Do you always ovulate before menstruation?

Nope. If your period is really regular and predictable, you are almost always ovulating about 14 days before your period starts. Sometimes though, even if you are dead-on regular, having a period every 26 or 28 or even 35 days, you can have a cycle or two where your ovary doesn't quite get the job done and no egg pops out. When you don't ovulate, you will usually still have a period. But, if you're typically plagued by cramps, you won't have them nearly as badly the months you don't ovulate. Some women actually feel it when they ovulate and have a sharp pain on the lower left or right side (depending on which side is ovulating) and some women even have a little spotting. Don't assume that just because you normally feel ovulation, but didn't one time that you haven't ovulated! Assume that every single month you ovulate and use protection if you are sexually active. I have never had regular periods and women like me have lots of cycles where we don't ovulate, but we can't count on it either!
No, you don't always ovulate before menstruation. You can think of ovulation and menstruation as the melody and harmony of a song. While they're really supposed to work together, they aren't necessarily dependent on the other. Hormones are tricky things, and they control both ovulation and menstruation. If, for one reason or another, your body fails to ovulate, high estrogen levels will likely still trigger your body to slough off the uterine lining (a.k.a. your period). As far as I'm concerned, if it looks like a period, acts like a period, and makes me bleed like a period ... then it's a period.
Nope, not necessarily. I'm on the birth control pill, so even though I have a monthly period, the pill stops my body from ovulating. Ovulation is a normal part of your monthly cycle, but it doesn't have to happen for you to get your period. Dr. Molly, one of our health expert panelists, can give you more info about why this is the case.
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