Recognising when you ovulate is one of the most important skills you can learn if you’re trying to get pregnant. Ovulation is the most important event for your fertility in each cycle, and it anchors what is known as your ‘fertile window’ – the six days in each cycle when you have the best chance of getting pregnant: your personal peak of fertility.
Today we’re taking a look at the ovulation symptoms, signs and changes that can tell you when your ovaries are getting ready to release an egg and therefore when you’ll be ready to ovulate.
Your core temperature can be influenced by your body’s preparations for ovulation, which makes it a useful tool for finding out when you’re fertile. Unfortunately, during the day your temperature is subject to too much environmental disruption to offer an accurate reading of what’s happening at the level of tenths of a degree inside your body. The ambient temperature, your level of exertion and even what you’ve had to eat or drink can all raise or lower your temperature and cloud the results you need.
What you need to measure is known as your BBT – your basal body temperature. This is the low temperature your body drops to overnight as your metabolism slows down. Taking your temperature first thing in the morning can give you access to this low level and as you chart your temperature every day across several weeks, you’ll start to recognise patterns that tell when you’ve ovulated.
Your cervical mucus also changes in character as ovulation approaches. Normally it functions as a barrier, preventing contaminants penetrating too far into your body, but in order to fertilise the egg, sperm have to be able to pass the cervix, into the uterus and fallopian tubes.
This means that you can check your cervical mucus and look for it changing into what’s called ‘fertile mucus’. This is more translucent, slicker and wetter than normal – it’s often compared to the appearance and consistency of egg white. If you check it during multiple cycles, you will begin to recognise when it starts to indicate your fertile period is approaching.
Ovulation is a process governed by your hormones, and if you use the right test, you can spot the hormone changes that tell you ovulation is coming. OPKs or Ovulation Predictor Kits are similar to pregnancy tests: they’re sticks that you need to immerse in urine so they can test for hormones. OPKs are looking for a surge in LH: the hormone that causes ovulation.
Any single one of these signs or symptoms might not provide a full picture but if you combine them then you’ll soon be able to understand how your body tells you when you’re ready to get pregnant!