Ovulation identification and signals

If you’re  trying to get pregnant , you’re probably paying attention to ovulation symptoms to figure out which day you’ll ovulate. Once you have identified this day, you can have intercourse and hope that it will lead to pregnancy.

Keep in mind that when you ovulate, you will only have a short window of time to conceive before the egg begins to die. Therefore, to optimize your chances of conceiving, it is important that you understand your cycle.

Let’s start by taking a look at the most important basics of your cycle, like what ovulation symptoms you might expect.

Understand your cycle

Understanding your menstrual cycle can be much easier if you know “what to look for.” You don’t need to be an expert! By understanding how the cycle works, you can learn how to predict ovulation after just one cycle. With simple knowledge, within everyone’s reach, you can shorten your journey to pregnancy.

The phase from day 1 of your menstrual cycle (when your period starts) to ovulation is called the follicular phase . The phase that goes from ovulation to the end of menstruation is called the luteal phase , and usually lasts from 12 to 16 days. The end of ovulation will determine the length of your cycle, not the first day of your period.

Tracking your cycle daily will help you understand the length of your follicular and luteal phases, which is very useful information.

What causes ovulation in your body?

Your ovaries are almond-shaped organs.

They develop follicles that contain eggs in preparation for ovulation. Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) promotes the development of approximately 5-12 follicles each cycle.

The dominant follicle is released during ovulation.

Growing follicles produce estrogen. Due to the high levels of the latter in your blood, luteinizing hormone (LH) triggers ovulation in your body.

Ovulation occurs approximately 12-24 hours after the LH surge, when the mature follicle bursts through the wall of the ovary. If the sperm is waiting for the egg, or if you are having sex right now, you will most likely become pregnant.

For 90% of women, the length of the cycle can vary between 23 and 35 days, with ovulation occurring on the 14th day.

Certain factors (such as stress) can delay ovulation, up to the third or fourth week. However, the way healthcare professionals calculate due dates for pregnancies is by assuming that ovulation occurs on the 14th day of a 28 day cycle. You can therefore understand why the estimated due date is not very precise.

Do women ovulate every month?

Not all women ovulate every month. If an ovary does not produce a mature follicle, ovulation does not occur. We will then have an anovulatory menstrual cycle. The endometrium (the inner layer of your uterus that forms in preparation for pregnancy) develops normally, but no eggs are released.

A small percentage of women may release two or more eggs in a 24-hour period. Beyond this time, no more eggs can be released due to hormonal changes in your body. Once the egg is fertilized, the hormones will prevent the release of any more eggs, thus protecting and promoting pregnancy.

Symptoms of ovulation

There are several ovulation symptoms you may notice. They include (not in order of importance):

  • Ovulatory pain or Mittelschmerz.  The most bothersome ovulation symptom for some women is ovulatory pain or Mittelschmerz – a German word meaning pain (schmerz) in the middle (mittel). In these women, ovulation causes sudden and constant pain in the lower abdomen. It is important to understand that painful ovulation is not normal. A little discomfort is normal, but pain is not. It could be a sign of ovarian cysts, adhesions caused by past surgeries, or other health problems. This pain should be looked into right away, especially if you are trying to conceive, as it could be a symptom of a medical problem that can occur in infertility.
  • Basal temperature drop.  To notice a drop in your basal body temperature, you need to track your cycle by taking your temperature every morning as soon as you wake up (at about the same time each day). This “mapping” plays an essential role in knowing your cycle and identifying what your body is doing and what it normally does. If you haven’t tracked your cycle before, this information won’t help you with your current cycle. You will need a basal thermometer. They are specifically designed to measure smaller than normal temperature fluctuations. They are accurate to +/- 0.05°C, measuring to two decimal places. basal thermometer There are various thermometers on the market that measure “fertility”, the important thing however is that it is a basal thermometer. After ovulation, you will notice that your temperature rises to normal, and will stay that way until your next period. If you get pregnant, your temperature will stay higher. This is how some women know when they can expect to ovulate, by noticing a drop in temperature around the time their period ends.
  • Cervical mucus.  Also observe your  cervical mucus several times a day is important, as it is one of the most reliable ovulation symptoms. Your mucus changes in response to being in a fertile or infertile part of your cycle. It’s also a good indicator that your fertility is returning after you’ve already had a baby. Cervical mucus changes depending on hormonal fluctuations (e.g. estrogen). After a period, mucus will typically be dry before becoming sticky; then creamy; then watery; before the most fertile state – clear, slippery and stretchable. In very fertile periods the mucus resembles raw egg white. This allows the sperm to reach the egg easily, and provides alkaline protection against the acidic environment of the vagina. As you get older, you will have fewer egg white cervical mucus (EWCM) days. For example,
  • Cervical position. Your cervix gives some really useful clues to know when you’re fertile. Check the position of the cervix. it is a useful method to understand when ovulation is approaching. You will probably need a few cycles to understand all the variations and changes in your cervix. Checking the position of the cervix is ​​most effective when done at the same time each day, as it won’t stay in the same spot all day. Always wash your hands before checking your cervix. Just like your cervical mucus, your cervix is ​​smart and changes to optimize your chances of conception. When you’re not fertile, you’ll notice that it feels low, hard (like the tip of the nose), and dry. To identify a fertile cervix, remember the acronym AMAU: High, Soft (like the earlobe), Open and Moist.
  • Other possible signs.  Below we provide a list of other possible ovulation symptoms which, however, are not as reliable as those described above:
    • breast soreness and tenderness;
    • increased libido;
    • increased energy levels;
    • enhanced sense of sight, smell and taste;
    • water retention;
    • speckled discharge: this is believed to be a result of the sudden drop in estrogen, prior to ovulation. Because there is no progesterone yet, the endometrium can leak small amounts of blood .

Using tests that predict ovulation

There are some ovulation predictor tests on the market that can help you detect changes in the body that signal that ovulation is approaching. Two of the most common are:

  • Ovulation prediction kit (urine test).  These kits can be purchased online, at a pharmacy, or at a supermarket. An ovulation prediction kit works like a pregnancy test , but measures your LH (luteinizing hormone) levels and indicates that you will be ovulating in the next 12-24 hours: it’s time to have a baby!
  • Microscopes for ovulation (saliva test).  These tests can also be purchased online and in pharmacies. These portable mini-microscopes allow you to observe the structure of a dry saliva sample. When you’re fertile, your saliva looks like a “fern-like” texture, different from what it does when you’re not fertile. Ovulation tests allow you to identify ovulation two or three days in advance.

Ovulation calculator – predict your most fertile days

If you want to figure out your most fertile days based on your period dates, try our  ovulation calculator : just enter the last date of your menstrual period, and your usual cycle length. The  calculator  will predict your next fertile days, so with more ovulation symptoms to look out for, you’ll have great tools to help you conceive sooner.

Sperm can survive inside a woman for about 3-5 days, so having sex before ovulation even starts could lead to pregnancy. If you’re trying to get pregnant, there’s no need to have lots of intercourse and time everything down to the exact moment you ovulate. This will make sex only functional to conception instead of pleasurable.

If you keep track of your cycle and if you can tell when you normally ovulate, you can enjoy a night of passion with your partner knowing that you are giving yourself a good opportunity to conceive a child.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform, Maternicity.com.

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