When it comes to fertility, one of the most important stages of a woman’s cycle is the ovulation phase. Ovulation is when the mature egg is released from the ovary. Ovulation generally takes place approximately mid-cycle, but the days can vary. If a woman experiences irregular cycles, she will ovulate irregularly (ogliovulation). Some women may have irregular cycles and experience anovulation.
The Importance of Ovulation
The mature egg must be released from the ovary in order for pregnancy to occur. The window of ovulation is a small 12-24 hours, so knowing when your body ovulates can increase your chances of getting pregnant. More importantly, learning your body’s ovulation cycle, or lack thereof, can be an early indicator of the need for medical assistance.
Am I Ovulating?
If your periods are regular, it’s likely that you are ovulating. However, there are exceptions and although you wouldn’t have a real period without ovulation, the endometrium can still shed, leaving you to believe (understandably) that you’ve had a period.
There are many ways to detect ovulation, but few are a guarantee. If you’re having trouble pinpointing your ovulation, or suspect you may not be ovulating regularly, it is important to seek advice from a medical professional.
If your cycles are regular, there are a few ways you can try to identify your ovulation at home.
BBT is an acronym for Basal Body Temperature, which is the temperature of your body upon waking. Your BBT can rise slightly after ovulation. This method can help you learn when or if you are ovulating. Charting your BBT does not tell you when you are ovulating while it’s happening – it can only confirm it after it’s happened. Therefore, if you want to use the charting method, you need to commit to it for a few months. You’re looking for a pattern, to predict when your future ovulations will occur. While this can help give you insight into your ovulation patterns, there is a great deal of room for error. If you are sick, stressed, taking your temperature at different times of the day, or have disrupted sleep, you can get an inaccurate reading. Should you decide to keep track of your BBT, here are some tips to help you get the most accurate results:
- Take your temperature immediately upon waking. This means before you do anything. Even before you sit up! Since the temperature elevation is so small, even the smallest of actions can interfere.
- Use basal body temperature digital thermometer for accurate results.
- Stay on a schedule and wake up at the same time each day.
Urine Test Kits
LH (Luteininzing Hormone) is released from the body shortly before ovulation and that is what ovulation tests are detecting. Getting a positive result means you’ve had an LH surge, and ovulation will take place 12-36 hours later. It is recommended you begin testing on day 11 of your cycle and continue until you ovulate, or until day 20 (whichever comes first). The kits are similar to pregnancy tests, where you use a urine sample. The manual tests require you to compare a line to a control line and can be hard to read, leaving you more confused. Digital test kits are pricier but will give you a straightforward result. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as each brand and type of kit can vary. It’s important to note that these tests are not foolproof. It is possible to get a false positive. Additionally, if you have absent or irregular cycles, these tests will not be helpful and may prove to be nothing more than frustrating.
Pay Attention to Your Body
While none of these symptoms are a guarantee of ovulation, there are signs your body can give you. Keeping track of these can help you detect ovulation. You may experience some, all, or none. Here are a few things to look for:
- Ovulation pain: A sharp pain in your abdomen, approximately mid-cycle
- Increased sex drive
- Raw egg-like cervical mucus: Log the appearance of your cervical mucus throughout your cycle. When it becomes thicker and stickier, like a raw egg, you could be ovulating.
- Breast tenderness: This is usually noticed after ovulation
I Think I’m Ovulating! What now?
If any of the above methods have helped you detect your ovulation, you want to have sex regularly 5 days before and the day of ovulation.
When to See a Doctor
If your periods are irregular, abnormally long, or abnormally short, the above methods may be of little-to-no help. If any of the following apply to you, it is time to see your doctor:
- You are under 35 and you and your partner have had unprotected sex for 1 year
- You are over 35 and you and your partner have had unprotected sex for 6 months
- You have irregular cycles
- You are 40 or older