What Is Causing Your Early Ovulation and Can It Be Fixed?
We all know that everyone’s cycle and ovulation patterns are unique. However, when it comes to getting pregnant, ovulating too early may hinder your TTC efforts.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about early ovulation, how it can impact conception, and potential treatment methods for regulating your cycle. We’ll also follow up with some of your most frequently asked questions about early ovulation.
What is considered early ovulation?
Among women of reproductive age, it is common for ovulation to occur anytime between days 6 to 21 of the menstrual cycle. However, it’s important to note that ovulation occurring prior to day 11 is considered early and may cause difficulties with conception.
For more information on the timing of ovulation, check out our article, How Long Does Ovulation Last? (Ovulation Window Guide).
A guide to early ovulation
Is it bad to ovulate early?
If you are trying to conceive (TTC), ovulating on the early side may hinder your efforts to get pregnant.
This is backed by one study which found that those who ovulate before day 11 of their cycle have a reduced chance of conception when compared to women who ovulate later than day 11. Another study measured the follicular phases of women who were pregnant, finding that those with a history of miscarriage tended to ovulate 2.2 days earlier compared to others without a history of miscarriage.
However, it’s important to bear in mind that early ovulation isn’t necessarily always bad for pregnancy, with another study reporting a successful pregnancy and delivery in a case where ovulation occurred as early as cycle day 8.
If you are not TTC, ovulating early does not necessarily pose any immediate risk to your health. However, it may be a sign of reduced fertility which could be caused by a number of underlying medical conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and/or other cervical, uterine, or pelvic issues.
Early ovulation signs
The signs and symptoms of early ovulation are exactly the same as the standard ovulation symptoms. Here’s a brief overview of a few specific symptoms you can look out for.
One common symptom of ovulation is breast tenderness and soreness (or cyclical mastalgia). This type of pain may cause the breasts to feel fuller, heavier, and more sensitive than usual. You may even notice actual physical swelling of the breasts, and it’s also possible to feel pain and sensitivity in the nipples and underarms.
For more information on breast tenderness around ovulation, check out our article Do Breasts Hurt During Ovulation? (What to Expect when TTC).
Change in libido
An increase in libido is another one of the most common signs that ovulation is approaching This symptom is caused by rising estrogen levels, and it can make you feel more interested in having sex with your partner – which is a great thing if you are TTC.
Change in BBT
Another common symptom of ovulation to watch out for is changes in your basal body temperature (BBT). If you measure and track your BBT over several cycles, you will notice that it tends to drop right before ovulation before rising quickly after ovulation.
For more information on the BBT method and how to use it to track ovulation, check out our article A Guide to Basal Body Temperature and Ovulation (+BBT Chart).
Change in discharge
It is also possible to notice changes in the color and texture of your discharge around the time of ovulation. Specifically, you may notice that your discharge looks and feels a bit like raw egg whites – i.e. clear, stretchy, and slippery.
For more detailed information on changes in cervical mucus around ovulation, check out our article Cervical Mucus Changes During Ovulation.
What causes early ovulation?
As women age and approach menopause, it is common for their cycle length to become more irregular and even shorten over time. In turn, this can affect how early ovulation happens. While menopause “officially” begins once you’ve experienced 12 months without a period, perimenopausal symptoms (such as shortened cycle lengths) can start to begin as early as your mid-30’s.
There are also certain lifestyle factors that can impact fertility and disrupt ovulation. This includes things like your stress levels, diet, tobacco and substance use, and sleeping patterns. Making sure that your mind and body are healthy is one of the first (and most important) steps you can take towards regulating your menstrual cycle.
Being under or overweight may also cause ovulation to occur too early. For example, being overweight may cause symptoms of PCOS to develop or worsen, and it can also prevent the body from producing viable eggs. On the other hand, those who are underweight may also experience hormonal imbalances that prevent the menstrual cycle from staying regulated.
Stress or illness
Those experiencing high levels of stress on the body or certain chronic illnesses may also struggle to maintain a regular menstrual cycle. For example, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), diminished ovarian reserve (DOR), functional hypothalamic amenorrhea (FHA), and pituitary gland dysfunction as all being potential conditions that may affect ovarian function.
In some cases, there is simply no explanation for why ovulation may occur earlier than normal. Remember, even if your cycle is regular, research suggests that it’s perfectly normal to experience some irregularity from time to time. However, if you are consistently ovulating earlier than average, or if your cycle length has shortened over time, it might be a good idea to speak with your doctor to explore potential reasons why this is happening – especially if it is impacting your ability to conceive.
Early ovulation treatments
To treat early ovulation and to help regulate the menstrual cycle, it may be necessary to undergo certain fertility treatments. For example, tablets such as Clomid or injections containing follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), or human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) are all options that your doctor may consider.
In rare cases, it may also be necessary to have surgery in order to investigate and/or repair any physical problems in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus.
Certain lifestyle changes can go a long way to help regulate your ovulation patterns and improve fertility. Here are a few changes that you can start implementing today:
- Keep stress levels low by not taking on too many responsibilities at home or at work, and by giving yourself plenty of time to relax each day.
- Maintain a healthy weight by eating a nutrient-rich diet packed with plenty of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Exercise regularly – this not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, but it can also reduce your stress levels.
- Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
Last but not least, try to limit or halt consumption of substances that may cause stress or weight fluctuations. This includes caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and tobacco products.
Consult your doctor
If you have tried to make the necessary lifestyle changes but are still struggling to keep your menstrual cycle regulated, it’s a good idea to schedule a consultation with your doctor. They can then provide the best guidance for your situation based on your fertility goals.
Early ovulation and pregnancy
On average, we know that it’s perfectly normal to ovulate as early as 6 day into the menstrual cycle. However, when it comes to getting pregnant, research suggests that ovulating prior to day 11 of the cycle may reduce your chances of conceiving.
What’s going on inside your body
To better understand why this is the case, let’s think about the process behind ovulation and conception.
Prior to ovulation is the follicular phase, which begins on the first day of menstruation. A few key processes occur during this phase including:
- The shedding of the endometrium (i.e. your period).
- The follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) then stimulates the growth of 5-20 follicles in the ovaries.
- A dominant follicle stands out by approximately day 7, while the others die off.
- The dominant follicle develops into an egg and produces estrogen.
Heightened estrogen levels help to facilitate an environment where sperm can easily travel to the egg – this is why your cervical mucus appears stretchier than usual around ovulation. Not only that, but estrogen also helps your body build a new layer of the endometrium which then helps with the implantation process.
If the follicular phase is shortened, these key processes may not have enough time to fully take place. In some cases, this can lead to the following complexities with conception and early pregnancy:
- The dominant follicle may not have enough time to fully develop into a mature egg.
- Your body may not produce enough of the egg-white cervical mucus needed to help sperm reach the egg.
- The endometrial lining of your uterus may not be developed enough to support the life of a fertilized egg, resulting in an elevated risk of miscarriage.
Early ovulation FAQs
Can you ovulate early and still get pregnant?
Yes. It is still possible to get pregnant even if ovulation occurs early. However, the risk of miscarriage may increase in cases where the endometrial lining of the uterus has not had enough time to develop before conception, due to a shorted follicular phase.
Can ovulation occur immediately after your period?
Although rare, it is possible for ovulation to occur immediately after your period. This is especially true in cases where the cycle is irregular or consistently early.
Does early ovulation mean infertility?
Not necessarily. It is still possible to get pregnant even if ovulation occurs early (see this study where a successful pregnancy occurred even though ovulation happened on day 8 of the cycle).
However, it’s still important to be aware of the fact that early ovulation may be a sign of underlying fertility problems, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis.