Ovulation is the key factor in fertility and knowing how to find out if and when you ovulate is essential to improving fertility.
Without ovulation you cannot get pregnant. And timing and frequency of sex in relation to ovulation is important, as you only have six fertile days each menstrual cycle, the day of ovulation and the 5-6 days before ovulation day.
The ovulation day determines when you are most fertile in your menstrual cycle. You may decide to pinpoint ovulation as a method of natural birth control or if you are trying to conceive. Some methods of finding out when you ovulate and when ovulation happens can be easily done at home, while others require more sophisticated testing.
There are several methods of finding out when and if you ovulate, some of them are more reliable than others.
Methods of finding out if and when you ovulate:
- Progesterone in the blood (Close to 100% but only retrospectively)
- Ultrasound, finding a growing follicle with the right size (80+% reliable)
- Basal Body Temperature Charting (Over 90% reliable, but only retrospectively)
- OPK Ovulation Predictor Kit (Less than 90+% predictable)
- Ovulation and Fertility Calculator (Not 100%)
- Cervical Mucus Changes (80+% reliable)
- Ovulation Pain: Mittelschmerz (Less than 50% reliable)
- Saliva Ferning Ovulation Test
Combining two or more of these improves the reliability of ovulation detection.
Ovulation Detection in Doctor's Office
- Blood Progesterone Test (100% diagnostic if elevated)
- Ultrasound Exams of Ovaries (100% diagnostic)
The only 100% correct diagnosis of ovulation can be made if you become pregnant, or if your ovulation shows on sonogram or you have an elevated progesterone level about a week after ovulation.
Basal Body Temperature BBT Charting
This involves keeping a record of where you are in your menstrual cycle and then recording your daily basal temperature (temperature in the morning before you get up).
The Basal Body Temperature chart is the best way to record and monitor body temperature that occur after ovulation. A BBT chart provides a good visual basis for determining ovulation. It cannot predict when ovulation will occur in a given cycle, but by looking at records from a few cycles you can notice a pattern from which ovulation can be estimated.
Cervical Mucus Changes Monitoring
The presence and tactile consistency of your cervical mucus undergoes a number of changes during your menstrual cycle. By observing changes in cervical fluid, you can predict ovulation which is your most fertile time for conceiving a baby.
One of the purposes of cervical mucus during ovulation is to sustain the sperm in a healthy medium and to allow it to move freely through the cervix. Logically there will be an increase in cervical mucus at ovulation, as well as a change in texture - the mucus becomes more clear, stretchable, and slippery.
Using clean fingers, or if you prefer toilet paper, you can examine your cervical fluid. Prior to ovulation, during non-fertile periods, you will experience a dryness (or lack of cervical mucus). Gradually, as you approach ovulation, the cervical mucus will increase, though the consistency will be "sticky" and the color will be white, yellow, or cloudy in nature.
Directly prior to ovulation cervical fluid will increase greatly and the mucus will be semi-transparent, slippery, with the consistency of "raw egg white." This is your most fertile period and ovulation will take place at about this time.
If you find that your cervical mucus is not reaching the "raw egg white" stage, you may want to try a lubricant like Pre-Seed. Pre-Seed is the only truly sperm friendly lubricant currently on the market, and many people have found success in getting pregnant while using it. If you have concerns about the quantity of quality of your cervical mucus, there is a natural supplement called FertileCM that can help with this issue. FertileCM helps to improve mucus quantity and quality while also strengthening the uterine lining for implantation of the embryo.
However, finding fertile strechy cervical mucus in and by itself does not necessaily mean that you ovulated. Mucus is made strechy by the estrogen hormone which normally rises before ovulation. However, there are many circumstances where estrogen can be elevated without ovulation, the most important one being women who have PCOS Polycystic Ovary syndrome. These women often don't ovulate but they can observe strechy egg-white cervical mucus (EWCM).
Mittelschmerz/Lower Abdominal Discomfort
About one-fifth of women actually feel ovulatory activity, which can range from mild aching to twinges of sharp pain. This ovulation symptom, called Mittelschmerz, may last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours and is usually noticed in the right side of the lower abdomen.
Ovulation Predictor Tests (OPK)
OPKs can also predict ovulation. An OPK tests for a woman's level of luteinizing hormone (LH) which rises to higher level just before ovulation. If you take an OPK every day starting 5-6 days before suspected ovulation than ovulation usually happens within 12-34 hours after the test first becomes positive.
Saliva Ovulation Tests
These tests work by detecting saliva ferning. An increase in the hormone oestrogen leading up to ovulation increases the salt content of saliva. This can be detected under microscope by the way saliva crystallizes when it dries. When the salt content is high, the saliva dries in a fern pattern. In the 3-4 days leading up to ovulation salivary ferning is visible and also for a couple of days after ovulation. When you are not in the fertile window the saliva dries in shapeless blobs.
This test involves an initial outlay to buy a mini-microscope to enable you to see these changes. Once you've got this vital bit of equipment, this method of ovulation testing is relatively inexpensive as the microscope can be used again and again. However, it isn't the best method of ovulation detection. A review of different home-use methods of predicting ovulation concluded that salivary ferning was not as accurate as LH ovulation predictor kits.