you might have PCOS.
The thyroid is a gland at the front of the neck that makes hormones controlling heart rate, body temperature, and other important body indications. An overactive or underactive thyroid can both cause problems during ovulation.
An overactive thyroid may cause the following symptoms:
- mood swings
- tiredness or weakness
- an irregular or unusually fast heart rate
An underactive thyroid may cause the following symptoms:
- weight gain
- muscular aches
Your doctor will be able to advise you about possible treatment of thyroid problems.
It’s normal to feel stressed during the course of an average day or week. Personal or work challenges and a variety of other factors can make you feel anxious.
But when there’s too much stress in your life or it goes on for too long, it can have serious effects on your body. If your period has become very irregular or if you’ve been having trouble getting pregnant despite having regular sex with your partner, it’s possible stress may be the reason.
If you think that stress is having a negative effect on your life and overall well-being, consult your doctor. They’ll be able to advise you about counseling and treatment options.
While many women don’t ovulate exactly on day 14, it’s generally considered late if it occurs anytime after day 21. The best way to track this is to monitor your body’s signs of ovulation using any of the following methods.
Here are 3 of the most common signs that ovulation is occurring:
- Change in basal body temperature (BBT): Your BBT is the lowest temperature that your body reaches during any 24 hours. Using a special thermometer you can keep a record of the changes in your BBT.
- Changes in cervical mucus: The cervical mucus is the discharge you find in your underwear at any time of the month. For most of the cycle, it is thick and sticky, but around the time of ovulation, you might notice it becoming thinner and more slippery. You may also notice an increase in the amount of the mucus.
- Changes in the cervix: During ovulation, the cervix will be softer, wetter, and more open. You can tell this by putting your fingers into your vagina and feeling the cervix. This sign is more difficult to observe and will usually take some practice.
Ovulation causes other general symptoms that you might notice:
- breast sensitivity
- abdominal discomfort
- increased sex drive
Healthcare professionals are increasingly using ultrasound as an accurate way of monitoring ovulation. You can ask your doctor if this method is available to you.
You may find it helpful to record your symptoms and experiences in our mobile app. This will make it easier to see the patterns of your cycle and symptoms. It’s really easy and quite accurate, as more and more women are getting pregnant with Flo.
Women who ovulate late in their cycle may find that their early attempts to conceive are unsuccessful. Even if they know that they have late ovulation, it can be difficult to judge when intercourse will have the best chance of resulting in conception. Many women find this experience disheartening, particularly when their friends or relatives seem to conceive with little or no difficulty.
First things first: don’t be discouraged! Millions of women around the world experience late ovulation but become pregnant anyway. Rather than becoming pessimistic, try to focus on the positive steps you can take to increase the chances of becoming pregnant with late ovulation. One of the most important things you can do to help things along is to monitor your monthly cycle: the better you understand your cycle, the more likely you’ll know when you’re ovulating or about to ovulate.
Once an egg has been released from one of your ovaries, it begins its journey down a fallopian tube towards the uterus. From this point, it has 12-24 hours to be fertilized by sperm. This might seem like a very short time, but remember: sperm can remain in your fallopian tubes for several days. This means that even if you’ve had sex in the days before you ovulate, this can still give your egg a good chance of being fertilized.
When you and your partner are planning t conceive, keep these 2 methods in mind to increase your chances of scoring a fertilized egg:
- Cervical mucus:
Get into the habit of keeping track of your mucus.
Just before ovulation, you might notice an increase in clear and wet vaginal secretions.
You’ll also notice that it’s really stretchy - you might be able to get a couple of inches between two fingers. At this point, you know that ovulation is close at hand — time to get intimate with your partner!
Just after ovulation, cervical mucus decreases and becomes thicker, cloudy and less noticeable.
Practice getting to know your cervix by inserting a finger into your vagina while you’re sitting on the toilet or squatting. Make sure your fingernail is short!
For most of your cycle, the cervix will be hard, dry and closed, but as ovulation nears you’ll feel it become soft, wet and open.
- Ovulation tests:
Using home ovulation kits to determine fertile days is really effective.
You can read more about it in this article: A definitive guide to ovulation kits.
Late ovulation can affect your ability to become pregnant. If your menstrual cycle is irregular it can be more difficult to track and anticipate ovulation. As a result, you may not be able to judge when sex will be more likely to result in fertilization.
If you’re worried about any of the conditions or symptoms described above, seek advice from your trusted medical professional as soon as possible. They will be able to advise you about the range of treatment options that are available. They can also suggest lifestyle changes that can have a big impact on your fertility and general health.
The treatment for late ovulation depends upon the cause, but in most cases, there are medical and surgical options available to treat the condition. Your healthcare provider is the best person to consult when addressing these issues. The sooner you seek advice, the sooner you’ll be able to consider your options and choose the one that suits you best.