How can I find out if and when I am ovulating?

Problems with ovulation are among the most important reasons why couples cannot get pregnant.  Knowing exactly if and when you ovulate is among the most important pieces of information you need when trying top find out if you are fertile and whether there may be ovulation problems. 

At home ovulation detection

  1. Temperature Charting (Over 95% reliable)
  2. Ovulation and Fertility Charting and Calculator (Not 100%)
  3. Cervical Mucus Changes (Not 100% reliable)
  4. Ovulation Pain: Mittelschmerz (Not 100% reliable)
  5. OPK Ovulation Predictor Kit (not 100% reliable)

Combining two or more of these improves the reliability of ovulation detection.

Ovulation detection in doctor's office

  1. Blood Progesterone Test (100% diagnostic if elevated)
  2. 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 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 occurs 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 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.

However, finding fertile stretchy cervical mucus in and by itself does not necessarily mean that you ovulated. Mucus is made stretchy 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 stretchy 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 test for a woman's level of luteinizing hormone (LH) which rises to a 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.