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How Long Does the Ovulation Period Last?


Updated May 29, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Question: How Long Does the Ovulation Period Last?

The ovulation period lasts 24 to 48 hours. That seems like a very narrow window to get pregnant, but it’s important to remember that sperm can live 3 to 5 days in the woman’s body.

So while your chances of getting pregnant are much better if you have sexual intercourse in the day or two before ovulation, it is possible to get pregnant from sexual intercourse that occurred up to five days before ovulation.

How do you know when your ovulation period occurs? There are many methods of tracking and predicting ovulation, from using ovulation testing kits to body basal temperature charting. Research has shown that the best way to time sex for pregnancy, and increase the chances of catching an egg during your ovulation period, is by tracking cervical mucus changes.

When your cervical mucus takes on the consistency of egg-whites, you’re more likely to get pregnant from sex on those days.

Some women with PCOS experience multiple patches of fertile cervical mucus throughout their menstrual cycles. That doesn’t mean their ovulation period is longer, but instead, the multiple patches are caused by abnormally elevated levels of LH.

If this is a problem for you, the last batch of days in a given cycle that you have fertile cervical mucus is the batch of days that most likely preceded your ovulation period. For example, if you detected fertile cervical mucus on days 8, 9, 12, 13, 16, 17, and 18 of your menstrual cycle, you can assume that sex on days 17 and 18 were the most likely to help you get pregnant.

More on how to get pregnant:

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