How Late Ovulation Can Impact Your Pregnancy (TTC Guide)
We know that everything comes in its time, but late ovulation can be frustrating – especially if you and your partner are trying to conceive. In this post, we’ll take a look at the primary causes of late ovulation and what they can mean for your quest for pregnancy. We’ll also cover some of the treatment options available when it comes to treating late ovulation.
Can you ovulate late and still get pregnant?
Yes. It is absolutely still possible to get pregnant even if you ovulate late (i.e. anytime after day 21 of your cycle). However, late ovulation can have a negative impact on the quality of your eggs and your ability to conceive.
Understanding late ovulation
What is late ovulation?
Ovulation is considered “late” when it occurs after day 21. To understand what late ovulation means for your fertility, let’s refresh our knowledge of the menstrual cycle.
Your cycle starts with the first day of menstruation and the first part of the cycle is the follicular phase (the time between the first day of menstruation and ovulation). It is the time when follicles holding eggs grow in your ovaries until a dominant one stands out
Then follows ovulation, usually occurring within a window of 10-12 hours after a peak in luteinizing hormone (LH). During ovulation, the dominant follicle breaks and releases an egg, which exits the ovary and travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus.
During the luteal phase, the follicle closes off and turns into the corpus luteum. This mass of cells grows and produces progesterone, the hormone that makes your uterus ripe and ready for pregnancy, while the egg is on its way to meet the sperm.
If there is no fertilized egg or implantation, there’s no pregnancy. In this case, the uterine lining sheds and menstruation begins. The luteal phase is the time between your ovulation and your next menstrual period.
Remember: all women are unique, and so are their bodies and cycles. Normally, ovulation happens around the middle of your cycle. For women with a standard 28-day cycle, ovulation occurs around day 14.
However, there are many factors that can delay your ovulation. Most of the time, ovulation happening after day 14 is perfectly normal — even if it wasn’t what you were taught in your high school biology class.
What causes late ovulation?
Late ovulation is usually caused by hormonal imbalances, which may be temporary or long-term, depending on the cause.
So, what are the most common reasons for these imbalances?
We’ve all heard that stress is bad for us. But did you know that stress can seriously affect our hormone levels? From the big emotional challenges in life, to the simple things like traveling or accepting a new project at work, any mental up-and-down can affect our bodies immensely. Try to keep this in mind — and go easy on yourself if stress impacts your ovulation while trying to conceive (TTC).
The thyroid is a gland in the front of your neck that produces hormones controlling your metabolism. Your thyroid is closely connected with the pituitary gland, which releases fertility hormones like luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
Because the pituitary gland is responsible for these hormones, which are vital to ovulation, having either an underactive (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism) thyroid can affect LH and FSH levels, resulting in a delayed release of an egg.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a condition caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. Women with PCOS produce too much testosterone, which can hinder normal ovulation. With PCOS, the egg may not develop as it should, or it may not be released during ovulation, resulting in an anovulatory cycle.
PCOS affects 1 out of every 10 women in the United States and irregular menstrual cycles are one of the main symptoms of PCOS. It is also a common reason for infertility. The good news is that infertility caused by PCOS can be treated with hormone therapy or by tracking your ovulation with a digital fertility tracker like Mira.
Prolactin is the primary hormone responsible for breast milk production. Prolactin prevents menstruation, so while you’re nursing, your periods may stop or become light and irregular. Sometimes, it may prevent or delay ovulation.
However, a lack of menstruation doesn’t always mean a lack of ovulation. Some women assume that they can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding, which is a top reason for surprise pregnancies among nursing mothers!
Any medications you take may potentially affect your ovulation. For example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen or aspirin can inhibit ovulation. You should always consult your doctor about the potential side effects of your medications if you are TTC.
If you’ve recently stopped taking hormonal birth control, the pill may be the reason for delayed ovulation. It can take up to three months for ovulation to resume after stopping oral contraceptives.
Illicit drug use and smoking are also extremely bad for healthy ovulation, and may prevent you from ovulating on time.
Luteal phase defect (LPD)
In rare cases, delayed ovulation may imply that you have a short luteal phase.
You can determine phase length by tracking your cycle. Just count the days between ovulation and the first day of your period. That is how long your luteal phase is.
According to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the University of North Carolina, the luteal phase lasts between 12 and 14 days for most women. Your luteal phase is short if it lasts less than 10 days.
A short luteal phase doesn’t give the uterine lining a chance to grow and develop enough to support a growing baby. As a result, it can be harder to get pregnant or it might take you longer to conceive. Thankfully, LPD is a condition that can be treated.
What can you do to treat late ovulation?
If you are trying to conceive, there are ways to treat late ovulation in order to increase your chances of getting pregnant. However, your individual approach to treatment will depend on the reasons behind why you are ovulating late.
Together with your doctor, it’s a good idea to first determine whether or not you have an underlying condition such as PCOS or a thyroid disorder. If not, your doctor may recommend making some immediate lifestyle changes to help regulate your cycle. This includes:
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Incorporating moderate exercise into your routine
- Refraining from smoking or consuming alcohol
- Keeping your stress levels low
If you are still struggling to become pregnant, there are also prescription medications available that can help to regulate your cycle.
Late ovulation and pregnancy
How does late ovulation affect fertility?
Late ovulation can have an impact on fertility in a few ways.
First of all, late ovulation may result in a lower quality egg being released – which can hinder the implantation process. Second of all, when ovulation is late, it can make it difficult to track your cycle and have sex with your partner during your most fertile days. Additionally, the overall stress of experiencing an irregular cycle can not only disrupt your hormones, but also negatively impact your emotional health and wellbeing.
All of these factors together can make it much more difficult to become pregnant.
How does late ovulation affect your cycle?
Late ovulation can make it more difficult to predict your cycle, including when you will ovulate and when your menstrual period will arrive. This can result in challenges when TTC, as well as getting caught off guard by the arrival of your period!
How does late ovulation affect conception?
Predicting your cycle when your ovulation is delayed or late is more difficult, but it is not impossible. Traditional OPKs do not offer the kind of personalized analysis needed to predict ovulation and menstruation in people with irregular cycles.
However, modern fertility tracking technology — like Mira — can measure the numeric levels of fertility hormones in your urine to give you the most accurate and sophisticated predictions available when it comes to your menstrual cycle.
How does late ovulation affect pregnancy?
If you have been trying to get pregnant for at least a year (or six months if you are age 35 or older), late ovulation may be the cause of your fertility woes.
While irregular ovulation makes it harder to predict your fertile window, it doesn’t mean you won’t get pregnant. It just may be more difficult to pinpoint the date of ovulation.
There are a few methods you can use to determine the time of ovulation:
- Ovulation predictor kits (OPK)
- Basal body temperature
- Cervical mucus observation
- Fertility calculator
The average ovulation kit doesn’t offer personalized data about your cycles. They simply use a threshold to detect LH to estimate if you’re ovulating around your time of ovulation.
To correctly track your cycle and luteal phase, you need individualized feedback. The Mira Fertility Tracker measures actual LH levels in mIU/mL. Other OPKs detect ovulation off a static baseline LH, which can cause many false positives.
With Mira, you can see your actual hormone levels and curve. You can monitor peaks, declines, and menstruation through the app to detect your luteal phase. Unlike other tracking solutions, Mira still allows you to identify your ovulation even if your baseline LH varies.
Tracking fertility hormones with the Mira Fertility Tracker allows you to see your changing hormone patterns and more accurately predict ovulation, which can help you conceive.
If you’re concerned about your fertility or ovulation, it’s always a good idea to see your OB/GYN for a medical evaluation.
Late ovulation FAQs
Does late ovulation mean late period?
Yes. Late ovulation (or lack of ovulation) can cause your period to be late. In some cases, late ovulation may also cause your period to be heavier than normal.
How late can you ovulate?
On average, ovulation occurs on day 14 of the menstrual cycle and is not considered “late” until after day 21. When ovulation does occur after day 21, it is most likely to occur in women with cycles lasting longer than 35 days.
If you have no additional health concerns or symptoms (such as abnormal bleeding, excruciating abdominal pain, or frequently missed periods), late ovulation is not necessarily something to worry about. For couples trying to conceive, doctors often recommend trying to get pregnant for at least one year (or six months if you are older than 35) before visiting a fertility specialist to manage health issues.
Are there any risks to ovulating late?
Late ovulation may impact your fertility, which can result in disappointing results if you are TTC. It may also be a sign of hormonal imbalance, which can signify a problem with your overall health. Usually, these problems are not serious, but it is important to understand the potential consequences and risks of late ovulation.
Can late ovulation influence miscarriages?
No evidence exists to support the idea that late ovulation can cause miscarriage. However, there is some evidence to suggest that late implantation, occuring more than 8 days after ovulation, may increase your odds of miscarriage.
In order for pregnancy to occur, an egg must be fertilized after ovulation. When sperm meets the egg in the uterus, fertilization happens, followed by implantation. During implantation, the fertilized egg implants itself into the lining of the uterus (the endometrium).
This process can take anywhere from 48 hours to 10 days. However, implantation occurring more than nine days after pregnancy may significantly increase your odds of miscarriage. Studies show that the chances of miscarriage steadily increase with every day after day nine. By day 12, the odds of miscarriage are as high as 82%.