Late ovulation: what impact on pregnancy?

Ovulation tardive : quel impact sur la grossesse ?

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. But 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 is the menstrual period. The second is the follicular phase. It begins on the first day following the end of menstruation. During this period, 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 menstruation.

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 from cycle to cycle, and 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 occurs later and the cycle is longer.

The opposite case: early ovulation

It can 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 causes of late ovulation. Some women naturally have longer cycles.

But there are also more specific reasons for late ovulation. These include :

  • Taking certain medications, such as antidepressants, chemotherapy, certain thyroid medications and steroids. You can ask your doctor which medications may affect your menstrual cycle;
  • Breast-feeding can also have an impact on your menstrual cycle and its regularity. While you're breastfeeding, you may miss your period and your fertility may be affected;
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a very common pathology that has a direct impact on your menstrual function. It is characterized by irregular menstrual 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 located at the front of the neck which allows 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?

Delayed ovulation manifests itself through various symptoms:

  • Changes in the cervical mucus: at the moment of ovulation, the mucus becomes more liquid and viscous, rather like egg white. It may also appear in higher 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, as it requires you to insert your fingers into your vagina, touching the cervix;
  • The breasts may also be more sensitive;
  • There may bepain or discomfort 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 become pregnant, as they have fewer ovulations 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 seek medical advice. But if you've noticed that your cycles 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 5-10% of women of childbearing age).

If you are planning a pregnancy, we recommend that you speak to a specialist after 12 to 18 months of trying to become 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 menstruation?

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 FAQ

Is it possible to ovulate 5 days before menstruation?

It is possible to ovulate 5 days before the expected date of menstruation, but in this case menstruation will come 14 days after ovulation. The duration of the luteal phase remains unchanged, unlike the follicular phase.

When should I take a pregnancy test if I'm ovulating late?

You can take a test after the expected date of your period, in relation to your most recent cycles. If you're planning to have a baby, but your cycles are irregular, you can consult a gynaecologist for help.

Is ovulation always 14 days before my period?

The time between ovulation and menstruation is usually 14 days. However, some women ovulate early or late. If this happens repeatedly, we recommend that you discuss it with a doctor.

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The information contained in the articles on is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.