If you’re trying to conceive, tracking your menstrual cycle and ovulation is a great way to increase your chances of getting pregnant. There are a number of signs that indicate when you’re ovulating, and getting to know your body and cycle will help you detect them. Ovulation is the phase during your menstrual cycle when a mature egg is released from your ovaries. If you time things right, you can increase the chance of your egg meeting sperm to result in pregnancy. In this post, we cover the process of ovulation, what ovulation signs to look out for, and ovulation tracking tips that can help you conceive.
Ovulation 101: The Basics
Ovulation occurs each cycle when an egg is released from the ovaries. Usually your body releases one egg at a time, once per month. During this process, the egg travels down the fallopian tube and makes its way toward the uterus, where it may meet with sperm to be fertilized. Those who ovulate are considered at “peak” fertility in the days leading up to ovulation and on the day of ovulation.
Ovulation typically occurs midway through each cycle. Every cycle is unique, and although an average cycle length is 28 days, a “normal” cycle can last anywhere from 23 to 35 days. This means it’s considered normal to ovulate anytime between days 6 and 21 of your cycle. The first day of your period is considered the first day of your cycle, with the last day of your cycle being the day before your period starts again. The cycle is then broken up into the follicular phase and the luteal phase.
At the beginning of the follicular phase, the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) rises. This helps initiate the production of estrogen, which supports the development of the follicle and egg, while thickening the uterine lining. Next, luteinizing hormone surges and triggers the body to ovulate. During this time, the egg can be fertilized by a sperm and result in pregnancy. If the egg isn’t fertilized, the uterine lining will shed together with the unfertilized egg during menstruation. The luteal phase is the time period after ovulation, before your period.
What is Ovulation Tracking?
Ovulation tracking is a method of natural family planning, a way for you to track and predict ovulation when you’re trying to conceive. Monitoring when you ovulate helps you target the most fertile window in your cycle. There are several signs that indicate ovulation, and knowing what to look for can help you maximize your chances of pregnancy.
The most common ovulation signs are:
- Changes in cervical mucus (discharge that resembles raw egg whites)
- Changes in basal body temperature (slightly elevated body temperature)
- Increased libido
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Breast tenderness
- Changes in appetite or mood
The day of ovulation is when you’re considered at peak fertility, so this is the most ideal day to have sex with your partner if you’re trying to conceive. Since it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact day of ovulation, it’s recommended to have sex daily around the time you anticipate ovulation will occur. Your fertile window is five days before ovulation through to one day after. While it’s possible to get pregnant without tracking ovulation, your chances will be higher if you monitor your ovulation symptoms and figure out your fertile window.
5 Ovulation Tracking Tips
1. Get Familiar with Your Cycle
Knowing your cycle is essential if you want to increase your chance of pregnancy. Pay attention to the length of your cycles. Since ovulation typically occurs around the middle of the cycle, understanding your cycle length will help you predict when ovulation is likely to happen. It will also get you familiar with your fertile window, when your chances are highest that sexual intercourse will lead to pregnancy.
2. Check Your Cervical Mucus
Changes in cervical mucus can signal ovulation. The discharge you experience changes with the different phases of your cycle each month. As ovulation approaches, cervical mucus becomes clear, gooey, and stretchy (resembling raw egg whites). When you notice this happening, it’s a sign your body is entering the window of fertility.
3. Track Your Basal Body Temperature
Basal body temperature is your body’s temperature at rest. It tends to rise slightly during ovulation. Use a basal thermometer to track your temperature every morning before getting out of bed. A consistent rise in temperature may indicate that ovulation has occurred.
4. Use an Ovulation Tracker App
Ovulation tracker apps like Clue, Mira, and Flo, help you keep track of key milestones and characteristics of your menstrual cycle. You can record things like the dates of your period, basal body temperature, cervical mucus characteristics, mood, and sleep. This information is used to estimate your fertile window and the day of ovulation. As the app collects more data related to your individual cycle, it becomes more accurate.
5. Ovulation Test Strips
Ovulation test strips/ovulation predictor kits (OPK) are test strips that you dip in pee to check for ovulation. As mentioned above, just before your body releases an egg there is a surge of luteinizing hormone in your body. These test strips indicate when the LH surge occurs. In most women, the LH surge happens 24-48 hours before you ovulate. Essentially, when you get a positive OPK, you should be actively trying to get pregnant for the next few days.
If you’re trying to conceive, use these ovulation tracking tips to figure out your fertile window and increase your chance of pregnancy.
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