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 Charting

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


When you are trying to conceive, those months of negative pregnancy test results can be painful as you count them off, waiting until your medical professional will refer you for additional testing.  The accepted definition of infertility is when couples do not achieve pregnancy on their own after one year of unprotected intercourse in women under 35 years of age, and after six months in women 35 or older. Other terms you may hear when referring to infertility may be “subfertility” or “fecundability.” Fecundability is perhaps more accurate because it refers to the probability of achieving pregnancy within a menstrual cycle. 


Infertility affects as many as 15% of couples within the United States every year. Of those couples, about ⅓  of cases are a result of a male factor, ⅓ of all cases are  a result of a female factor, and ⅓  from a combination male and female causes or unknown causes. [R]  The ability of a couple to become pregnant and sustain a pregnancy may be a result of biological, systemic, or environmental factors. 

Causes of Infertility



Some causes of infertility in the female partner are easily identified.  These may include physical causes such as tubal blockage, endometriosis scarring or inflammation that may affect implantation, or uterine abnormalities causing problems with achieving or maintaining pregnancy.


Other factors related to female infertility may be less immediately recognized and could include endocrine or systemic disorders including hormonal imbalances that affect ovulation (PCOS or hypothalamic disruption are two examples), premature ovarian failure, or excess prolactin. [R




Physical disorders such as testicular defects resulting from trauma, torsion, cancer, epididymitis, and hypogonadism are also reviewed. There may also be male reproductive tract disorders caused by infection or inflammation. 


Endocrine or systemic causes make up about 2 – 5% of male infertility cases. They refer to dysfunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, and like most hormonal pathways within the body, are sensitive to disruption and can be indicative of other disorders. [R]  


In approximately 2-5% of cases, no cause of male partner infertility can be identified, known as idiopathic infertility. 


You will find more detailed information about male infertility in my blog article Male Infertility.

What Happens When I See a Doctor for Infertility?


Many times the initial process or portions of an infertility consultation can be done by a general practitioner or an OB-GYN. They may begin a medical history, physical examination, or request lab work. For males, a semen test will also be conducted.


The medical professional will pay special attention to anything that might provide clues about infertility, such as sexual development during puberty, sexual history, any illnesses or infections, surgeries, medications, and exposure to environmental factors. Menstrual history, including absent or irregular periods, is especially helpful. [R


Bloodwork may reveal necessary information such as the presence of luteinizing hormone (LH) levels, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin (a pituitary hormone) will also be collected. Markers for hormones affecting female fertility, estradiol, anti-mullerian hormone (AMH), TSH (thyroid), and progesterone function are also collected. 


For men, the semen analysis will provide valuable information regarding the health of the sperm through examining the number, motility, and shape of the sperm.


Should any preliminary tests or examinations return abnormal results, the individual or couple may be referred to a specialist for additional testing and evaluation.  There is sometimes a need for additional testing, which will be determined by your provider.


Integrative Treatment Options for Infertility


Fortunately, there are treatment options to support couples in their journey through infertility. I have chosen a model based on an integrative approach that combines natural methods such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and healthy foods, along with assisted reproductive technology. I have found these basic practices towards reducing stress, hormone balancing, reducing exposure to toxins, and achieving optimal wellness to support fertility and pregnancy enhance the body’s fertility and pregnancy ability. 


A list of resources and their benefits is included here on our site. Additional articles are included in the blog to provide information on how each discipline can complement traditional medicine and your fertility journey. I also invite you to sign up for my resource eBook, Jumpstart Your Fertility, which provides simple practices you can begin with at home if you are experiencing infertility. 

If you’d like to schedule a consultation for fertility testing, contact Pacific Reproductive Center today.