How do I know when I'm ovulating?
Timing is everything
As much as I’d love not to say it but I’ve got to tell you timing is everything when it comes to having a baby. Despite what you might read on the web if that egg and sperm don’t meet it’s just not going happen. So knowing when you ovulate is the first step and with a bit of observation and maybe using a device just to make sure you’ll probably be able to figure it out.
Signs and symptoms
So to start with our bodies will show us certain signs and symptoms that we are about to ovulate. These include the presence of fertile mucous for a few day prior which is slippery and stretchy in its consistency and can be compared to egg white. This mucous indicates the time is coming and it also helps the sperm make its way up through the vagina and cervix to meet the egg.
Some women (but not most) may experience pain or another sensation (it’s been described to me as a ‘ping’) that the ovary has released its egg. I have never felt this myself but it seems to be very reliable for some of my clients. It’s important to remember that if this is the method you use to determine ovulation then your egg will only be able to be fertilised for 12-24 hours so get onto that baby-making in a timely manner.
Basal body temperatures
Charting basal body temperatures (BBT’s) can also be used to detect ovulation. If you are going to use this method you must take your temperature every morning as soon as you wake up either orally or vaginally. If you forget and have already got out of bed then don’t do it at all as it won’t be accurate and will interfere with your other data.
There are many apps which can be downloaded for free (my favourite is Fertility Friend) and you can enter your temperature into these. When you ovulate there will be a drop in temperature and then a rise which indicates that ovulation has occurred. As you may have already picked up the downfall of BBT’s is that it tells you you’ve ovulated after you’ve ovulated which means you have probably missed your fertile window for that month. This also means you can happily not worry about getting pregnant once you’ve seen the temperature rise but for most people reading this page you’re not looking for contraception!
So BBT’s can be very useful to practitioners like myself who are trying to figure out where your body needs a bit of tweaking to allow it to get pregnant but if you are out there on your own I would also recommend also using another sign or device as described below to make sure you are getting you timing right.
Many women may not be aware of or have these signs or just want reassurance that they are definitely getting their timing right and optimizing their pregnancy chances. In this case there are several devices which can be used to detect hormones levels which increase or surge prior to ovulation.
Ovulation predictor kits
The cheapest of these are ovulation predictor kits (OPK’s) which detect the luteinising hormone (LH) surge which occur prior to ovulation. You may be able to buy these cheaply from your acupuncturist or other health care provider, more expensively form a pharmacy or you can buy them online from sites like EBAY. Often then you’ll have to buy them in bulk but you can always pass them on to girlfriends once you’re pregnant.
With these kits you need to collect a sample of your urine at some stage between 10am and 8pm (outside of these time the LH may not be high enough to be detected and you’ll miss it). They are very similar to a pregnancy test in that if only 1 line shows up it is negative and when 2 lines are present it’s positive. My advice would be that when you see a positive (even if it’s faint) you should have sex but also continue to do the OPK’s and have sex at least every two days until the test is negative again.
Clear Blue digital ovulation test
Another device my clients find effective is called ‘Clear Blue’ and you can buy these at a pharmacy. This device also requires a urine sample but instead of the line it gives you a reading of high fertility and then peak fertility. Whilst the Clear Blue device is more expensive than OPK’s some of my clients who have struggled with interpreting the OPK’s have found these much easier to use.
The last device on the market are those which use saliva but in my experience these are the most expensive, least reliable and most difficult for women to interpret and so I really don’t recommend them over the other methods.
So to sum it all up timing is everything! If you need some help find a practitioner experienced in fertility and hopefully you’ll be well on your way to starting or continuing your family.