When you’re trying to get pregnant, timing is everything – especially when it comes to ovulation. Knowing when you’re due to ovulate will help you prepare and plan, which will increase your chances of achieving a successful pregnancy. We point out the various signals your body is giving you to help you determine when you’re ovulating.
The exact time when a woman ovulates depends on the length of her menstrual cycle. Women with a 28-day cycle generally ovulate between days 13 and 15.
What are the Signs of Ovulation?
Paying close attention to your body can provide helpful information regarding your ovulation. Here are some signs to pay attention to:
Examining your cervical mucus can give information regarding ovulation. Before ovulation, your cervical mucus may be dry or sticky. Closer to ovulation, it may take on a creamier consistency. Right before ovulation, your cervical mucus may take on a slippery consistency, similar to a raw egg white.
Your basal body temperature (BBT) can also tell you when ovulation is approaching. A special BBT thermometer can be used to measure your temperature to the tenth degree. An increase of about 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit higher than your normal temperature can indicate ovulation.
There are also secondary signs of ovulation, which may not be present in all women in a consistent manner. These include:
- Slight spotting
- Abdominal pain
- Breast tenderness
- Increased sex drive
How Do I Chart My Basal Body Temperature (BBT)?
Charting your BBT to detect ovulation is relatively easy.
With your special BBT thermometer, take your temperature at the same time each morning and plot the temperature on a chart.
You should take your temperature first thing in the morning after you wake up but before you get out of bed, move around, or begin speaking.
Also, try to wake up around the same time each morning, so your temperature readings can be as close in time as possible.
When you see a temperature increase of 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit, this can indicate ovulation.
The shift in temperature should be the highest of the temperatures over the last six days.
After you chart your BBT for a few months, you should be able to see a pattern. This will allow you to plan the best days to have intercourse in an effort to conceive.
What are Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs)?
Ovulation predictor kits are at-home tests you can use to determine whether you are ovulating. They work by checking your luteinizing hormone (LH), which should surge sharply 12 to 48 hours before ovulation.
Unlike testing for basal body temperature, OPKs let you know in advance when you will ovulate, allowing you to plan intercourse accordingly. However, if you who have irregular menstrual cycles, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or take certain fertility drugs you may experience misleading results.
The best time to have intercourse when using an OPK is the day of the LH surge and two days later. You may also want to consider having sex one day after that, as well.
What If I Still Don’t Get Pregnant?
If you’ve been charting your basal body temperature and tracking ovulation, but you still haven’t gotten pregnant, it may be time to see a specialist. Current medical guidelines suggest you should consult a fertility doctor if:
You’re a woman under the age of 35 who has been trying to conceive for one year with well-timed intercourse.
You’re a woman over the age of 35 who has been trying for six months without success.
Dr. Alan Copperman is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist with a long history of success in treating infertility and applying fertility preservation technologies. He serves as Medical Director of Progyny, a leading fertility benefits management company, and co-founded and serves as Medical Director of RMA of New York, one of the largest and most prestigious IVF centers in the country. Dr. Copperman is also the Vice Chairman and Director of Infertility for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Chief Medical Officer of Sema4, a health information company. Dr. Copperman has been named to New York magazine’s list of Best Doctors 17 years in a row. He has been recognized by his peers and patient advocacy organizations for his commitment to patient-focused and data-driven care. He has published more than 100 original manuscripts and book chapters on reproductive medicine and has co-authored over 300 scientific abstracts on infertility, in vitro fertilization, egg freezing, ovum donation, and reproductive genetics.