09 Mar How Do I Know When I’m Ovulating?
Knowing when you’re ovulating is essential because it takes an egg to grow a baby. Plus, the female egg has a shorter lifespan than healthy sperm. So, while sperm can enjoy swimming around in the cervical and fallopian tubes for days (three to five days in many cases) waiting for the egg, the female egg is only viable for 12 to 24 hours.
Knowing when you’re going to ovulate is essential. If you’re trying to conceive at home, you’ll time intercourse accordingly, having sex every other day for the several days leading up to ovulation. The idea being that the more sperm that are waiting, the better chance your egg will have of meeting one.
Read Timing Sex For Pregnancy for more information about optimizing fertility at home.
Four Ways to Determine When (or if) You’re Ovulating
Here are four of the most common ways women can determine when they’re ovulating:
1. Use an app
Fertility apps are pretty amazing (Click Here for a list of the most popular period/ovulation prediction apps). Originally designed to help women prepare for when they’d start their periods, experts quickly realized that dialing in on an individual woman’s menstrual cycle also meant establishing her most likely fertility window.
It requires a few months of consistent usage to increase the fertility app’s accuracy. However, after around three to five months, the app will have a sense of your rhythm and will notify you about ovulation (and lots of other facts and tips for conceiving). It will also help you to establish irregularities in your cycle, which are informative if there’s a chance you’re dealing with potential infertility issues. You can also manually chart your cycle, which was the original “fertility app.”
2. Pay attention to your body
Your body gives you all kinds of clues if you’re paying attention. Cervical mucus is one of them. The mucous (often referred to as discharge) the vagina produces changes according to your hormonal cycles, and it’s a sign of what’s going on in your cervical and reproductive world. When you’re close to ovulation and ovulating, the mucus is particularly thick, with a clear/whitish/slightly milky appearance, with the consistency of an egg white.
It may show up on your underwear via little balls or even a string, and it’s quite elastic. If you pick it up between your thumb and forefinger, it will string elastically between them. This mucous is designed to form a swimming web of sorts, escorting sperm to their ultimate destination.
Additional, physical signs you’re ovulating include:
- Tender breasts that take place separate from your period
- A heightened sense of smell
- Mild pelvic or abdominal pain usually on one side or the other, depending on which side the egg is coming from that month (it can feel like minor menstrual cramps but outside of the normal period window)
- Light spotting (or slightly brownish discharge)
- Increase in libido
- The cervix is softer than normal – more like the feel of your lips (ovulating), as opposed to the end of your nose (the rest of the month)
Many of these are more subtle than they seem in print, so it requires careful attention to your body and its sensations.
3. Over-the-Counter Tools
There are a couple of different OTC tools, available from your pharmacy or online, that also help with predicting ovulation:
- Ovulation predictor kit (OPK). This one is the most reliable and is similar to a pregnancy test. Once you’ve charted or “apped” your menstrual cycle, and have a good idea of when you’ll ovulate, you use the OPK to determine if you’re ovulating. It’s a urine test, just like an at-home pregnancy test, and the tests are pretty accurate. However, if you wait until you’re ovulating to have sex, you’ve likely missed the boat. Instead, most fertility specialists recommend using OPKs to confirm your predicted ovulation cycle, so you can schedule sex ahead of time in the ensuing months.
- Basal thermometer. A woman’s temperature spikes just a bit when s/he ovulates, and this is evident by charting your waking temperature via a special basal thermometer. You much use it daily, and you need to take the temperature before you even put a foot out of bed in the morning or readings can be inaccurate.
4. Professional assistance
If you’ve done all-of-the-above and ovulation still seems like a mystery, you may need help from your gyn or a fertility specialist. Read our post When to See a Fertility Specialist and see if it’s time to reach out for more expert assistance.
If so, contact the team here at the Fertility Center of Dallas, where we can help you establish whether or not you’re ovulating, and the best means of conception based on the results.