If you're planning a pregnancy, or simply want to understand how your menstrual cycle works, it may be useful to know when you ovulate. The length of the ovarian cycle varies from one woman to another. Some women ovulate late. Here's a closer look at this phenomenon.
What is late ovulation?
We tend to say that ovulation takes place on the 14th day of the cycle. Not all women ovulate on the 14th day of the cycle.
Duration and phases of the menstrual cycle
First of all, the menstrual cycle is made up of 4 phases. The menstrual cycle lasts approximately 28 days. The first phase corresponds to menstruation or periods. The second is the follicular phase. It begins on the first day following the end of periods. It is during this period that the ovarian follicles mature under the effect of the FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone).
Once the oocyte has been expelled by a mature ovarian follicle, ovulation takes place. After ovulation comes the luteal period. During this period, the follicle's "empty shell" is transformed into a corpus luteum. It then begins to produce progesterone, which prepares the uterus for the potential implantation of a fertilized egg. On the other hand, if fertilization does not occur, the endometrium disintegrates: this is known as periods.
Delayed ovulatory phase
As explained above, the average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days. Ovulation generally occurs on the 14th day of a 28-day cycle. However, the length of the menstrual cycle varies not only from cycle to cycle, but also from woman to woman.
The luteal phase is always the same: 14 days. It's the follicular phase that varies from woman to woman. If it lasts longer, ovulation arrives later and the cycle is longer.
The opposite case: early ovulation
It may also happen that the follicular period lasts less than expected. In this case, ovulation will occur earlier.
What causes late ovulation?
Ovulation is considered late if it occurs after 21 days. There are many reasons for late ovulation. Some women naturally have longer cycles.
But other, more specific reasons can also lead to late ovulation. These include :
- Taking certain medications, such as antidepressants, chemotherapy, certain thyroid medications and steroids. Check with your doctor to find out which medications may affect your menstrual cycle;
- Breastfeeding can also have an impact on your menstrual cycle and its regularity. While you're breastfeeding, you may stop having your periods and your fertility may be affected;
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a very common pathology that has a direct impact on ovarian function. It is characterized by: irregular periods , excessively high levels of male hormones (leading to excessive hair growth and acne), and larger-than-normal ovaries with fluid-filled sacs around the eggs. In many women with PCOS, the ovaries do not release any eggs, so there is no ovulation;
- Thyroid dysfunction. The thyroid is a gland in the front of the neck that produces hormones to control heart rate, body temperature and much more;
- Stress : chronic stress can lead to hormonal imbalances, delaying ovulation.
How to recognize late ovulation?
Late ovulation is manifested by various symptoms:
- Changes in cervical mucus: at the moment of ovulation, it becomes more liquid and viscous, a little like egg white. It may also appear in greater quantities;
- Basal body temperature also changes during ovulation;
- The cervix also becomes softer, wetter and more open. This is the most difficult sign to observe because it requires you to insert your fingers into your vagina, touching the cervix;
- Breasts can also be more sensitive;
- Pain or discomfort may occur in the lower abdomen;
- And finally, you may have a higher libido.
What are the consequences of late ovulation for pregnancy?
Mathematically, women who ovulate late are less likely to get pregnant, as they ovulate less during the year. However, it's important to bear in mind that late ovulation doesn't necessarily mean that ovulation is of poorer quality. So there's nothing to stop you having a pregnancy project with your partner!
Should I seek medical advice if I'm ovulating late?
If your cycles have always been longer than average, there's no need to consult your doctor. But if you've noticed that your scycles have been getting longer for some time, it's a good idea to check with your gynecologist to detect a possible hormonal problem. Long, irregular cycles can be a sign of PCOS (which affects 5 to 10% of women of childbearing age).
If you're planning a pregnancy, we advise you to talk to a specialist after 12 to 18 months of trying to get pregnant. If you're older (38), you can consult a specialist after 6 months of trying, as fertility decreases with age.
Is it possible to ovulate just before the arrival of periods ?
As explained above, the duration of the luteal phase remains unchanged (14 days), even in the case of late ovulation. Only the duration of the follicular phase can be modified.
Late ovulation FAQs
Is it possible to ovulate 5 days before periods ?
It is possible to ovulate 5 days before the expected date of periods, but in this case periods will come 14 days after ovulation. Unlike the follicular phase, the duration of the luteal phase remains unchanged.
When should I take a pregnancy test if I'm ovulating late?
You can take a test after the expected date of periods, in relation to your last cycles. If you are planning to have a baby but your cycles are irregular, you can consult a gynecologist for help.
Is ovulation always 14 days before periods ?
The time between ovulation and periods is usually 14 days. However, some women ovulate early or late. If this happens repeatedly, we recommend that you discuss it with a doctor.