Julie Medical Advisor
What does ovulation feel like?
Periods tend to get the most attention when it comes to understanding your menstrual cycle, but ovulation is an equally important event that can cause some subtle symptoms as well. Not everyone with a uterus will experience symptoms, but many do, and being aware of these natural cues from your body can be very helpful, especially if you are trying to conceive or want to avoid getting pregnant.
Read on to learn about the most common ovulation signs and symptoms, and what to look out for if you don’t want to get pregnant.
What is Ovulation?
First, let’s recap. Ovulation is a natural and essential part of the female reproductive cycle. It is the process by which a mature egg is released from one of the ovaries into a fallopian tube. This is where, if present, a sperm can fertilize an egg (one of the essential first steps in pregnancy).
For anyone trying to get pregnant or trying to avoid getting pregnant, the timing of ovulation is crucial since it’s around this time during the menstrual cycle that fertility is highest.
When Do You Ovulate?
Ovulation does not follow a calendar schedule but, like a period, does reliably happen around the same time in a cycle. It occurs mid-cycle, usually about 14 days before a period. For example, in a typical 28-day cycle, ovulation usually occurs around day 14 (the first day of your period is considered day one). However, menstrual cycles can vary significantly from person to person, ranging from 21 to 35 days or more. This means ovulation happens on different days for different people.
Why You're Most Fertile
Understanding why you’re the most fertile during your ovulation phase is essential for those planning to conceive or avoid pregnancy. During ovulation, the chances of becoming pregnant are at their highest because:
- Egg Availability: This is the only time a mature egg is released from the ovary to be fertilized by sperm. The egg is viable (able to be fertilized) for 12-24 hours.
- Cervical Mucus: The quality and quantity of cervical mucus change during ovulation creates a more hospitable environment for sperm to swim through.
- Hormonal Surge: A luteinizing hormone (LH) surge triggers the egg's release and prepares the body for possible conception.
Signs of Ovulation
Ovulation symptoms can be more subtle for some and more intense for others, but many people are able to notice some changes in their body that can help identify when they’re ovulating. The more you tune into these changes and try to be aware of them, the more likely you’ll be able to notice them. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of ovulation.
Cervical Mucus Changes
One of the most obvious signs of ovulation is a change in cervical mucus. In the days before and after ovulation, cervical mucus can be white or off-white, thin and watery or dry and tacky. However, as ovulation approaches, your body produces more estrogen. This causes cervical mucus to become clear, mucus-like, slippery, and stretchy, resembling egg whites. This fertile mucus facilitates the passage of sperm into the uterus and can show up in your underwear or when you wipe.
Mid-Cycle Cramps (Mittelschmerz)
Mild pelvic discomfort or cramps can occur during ovulation. Depending on which ovary releases the egg, the pain may occur on either your left or right side. This phenomenon is known as mittelschmerz (meaning "middle pain" in German). Fortunately, the discomfort usually lasts no longer than 24 hours.
Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Method
Another method to track ovulation is by monitoring your basal body temperature. Your BBT rises slightly (about half a degree) after ovulation due to increased progesterone levels. To find out when you ovulate, take your temperature with a digital thermometer around the same time every morning before getting out of bed. Track these temperatures over the course of a few cycles and see if you identify a pattern. Ovulation will happen right before a rise in BBT. You’re most fertile about 2-3 days before your temperature rises. While many use this method to track ovulation for pregnancy, it’s not foolproof. Temperature may rise sooner in some, and others may not have a temperature change at all. It’s takes time and consistent tracking to determine if your BBT is a reliable indicator of ovulatio.
Changes in Saliva
Though it's unlikely you'll notice a difference, a change in saliva can happen during ovulation. When observed under a microscope, the saliva exhibits fern-like patterns. This is associated with increased estrogen levels, typically seen about 24 hours before ovulation. However, smoking, drinking, and brushing your teeth can all affect the visibility of this change.
Some people report heightened senses, such as a heightened sense of smell or taste during ovulation. Hormonal changes during ovulation can cause this subtle symptom.
Breast Soreness or Tenderness
Breast soreness or tenderness is another symptom that some women experience during ovulation. Some even report sore nipples. Hormonal fluctuations, particularly increases in estrogen and progesterone, can cause this discomfort.
Ovulation can also impact your appetite. Some report changes in food cravings or appetite during this phase of their cycle, and can vary from increased hunger to a decrease in appetite.
Your libido, or sex drive, can fluctuate throughout your menstrual cycle and often peaks during ovulation. Many report feeling more sexually aroused and interested in intimacy during ovulation.
Mild bloating can also occur during ovulation, thanks to increased water retention in the body. This is typically a temporary symptom and usually subsides after ovulation.
What you should know about ovulation if you’re not trying to get pregnant
Ovulation is often the primary focus for those who want to become pregnant. The five days leading up to and the 24 hours after ovulation (known as the “fertile window”) are when you’re most fertile, but knowing when you’re ovulating can also be a powerful tool for avoiding pregnancy.
While the most reliable way to avoid pregnancy is a long-term birth control method (the pill, ring, patch, IUD, etc.), many individuals do not wish to use or are unable to use hormonal medications. In these cases, barrier methods (like condoms) and the pull-out method can be combined with ovulation tracking for a very effective form of birth control. A person that uses this method makes sure they are using a backup method during the fertile window (the five days leading up to and the 24 hours after ovulation) when engaging in penetrative vaginal sex.
Julie can help prevent pregnancy before ovulation.
If you have unprotected sex, forgot to take your birth control pill, the condom broke, or you aren’t sure where you are in your cycle, Julie is a great way to help prevent pregnancy. As an over-the-counter morning-after pill, Julie can help prevent pregnancy within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
Julie and other OTC morning-after pills help prevent pregnancy by delaying the release of the egg from the ovary. If the egg isn’t there, then it can’t be fertilized by the sperm.
However, Julie will not work if you’ve already ovulated. Find out more about Julie's effectiveness during ovulation.
Julie is FDA-approved and legal in all 50 states. Pick it up at Target, CVS, Walmart, or order it through GoPuff (and get it in 30 minutes). No ID, credit card, or insurance is required.
There are a few medications that may interact with the morning-after pill. The most common medications include:
-Some anti-HIV medications
-Some anti-seizure medications
-Rifampin (an antibiotic mainly used to treat tuberculosis)
-St. John’s wort
If you have concerns about a medicine you are taking potentially interacting with the morning-after pill, please consult with a pharmacist or medical provider.
No, studies have confirmed that taking two pills will not change the effectiveness of the morning-after pill, even for those with higher BMIs.
Essentially nothing. Julie is not an abortion pill and it will not harm or end an existing pregnancy. Julie helps prevent pregnancy by stopping or delaying ovulation, but if you’re pregnant, then there’s no ovulation to stop. The medication, levonorgestrel, won’t harm you or your fetus if you do end up taking Julie while pregnant. This makes Julie a great option for people who want to be safe after unprotected sex—if you aren’t pregnant yet, it may stop a pregnancy from occurring, and if you are already pregnant, it won’t impact the fetus.
No. The morning-after pill only stops ovulation short-term. When you take it after unprotected sex, it reduces your chance of getting pregnant now. When you start a new cycle next month, you’ll go through a brand new ovulation phase, which is a new opportunity to get pregnant. So if you’re planning on having babies in the future, rest assured your chances of getting pregnant won’t be affected by Julie.
After taking Julie you can continue on with your regular birth control method if you have one (for example, continue taking birth control pills).
You will know Julie has been effective when you get your next period, which should come at the expected time, or within a week of the expected time. If your period is delayed beyond 1 week, it is possible you may be pregnant. You should get a pregnancy test and follow up with your healthcare professional.
Julie is a backup or emergency method and should not be used as a regular birth control method. Consult with your doctor about a birth control method that makes sense for you.
Please know that taking a dose of Julie will only protect you from one instance of unprotected sex, it will not prevent pregnancy from unprotected sex over the coming days or weeks. If you have unprotected sex in the future and want to prevent pregnancy, be sure to take a new dose of Julie and talk to your doctor about the best birth control options for you.
Your menstrual bleeding patterns may change temporarily after using levonorgestrel. If you find that your period is more than a week late, take a pregnancy test to confirm whether the contraceptive has worked.
Technically, no. Julie can be used by anyone with a uterus regardless of weight. However, studies have shown that the effectiveness of the morning-after pill does decrease in people who have a body mass index (BMI) over 25. For those with a BMI under 25, pregnancy risk after taking the morning-after pill is less than 2%. For those with a BMI over 29.9, the risk of pregnancy increases to 5.8% - meaning that out of every 100 individuals with a BMI over 29.9 who take Julie, six may become pregnant.
Why? Unfortunately, we don’t really know. There is only preliminary research testing the efficacy of the morning-after pill on people with a BMI over 25 and 30. Read more here.
Julie is not an abortion pill and will not harm an existing pregnancy nor will it be effective if a woman is already pregnant.
Julie is a progestin‑only emergency contraception product that helps prevent pregnancy before it starts when taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex.
Julie is a backup method of preventing pregnancy and should not be used as regular birth control. Use as directed.
The medication in the morning-after pill, levonorgestrel, temporarily blocks or delays ovulation, which is when your ovary releases an egg. It essentially puts the emergency brakes on your ovaries so an egg can’t be released. If there’s no egg, then there’s nothing for sperm to fertilize, which means a pregnancy can’t develop.
Read more about how the morning-after pill works here.
The morning-after pill, like Julie, is 89% effective when taken within 72 hours (or 3 days) after unprotected sex. The golden rule is the sooner you take it, the better it will work.
One thing to note: Weight does impact the effectiveness of the morning-after pill. If your BMI is over 25, Julie may not be the best option for you, but there are other options if you have access to a medical provider. Ella® is another type of emergency contraception pill that works more effectively for women with a BMI under 30. Like Julie, it’s a one-time pill but it does require a prescription from your provider. Copper and hormonal IUDs are the most effective form of emergency contraceptive and are not affected by weight at all. However, they do need to be inserted by a healthcare professional up to 5 days after having unprotected sex.
Learn more about how weight impacts Julie here.
You do not need to see a doctor before or after taking Julie because the pill is available without a prescription. However, there are a few reasons you might want to speak with a doctor after unprotected sex. The first reason is that unprotected sex carries the risk of catching sexually-transmitted infections. The second reason is that the morning-after pill is not as effective as regular birth control. A doctor will be able to counsel you on better options if you plan to remain sexually active.
Since emergency contraception can affect the length of your menstrual cycle, your period might come about a week later or earlier than usual after taking Julie. If your period is more than one week late, consider the possibility of pregnancy.
No, the morning-after pill (including Julie) and the abortion pill are two very different medications. The morning-after pill prevents a pregnancy from starting by stopping an egg from being released. If there’s no egg, there’s no chance of pregnancy. Plus, it’s FDA-approved and legal in all 50 states.
On the other hand, the abortion pill ends an existing pregnancy, which is something that the morning-after pill cannot do. If you’re already pregnant, the morning-after pill and the medicine within it, levonorgestrel, cannot end the pregnancy or impact it in any way.
See more common morning-after pill myths here.
No. No one needs a prescription to purchase Julie or EC. However, some insurances require a prescription for reimbursement. Some pharmacies and places where EC is sold may tell you that you need a prescription. You do not.
The morning-after pill—like Julie— is one of the most common and convenient forms of emergency contraception. It’s an over-the-counter pill found at retail chains like Target, CVS, and Walmart nationwide. The morning-after pill is made of the hormone levonorgestrel, the same hormone found in many birth control pills and is FDA-approved and legal in all 50 states. When used correctly, it can significantly reduce your chance of getting pregnant. It doesn’t require a prescription, ID, or credit card, and can be purchased easily by anyone (you, your partner, your friend, or the nice guy from GoPuff). Learn more about the morning-after pill here.
The morning-after pill is a backup method of preventing pregnancy and should not be used as regular birth control.
You should take Julie if you had unprotected penis-to-vagina sex and:
- You didn’t use any form of birth control
- Your birth control method failed—e.g. the condom broke or slipped off
- You missed 2 or more doses of your regular birth control pill
- You’re not sure if he pulled out in time
Remember to take Julie ASAP to have the best chance of it working. It’s 89% effective when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, but can be effective up to 120 hours after. Learn more about Julie here.
No. No one needs a prescription to purchase Julie or other brands of the morning-after pill. However, some insurance companies require a prescription for reimbursement. Some pharmacies and other places where emergency contraceptives are sold may tell you that you need a prescription. You do not.
Take the Julie tablet orally (swallowed). It is preferable to take it with water, and you can take it with or without food. Do not insert Julie vaginally.
No. We know this is a common misconception so let’s break it down. Using Julie (no matter how many times you take it) does not affect your fertility — and it will not prevent you from becoming pregnant in the future. You should feel free to use Julie whenever you think it’s necessary. Julie (and all EC) is not recommended as an ongoing form of birth control because it’s not as effective at preventing pregnancy as birth control methods like the IUD, patch, pill, ring, or shot. Also, frequent use of EC may cause periods to become irregular and unpredictable. That’s it!
You can get Julie at your local CVS, Target, Walmart or on our website.
No, that’s not recommended. Emergency contraceptives, like Julie, work when you take them after sex. That’s because emergency contraception prevents pregnancy by delaying when you ovulate, which is when an egg is released from the ovary. Sperm can live inside you for up to 5 days, so if you take Julie and then have unprotected sex, the medication might not be able to delay ovulation for the entire length of the sperm’s life, creating a potential for pregnancy.
Learn more about how Julie works here.
Yes. You are not alone. Often times, people who buy EC are feeling stressed out, concerned, embarrassed, confused or ashamed. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone, you have nothing to be ashamed about, and the Julie community is here to support you. By taking Julie after unprotected sex, you are taking control of your future and taking a safe, effective, approved method of preventing pregnancy.
Julie and other over-the-counter morning-after pills contain a high amount of levonorgestrel, a synthetic hormone that’s also in some birth control pills. The extra amount of this hormone can affect your menstrual cycle and cause some side effects. Most side effects come and go within hours of taking the pill, but some can last up to a couple of days. Learn more about Julie's side effects here.
- Bleeding/spotting between periods
- Temporary changes to a period cycle (the next period comes early or late)
- Heavier or lighter next period
- Abdominal pain
- Breast tenderness
For more information about Julie side effects and how long they last, read this.
Side effects like nausea, abdominal pain, and fatigue can start within a few hours of taking the morning-after pill. If you vomit within two hours of taking the pill, it’s important to talk to a healthcare professional to find out if you should take another dose.
Most side effects are easily manageable, but sometimes they can be annoying. If that headache just won’t go away or your breasts are super tender, it’s safe to take ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or any over-the-counter pain reliever—they won’t interact or interfere with levonorgestrel.
Listen to your body. After all, you’ve just taken a pill that affects your hormones. Feeling a little weird is normal. Rest, keep yourself hydrated, and give yourself some extra compassion.
No. Julie is not what is commonly called “the abortion pill” or “medication abortion”. The active ingredient in the abortion pill is mifepristone. Pregnancy needs a hormone called progesterone to grow normally. Mifepristone blocks your body’s own progesterone, stopping the pregnancy from growing. Julie does not and will not impact an existing pregnancy, and works by delaying ovulation before there is a pregnancy.
The FDA recently made an update in December 2022 to remove any language suggesting that Julie may prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. We are currently working on removing this outdated disclaimer but you may still see it present on some of our packaging in the meantime. Please disregard these statements because they are out of date. Julie will not impact an existing pregnancy.
Your cycle might be temporarily affected after taking Julie. That’s because there’s a higher dose of levonorgestrel compared to what’s found in daily birth control pills. It’s likely to impact your body’s natural hormone levels for a short period of time. This might result in an earlier or later period.
If your period is delayed beyond one week, it is possible you may be pregnant. You should get a pregnancy test and follow up with your healthcare professional if positive. Your period might also be lighter or heavier than usual, or you might experience spotting in between cycles. If your schedule is impacted beyond a month or two, it’s worth checking in with your medical provider. Read more about how Julie might affect your period here.
No! The most common side effects are changes in your period, nausea, lower stomach pain, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and breast tenderness. These symptoms typically go away within a few hours and shouldn’t last more than a couple of days. If you have any side effects that bother you, call your healthcare professional. Read more about Julie's side effects here.
Yes. You are not alone. Oftentimes, people who buy EC are feeling stressed out, concerned, embarrassed, confused or ashamed. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone, you have nothing to be ashamed about, and the Julie community is here to support you. By taking Julie after unprotected sex, you are taking control of your future and taking a safe, effective, approved method of preventing pregnancy. If you want to share your experience and talk with others in our community, head to our Tik Tok, Instagram, and Quora space, After Sex, where all sex questions and commentary are welcome.
It depends. Some people get their period a few days earlier or later than they were expecting, while some have reported a delay in menstruation beyond a week. Stress can also delay your period, which can be heightened when taking emergency contraception. If your period is more than one week late, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re pregnant, but it is recommended to take a pregnancy test.
Waiting for your period to arrive can be stressful, especially after taking emergency contraception, but just know that it might be totally normal. A delayed or early period is actually one of the most common side effects of taking the morning-after pill. Levonorgestrel, the hormone in Julie, delays ovulation, which can move the timing of your cycle back a few days. Your period might also be lighter or heavier than usual, or you might experience spotting in between cycles. If your period is delayed beyond one week, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re pregnant, but it is recommended to take a pregnancy test. You can read more about how Julie might affect your period here.
The best thing to do after taking Julie is to rest and hydrate. If you’re feeling any side effects, you can take over-the-counter painkillers to make yourself feel more comfortable. A heating pad or hot water bottle can also help if you’re having stomach pain or cramping. If you can, a day on the couch with Netflix or a good book often does the trick. Read more about managing Julie side effects here.
Typically just for one menstrual cycle. Most people notice that their period starts either a few days early or a few days late, though some people have reported a two-week delay in menstruation. If you are not pregnant, your cycle should return to normal the next time you get your period. If changes last beyond a month or two, it’s best to check in with a doctor.
Read more about changes to your period after taking Julie here.