People mean different things when they ask how long ovulation lasts. While the process of ovulation itself may not last very long, the egg lives on for some time after it is released from the ovary. More importantly, women who ask about how long ovulation lasts usually want to know because they’re trying to conceive. If that’s the case, the more important thing to be worried about is how long the fertile window lasts. Luckily, that’s a lot longer than ovulation itself.

Let’s explore the length of ovulation from each of these angles.

How long does the process of ovulation last?

Ovulation is when a mature egg is released from one of the ovaries. It’s then pushed down the fallopian tubes toward the uterus. If a sperm manages to fertilize the egg during its journey, it implants in the uterine lining and grows to become a fetus. If not, the egg disintegrates into the uterine lining and is shed during menstruation. The moment an egg is released from the ovaries is instantaneous.

How long does the egg live for?

As soon as the egg is released from the ovary, it has about 12 – 48 hours to live. If it is not fertilized by a sperm during this time, it dies and is eventually shed with the uterine lining.

How long is the fertile window?

If you’re trying to get pregnant, you might be worried that 48 hours is not a very big window for intercourse. But there are actually about six days each month when intercourse can result in a pregnancy. This is because sperm can survive inside your body for up to five days when fertile cervical mucus present.

So if you have sex a few days before ovulation, the sperm can wait patiently in your fallopian tubes for ovulation to occur. And if you have sex very soon after ovulation, the fastest sperm can reach the egg within a half hour—in time to catch the egg before it dies.

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