The Truth About Getting Pregnant Without Ovulating
The menstrual cycle is a mystery for many people, including women. Many of us are…
The menstrual cycle is a mystery for many people, including women. Many of us are still unaware of why and when we get our periods and how we get pregnant. The menstrual cycle is the entire cycle of events beginning from the first day of a period to the next period. Several organs and hormones in a woman’s reproductive system function simultaneously, which may/may not lead to pregnancy after having sex. Let us know the science behind getting pregnant without ovulating through this article!
What is Ovulation?
Ovulation is that time in a woman’s menstrual cycle when eggs are produced in the ovaries. Through the fallopian tube, these eggs travel to the uterus, where they are expected to meet sperm. Ovulation is usually a 16-32 hour window, roughly 2 weeks after the menstruation begins. If the uterus receives sperm during or a few days before ovulation, you will likely get pregnant. And, if no sperms are received or no fertilization takes place, you will get your periods as usual.
If you are trying to get pregnant or trying to avoid it, understand the basics of this menstrual cycle. It will make your fertility aware and help you plan your family accordingly. But can you get pregnant without ovulating? This article tells you the truth about getting pregnant without ovulating and much more.
How Ovulation Works
The mature eggs released from a female’s ovary are alive for about 16-32 hours. Whereas sperm is active for up to 5 days in a female’s body after being ejected from the male. Therefore, a woman’s uterus is highly fertile from around 3 days before ovulation until a day after it. If the sperms meet the eggs during this window, the woman can get pregnant. These days may vary depending on the menstrual cycle of an individual.
If no sperm comes in contact with the eggs, the uterine lining breaks, and the woman gets her subsequent periods. This is why regular menstruation is associated with good fertility. The number of days we have mentioned here is typical for someone with a 28-32 day cycle. This may vary from person to person. For instance, a person with a shorter menstrual cycle, that is, longer periods, will ovulate sooner.
Signs of Ovulation
Just like home tests for pregnancy, urine tests are also available to check ovulation. But if you do not want to use these, there are some signs that your body shows to indicate that you might be ovulating.
Here are some of the signs
- Change in Vaginal Secretions: During ovulation, you may notice changes in the secretions from the vagina. This discharge, called cervical mucus, is more wet, clear, and sticky than the usual vaginal discharge. Once the ovulation ends, the discharge is usually unnoticeable.
- Change in Body Temperature: The basal body temperature is the body temperature when you are at rest. It rises a bit during ovulation. You are fertile from 2-3 days before this change. You can track this by checking your temperature soon after you wake up in the morning every day.
- Slight Abdominal Pain: Some women notice slight abdominal pain on one side of the stomach during ovulation. This happens when the ovary is producing eggs.
- Breast Enlargement: Breast tenderness or enlargement could also be a sign of ovulation.
Some of these signs are sometimes mistaken for pregnancy. However, if you count the days to your next menstruation, you can identify whether it is pregnancy. If there are two more weeks to your following periods, these signs are most likely not of pregnancy.
Factors Affecting Ovulation
Do you ovulate every month? No, you need not necessarily ovulate every month. In some conditions, you may not be ovulating. For example, if you are already pregnant, you won’t ovulate. Or, if you are taking a contraceptive pill to avoid pregnancy, the body responds by stopping ovulation. And, of course, after menopause, you don’t ovulate. Other factors that can affect ovulation are:
- PCOS: Women with polycystic ovary syndrome are likely to have irregular ovulation.
- Smoking/Drinking: Smoking, drinking, or substance abuse is a significant cause of infertility.
- Being Obese/Underweight: Being obese or underweight is considered to affect the functioning of the ovaries.
- Heavy Physical Movement: Heavy physical labor and exercise can cause infertility in women.
- Chemotherapy/Radiation Therapy: Women who underwent chemotherapy or radiation therapy can lose their fertility.
- Health Conditions: Other health conditions like endometriosis, thyroid issues, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
If you are struggling with infertility issues, which means you have not been able to conceive after trying for one year, you must meet a gynecologist to analyze your condition.
Can You Get Pregnant Without Ovulating?
Pregnancy occurs when the eggs released by female ovaries are fertilized by sperm. Therefore, it is clear that you cannot get pregnant if you don’t ovulate. Medical treatments are available to trigger ovulation for women who do not ovulate often. If you know that you have an anovulatory cycle or want to know if it is, meet your doctor. This issue can be resolved by medication in the case of most women.
On the other hand, one doesn’t necessarily get pregnant only during the ovulation period. Depending on various factors, a woman can get pregnant anytime during her menstrual cycle if she has “unprotected” sex. The probability of getting pregnant sometimes is higher than at some other time, that’s all! For example, the chances of getting pregnant during the luteal phase are much lower than during the fertile window. The phase after ovulation until the next menstruation is called the luteal phase.
Some conditions, such as light spotting, abdominal cramps, bloating, breast tenderness, etc.. may occur during ovulation. These are also pregnancy symptoms and might make you think you are pregnant. If your period is due only 12-15 days later, then most likely, you are just ovulating. Otherwise, get a pregnancy test!
Fertility Awareness Methods
We have already established that your fertility depends on your ovulation. So, if you are trying to get pregnant, you know the most fertile window. This is the time that you must have sex so that the sperm can fertilize the eggs. The awareness about this process and its impact on your fertility is called fertility awareness. Fertility awareness is the best method to hit the jackpot in minimal trials if that is what you want!
Otherwise, if you are looking to avoid pregnancy, use contraceptive pills which control your ovulation or have protected sex only, which prevents the sperm from reaching the eggs. This applies to any time of the year, especially during the fertile window.
Many women do such natural family planning and do not prefer contraceptive pills or protection. It is done by calculating the ovulation dates and keeping track of fertility signs such as changes in basal body temperature and cervical discharge. There are other ways too to track your ovulation.
How to Track Ovulation?
There are charts and apps available which can quickly tell you the most likely time of ovulation using some simple information. All you need to enter is the first day of your last menstrual period(LMP) and the length of your menstrual cycle. Many apps have calculators and calendars that can remind you when your ovulation will begin. You can also record your basal temperature every morning when you wake up to identify any changes.
The issue with a large section of women who cannot conceive is either irregular ovulation or no ovulation. These can be treated by oral medication. The drugs that are prescribed by doctors act like hormones, such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone(LH). They block estrogen receptors and make the body think that the estrogen level is low. This causes the release of multiple eggs of better quality. The success rate of such treatments is relatively high and sometimes also results in multiple pregnancies.
Apart from oral medications, injections or surgeries may sometimes be needed. The side effects are risks involved with these methods are higher. It could cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), leading to painful ovaries, sudden weight gain, etc. There is also a long-term risk of ovarian tumors. Surgeries are done to fix anatomical issues and are rarely needed.
How to Improve Chances of Ovulation
A healthy lifestyle is the answer to many health issues people face now. Stress is often a reason for irregular menstruation. Taking care of your mind and managing your stress is essential to have a regular menstrual cycle. Sleep well and eat well too. Try to avoid a lot of fatty and spicy food. Home-made balanced meals are the best. Keep a check on your weight and avoid having junk food. A good diet must be supplemented with some daily exercise. However, as we mentioned earlier, excessive exercise could adversely affect your menstrual cycle and ovulation.
People who want to get pregnant or who want to avoid it must understand the concept of fertility and how the menstrual cycle works. Ovulation is that part of the menstrual cycle that produces eggs in a female. The fertility of a woman largely depends on this process. Only if the eggs are produced can they be fertilized. If such fertilization doesn’t occur, the woman bleeds again during her next menstruation, and the cycle continues. The truth about getting pregnant without ovulating is that it is not possible.
There are oral and injectional medications available to stimulate ovulation. You can keep track of your ovulation using some charts and apps. Approach your medical practitioner to understand your issue in detail and find solutions.