Late Ovulation: Can You Still Get Pregnant?

Late Ovulation: Can You Still Get Pregnant?

If you ovulate late will this have a negative impact on your fertility or chances of getting pregnant? The short answer is NO. If there is an egg being ovulated then it's possible for it to be fertilized. 

When do women ovulate?

Day 1 of your menstrual cycle is day 1 of your period and it extends until you start your very next period. So this is an entire cycle. The average cycle is about 28 days in length but normally it can be anywhere from 21 to 35 days in length for a normal reoccurring regular cycle.

If you have a 28-day cycle then you could say that on average your ovulation would happen on day 14, so somewhere in the middle of your cycle. But if you have a longer or shorter cycle, the way that you calculate is to know that you will ovulate 10 to 16 days before your next period.

That means if you have a shorter cycle, then ovulation is going to happen much earlier. If you have a later cycle, then ovulation is going to happen much later than right in the middle of your cycle. That's the important thing to keep in mind.

When it comes to the cycle length, if you have a regular cycle with a regular length, then ovulation should be occurring about 10 to 16 days before your next period.

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What is a late ovulation?

With that said, late ovulation is considered to happen after day 21 of your cycle. So if you're ovulating later than day 21 of your cycle, then this is what would technically be considered late ovulation.

Some women tend to ovulate late all of the time, especially if you have a longer cycle then it would be obviously quite common for you to ovulate later on in your cycle. But sometimes for some women, a late ovulation just happens randomly one cycle. They'll just randomly ovulate much later than they ever did before.

There are different factors that can contribute to both of those situations. To discuss this deeper, I'm going to discuss the phases of your cycle. But not all the phases. We're mainly going to talk about the follicular phase.

Let's break down the cycle into two phases, even though there are more phases:

  • the follicular phase, which happens at the first half of your cycle
  • the luteal phase, which happens in the last half of your cycle

Right in between those two phases is when you ovulate. Ovulation happens right in the middle of a 28-day cycle, so approximately day 14. 

But that's obviously not the case for everybody. It's actually not the case for most people because we are all extremely different.

The follicular phase begins on day 1 of your cycle and it ends when you ovulate. The luteal phase begins after you ovulate and ends when you get your next period.

The big factor when it comes to ovulating late or ovulating early is more about your follicular phase.

Either you have a regular follicular phase, a shortened follicular phase or a very long follicular phase.

The luteal phase could be affected by things like menopause, breastfeeding, strict calorie restriction and excessive exercising. Those are some things that could possibly affect your luteal phase, but generally speaking your luteal phase is always going to stay the same.

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What could be causing this extra long follicular phase which is making you ovulate later?

Unlike the luteal phase, the follicular phase is more easily affected by things in your lifestyle or hormonal changes. It can affect your follicular phase, making it longer.

Here are six reasons causing an extended follicular phase while you might be ovulating later.

1. Stress

If you have a short burst of stress, it could be affecting a random cycle here and there. When you're really stressed out, it can be causing your follicular phase to be longer. But also if you are continually, chronically stressed out, this can be affecting you every single cycle making your ovulation late every single cycle. Stress is all about hormones and reproduction is all about hormones. So when you have these two things competing, your stress is always going to win.

During times of stress your body is going to increase certain chemicals. Two of them being adrenaline and cortisol. So your body prioritizes your stress hormones above your reproductive hormones because dealing with a stress is much more important than dealing with reproduction. When your body is just looking at stress, it's considering that something that is life-threatening. So even if it's not life-threatening, even if you know your stress is just you constantly worrying about your job or worrying about your relationship, your body just takes it as life-threatening.

Being chronically stressed out, being chronically worried, is really going to affect your hormone levels and this is one of the things that can extend your follicular phase and make ovulation happen later or possibly not at all. Or possibly just make it so random that it's hard to calculate when exactly you are going to ovulate.

2. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is something that has an effect on your hormones as well, because your body requires this sort of symphony of hormones in order to mature a follicle, in order to release an egg, in order to build your uterine lining. All of these things require this intricate network of hormones that need to be happening. So if you have something that's destructive, disrupting your hormones like PCOS, then this might affect your ability to release a mature egg or to develop a follicle or to build that uterine lining.

Some women with PCOS ovulate infrequently and other women might just quit ovulating altogether. But just because you have PCOS doesn't mean that this is going to happen. There are a lot of women that do still ovulate regularly even though they have PCOS and they do get pregnant. So this is not really an infertility sentence but it is something to keep in mind.

late ovulation pcos

3. Hyperprolactinemia

Hyperprolactinemia is a condition in which a person has higher-than-normal levels of the hormone prolactin in the blood. If you are breastfeeding, then this means you're going to have high prolactin levels in your body. But there are other women who have high prolactin levels without breastfeeding. They just have high prolactin levels in their bodies so what this may do is affect your estrogen levels. It can create lower estrogen levels in your body.

4. Thyroid disorders

Thyroid disorders, either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism refer to overactive thyroid or an under-active thyroid. Both of these can disturb your menstrual cycle. It can either make your menstrual cycle later or stop you from ovulating altogether.

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5. Diet and exercise

If you are exercising a lot, like very strenuous exercise and follow a calorie restricting diet, this can cause late ovulation. Losing a lot of weight over a long period of time, so over a period of cycles, then during each of these cycles you are going to be ovulating later.

This can be affecting your ovulation and your reproductive system because this strenuous exercise and restricting calories is putting physical stress on your body. Just like emotional stress, physical stress can also have an effect on your hormones and fertility.

6. Medications

If you are on any medications and you find that since you've been on that certain medication you are ovulating either a lot earlier or a lot later, then this is something to discuss with your doctor. If this medication is possibly the cause for late ovulation, your physician will help you find an alternative treatment.

So those are some of the factors that could be contributing to a longer follicular phase and causing you to ovulate later than what might be considered normal.

Is ovulating late going to prevent you from getting pregnant?

If you are ovulating, there is no problem there you can conceive, as long as you're ovulating then you know the possibility of getting pregnant is there. Ovulation indicates that you are fertile, no matter when it happens throughout your cycle. You can get pregnant whether you ovulate on day 16 or day 18, so that is not a concern. But you might run into an issue when it comes to having to track your ovulation. So long or irregular cycles can make it difficult for you to pinpoint when you are actually ovulating which can make trying to conceive difficult. But this is not always an issue either.

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When it comes to statistics, if you are consistently having sex three times per week or more, then each cycle you have about a 15 to 25% chance of conceiving. But then the statistics also say that if you are tracking your ovulation and correctly predicting ovulation and then having sex based around that, then your chances of conceiving go up to about 40%. So you do have a greater chance of conceiving if you know when you ovulate and if you are planning sex based around your ovulation date, even if this is a late ovulation.

If you do not know when you ovulate, the best bet is to just have sex consistently! If you and your partner are up to it every single day and he has a good sperm count, go ahead! You at least want to be having sex like two or three times per week, spread out throughout the week. So not like Monday and Tuesday and then miss the entire rest of the week. You need to spread out evenly throughout the week and this will give you a better chance of conceiving, because you are your partner sperm is consistently being introduced into your body.

Whenever you do ovulate, hopefully there is a sperm right there waiting for that egg to be released so that it can fertilize the egg.

If you do have an irregular cycle, if you do have a longer follicular phase so you're ovulating later then knowing when to have sex is definitely going to help you out when you're trying to conceive.