Ten ways to tell you are ovulating
You can have as much sex as you like but unless you do it at the right time of the month it won’t increase your chances of conceiving. Fact is, you need to time it just right to ensure that sperm meets egg, and fertilisation occurs.
There are ovulation predictor kits on the market but these tests can be expensive, so it’s also worth familiarising yourself with your body’s own natural signs of ovulation. While none of them can be 100 percent accurate, they can signal that you’re about to ovulate (giving you plenty of time to plan that baby-making session!) while others indicate that you’ve already ovulated (so you can get some sleep in after all that action!).
Changes in cervical mucus
As you start to approach ovulation the amount and consistency of your cervical mucus changes. In the time when you’re not ovulating, it has a thicker consistency or there may not appear to be very much of it at all (ironically, this can often be the case if you’re taking a fertility drug and other medications, such as antihistamines, can have the same effect so bear this in mind if you take these meds for hay fever). As you reach the point where you’re about to ovulate, however, it becomes much more clear, watery and stretchy – almost like raw egg white in consistency – and there’s more of it. It’s much easier for sperm to swim through the cervical mucus when it reaches this consistency so take it as sign that your body is throwing down the welcome mat!
Most women experience an upsurge in their libido right around the time they ovulate: it’s mother nature’s way of ensuring you get that baby you long for! It’s been backed up by scientific research too: a study showing that women had more sex around the time when their levels of luteinizing hormone, which peak around the time of ovulation, were highest. It usually kicks in a couple of days before you’re due to ovulate, so if you really feel like it, follow your instincts and go for it!
Tracking and charting what’s called your body basal temperature (BBT) is another natural way of predicting when you’re likely to ovulate. Your BBT is your body’s temperature when it’s at rest, and it tends to rise slightly (by around 0.2 °C) just before you ovulate, and stays slightly raised just afterwards. It’s the hormone progesterone that causes this rise – its levels increase just after ovulation. It can take a while to get the hang of this method and you’ll have to take your temperature every day (first thing in the morning for accuracy, so have your thermometer on the nightstand to us even before you get out of bed, as moving around will raise your temperature), but charting when your temperature rises will help you pinpoint when in the month you tend to ovulate. The key is to have plenty of sex in the couple of days leading up to that time, since that rise in temperature indicate you’ve already ovulated.
Changed cervical position
The position of your cervix (the neck of the uterus) change slightly as ovulation nears, to ensure it’s softer and more open when you’re fertile – thereby making it easier for sperm to swim up through the cervix to meet the egg. To check its position, slide a clean finger into your vagina at an upwards angle. If ovulation isn’t near, you should be able to feel your cervix (it feels like the tip of your nose) but if you are about to ovulate It’ll be higher and more difficult to reach.
Your body treats every ovulation as a practice run for pregnancy, so pregnancy hormones build up on the off-chance. Just as they cause tender breasts when you have hit the jackpot, they can cause tender breasts in the run up to ovulation.
Counting days in your menstrual cycle is the easiest way to track ovulation. If you have a regular menstrual cycle (for example, 30 days), the first day of your period will be around days 12-14 of your cycle. If you start using this method, it can help you pinpoint the week when you’re most likely to ovulate over the next few months and you can plan to have sex at least every other day during that week. If your cycle is slightly shorter than 30 days (say 28 or 29) but still regular you can still use this method – just subtract 12 and 14 from the number of days in your cycle to find out the window when you’re likely to ovulate. However, if you have irregular cycles or even miss periods from time to time this method probably won’t work for you.
Pain and spotting
Around 20 percent of women experience a phenomenon called ‘mittelschmerz’, where the action of the egg bursting from its follicle on the ovary causes cramps on one side of the lower abdomen. You may also experience slight spotting that causes a pinkish tinge to your cervical mucus. (a faint appearance of blood that may show up, for example, in cervical fluids).
If you find the zipper on your jeans that bit harder to do up but you know you’re definitely not pregnant it could be a sign of ovulation, as the hormones released around the time you ovulate tend to cause water retention.
Heightened senses and increased energy
Many women report keener senses of vision, smell and taste around the time they ovulate. You also may have mood swings and feel a burst of increased energy prior to ovulation.
Positive result on an ovulation predictor test
Ovulation predictor kits work in a similar way to home pregnancy tests – you pee on a stick and it registers the presence of luteinizing hormone, which surges just before you’re about to ovulate. The tests are expensive and if you ovulate irregularly you may go through more than one monthly kit at a time, but can be useful if you’re not getting the hang of other natural methods of detecting ovulation.
The information in this feature is intended for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your health, the health of your child or the health of someone you know, please consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional.