So, how do you know when you ovulate?
There are a few ways you can tell.
The first way you can tell is completely natural, involves no fertility tests, and in which you only rely on your womanly instincts and hormonal realities. That is, you feel horny. You want to get it on with your partner! If you have a regular cycle, this is a seriously strong impulse. A woman’s body has been giving cues for thousands of years, so who are you to be ignoring those impulses? You will likely feel this at the most in-opportune times, such as wanting to mount the clerk at the grocery store, or wanting to jump a cute guy on the walk home. When you notice this, make sure you go home right away, and jump your husband instead! Your hormones are a little bit slutty; they don’t only feel attracted to your partner—you have to teach them that aspect of commitment. But other than that, they won’t lead you astray. Women with a regular cycle don’t feel like jumping a man except when they’re ovulating, so that’s a major cue to you mamas-to-be!
The second way is that you just magically know when you are ovulating. That`s right; you just feel a “pop,” and know you’re ovulating. One-fifth of all ovulating women feel this, which means that four-fifths of women hate the one-fifth who can feel themselves ovulating! I have heard it described it as a “pop” feeling, like a minor period feeling. If you feel this feeling (like a half-period in the middle of your cycle), jump your husband right away, without any ado! Women who say they can feel ovulation say that it takes a bit of energy to ovulate, so it makes sense that they feel an energy depletion at ovulation. Again, most women don’t feel ovulation, so don’t feel bad if you don’t feel that little egg dropping!
Next, there are two more completely natural methods that can work to help you understand when your body is ovulating, so you can get down and dirty with your husband!
The first method is the basal body temperature (BBT) method. If you don’t feel intuitively that your body is ovulating, this is one of the next best ways to know that your body is ovulating. In order to measure your BBT, you need to measure your basal body temperature as a way of determining your ovulation. That means you need to take your temp every morning before you get out of bed in the morning, most likely using a digital thermometer, as that is the only one you’ll be able to read it that early in the morning! You pop it in your mouth each morning (don’t your husband wish he were a digital thermometer!), and write down your number on your calendar. Then, your base body temp goes up by a half- to a full-degree Fahrenheit, and you will know that it’s your time! You can try to conceive when you notice that your temperature is increasing. But, honestly, your best bet is to track it for a few months and to start with your partner BEFORE your temp is set to rise—that’s when it’s your best time for conceiving. Sperm are hardy and live for several days inside your cervix, like the ‘80’s nerds in those nerd movies, and the eggs are the cool girls who don’t have time to wait for someone to come up to them. So make sure that you set it up so the sperm can wait, and the eggs don’t need to wait!
The next best way to test for ovulation is by touching your cervical mucus. The “plus” is that you can tell your ovulation, and the “minus” is that you have to feel your vagina and cervix every day. A side benefit is that you will get more in touch with your cervix/vagina and your own sexual health.
Cervical mucus changes throughout your cycle—it gets more and more “welcoming” and plentiful as you get closer to your ovulation. Welcoming cervix looks like this: abundant, relatively thin, and similar in consistency to raw egg white. When you notice that your cervical mucus is like this, jump on your husband! It means that you are ovulating!
If you want to plan in advance, you can track your cervical mucus on your calendar, and plan for when you will get your “egg white” cervical mucus. You will want to have sex with your partner prior to when you anticipate your cervical mucus being this consistency, so that you can best prepare for your ovulation.
Have fun trying to reproduce, in any case! You’ll have the most success when you relax, so pick the philosophy that fits you the best. Good luck!
You probably know that ovulation is the most fertile time in your cycle. You probably also know that it is roughly halfway between the end of your last period and the start of your next one. But what are some other clues that now’s the time to get busy?
First and foremost, you body communicates with you to tell you when it’s the best time to get pregnant by making you really horny. Survival of the species, don’t you know? Your “biological imperative” is to reproduce, so our bodies have been telling us when it’s time to get pregnant for thousands of years, before any ovulation tests existed! If you don’t feel randy at a certain time during your cycle regularly (and you’re not on birth control), check your stress levels. Our reproductive cycles don’t work as well if our bodies are feeling stress, so your hormonal cues may be off. Try for a couple of cycles to track how you are feeling, while working to reduce stress and see if that has an impact on your randiness quotient. If not, it’s probably a good idea to get checked out by a doctor, to see if your hormones are functioning properly.
Your cervical mucus will change consistency. You should get the “raw egg white” mucus, and can feel it between your fingers. This is easy to do while you are sitting on the toilet, starting about a week after your period ends. Your cervical mucus gets wetter and wetter until you are ovulating, so you should be able to track the pattern. Once you notice the egg white consistency that means that the mucus will be helping the sperm travel up to your cervix to fertilize the released egg.
Your breasts will feel tender. This one really doesn’t need much more explanation—we all know what tender breasts feel like! They may also get larger, and your nipples may be enlarged as well.
Basal Body Temperature (BBT) rises. Your body temperature rises due to the influx of progesterone thickening the uterine walls in preparation for implantation. This is a far more involved way of measuring ovulation—it requires tracking your BBT every day so you can see when your BBT goes up.
Your body’s hormones are powerful and usually tell you when the best time to get pregnant is. A large part of reproduction is to trust your body’s cues and to listen to your instincts. Your body’s main purpose is to reproduce, so oftentimes your job is to ensure that your stress levels are low enough that your hormones can do their thing in peace! When you’re thinking about methods of tracking ovulation, ensure that those methods don’t cause you stress. This might interfere with the process you’re trying to encourage!
We are complicated creatures, aren’t we? We have so many complicated bits that do so many different jobs; it’s hard to keep up a proper understanding of what is going on! No doubt, you’ve heard of ovulation and you know it has something to do with getting pregnant. You may also know it is the process wherein the egg is released by the ovary.
Before we dive right into a discussion on ovulation, let’s talk vocab.
Women’s reproductive bits consist of the two ovaries, which create and mature eggs (otherwise called ova, plural, and ovum, singular). The ovaries are connected to the uterus via the fallopian tubes. The uterus is where the fertilized egg lives until it grows into a full-term baby and is born. The uterus goes down into the cervix, then to the vagina.
We as women may be less in-touch with our reproductive parts since they are all inside our bodies, whereas men’s reproductive parts are hanging off the front of their bodies! They interact with their reproductive bits every day (often many times a day!), so they tend to feel very connected with their reproductive selves. Women are usually aware of their periods, and that they tend to feel differently at different times in their cycles, but we don’t have a deep understanding of our systems and cycles. I hope that you will discover more about your body and your body’s ability to reproduce from reading this article!
So, exactly how does a woman ovulate? As you know, the ovulation process starts in the ovaries. Often, the ovaries alternate releasing an egg each cycle, although occasionally both ovaries release an egg, and occasionally neither releases an egg.
Prior to ovulation, the woman’s estrogen levels drop significantly, which is what stimulates the pituitary to release GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone). The ovary feels the surge of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and releases a follicle, which is a round cluster of cells around an immature egg. Baby girls are born with all the follicles and eggs that they will have in their entire lifetime. While men’s gonads continuously produce sperm, women’s gonads (ovaries) have all the eggs at the beginning. Some of these follicles are re-absorbed by the girl’s body before puberty, but a young woman has around 400 000 immature follicles and eggs in her ovaries at the time she hits puberty. Up to four follicles and eggs can be “brought forward” by an ovary in a cycle, although the extra three are usually just absorbed into the body.
At this point, the follicle helps to mature the egg, and then the follicle opens up and releases the mature egg out into the wide world (or at least the fallopian tube!). The egg travels down the fallopian tube and into the uterus.
But the follicle’s job is not done yet! This hard working clump of cells is now called a corpus luteum, and it produces a hormone called progesterone. This hormone is responsible for developing the uterine lining into a thick, cushy spot for the fertilized egg to implant. If the egg is fertilized and a pregnancy ensues, the corpus luteum keeps working by producing hormones necessary to maintain the pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilized, the corpus luteum fades quietly into the background and is absorbed into the body.
Ovulation is a complex and amazing process, and is not easily understood because it occurs inside the body, and we never see it happen. The more we know about our bodies and our reproductive selves, the more we feel comfortable and proud of what our bodies can do every menstrual cycle!
When you and your partner are trying to conceive, tracking when ovulation is occurring is a key way to determine when you are most fertile. However, knowing just when you’re ovulating isn’t enough. As a matter of fact, you must also know when to have intercourse in relation to ovulation in order to conceive. Having intercourse within five days of ovulation is vitally important, especially because this increases your chances of conception. Contrary to popular belief, having intercourse the day after ovulation isn’t the best time for conception to occur. Thus, it is extremely important to learn when intercourse should occur after ovulation to increase your chances of becoming pregnant.
As you might suspect, there is a greater likelihood that you will become pregnant on the day that you ovulate in contrast to the days that precede it. Of course, it’s also important to remember that sperm can survive up to five days after ejaculation. This means that you might become pregnant before ovulation occurs depending upon when you are having intercourse.
Throughout the time that you’re trying to conceive, it is important to avoid substances such as smoking, caffeine, drugs, and alcohol, among others. Additionally, reducing stress is extremely important as well, although this is sometimes easier said then done depending on how long you’ve been trying to conceive. However, by following these steps, you will increase the likelihood of conception occurring because you are maintaining a healthy body ideal for pregnancy.
Of course, there is more to keep in mind than just these few guidelines. Yet another important factor to be mindful of is that you should be on the lookout for a surge in hormones or the first positive ovulation test that you take. Some women will continue to take ovulation tests and receive several positive results, however this is not important. You might believe that this is counter intuitive; however, the first positive test is indicative of the fact that ovulation will occur between 12 and 72 hours later. Thus, it is imperative that you have intercourse at this time in order to increase your chances of conception.
It is important to remember that even when you do follow these steps and chart ovulation, you aren’t always going to get pregnant on your first attempt. Sometimes, it takes couples several months or even longer in order to have a positive pregnancy test. This is to be expected in many cases, as the majority of couples experience the same situation while trying to conceive. Therefore, you should go into pregnancy with the expectation that you won’t conceive on the first few tries.
However, if you’ve been charting ovulation for a year and have timed intercourse properly and still don’t become pregnant, it might be in your best interest to visit your doctor. Your doctor will be able to determine any underlying problems preventing pregnancy from occurring, making it easier to determine what is wrong and how you can overcome it in order to conceive.
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When a couple decides to make a baby, the male partner is often in the dark about the process. Of course, he knows the process, and probably looks forward to it. But very often a woman keeps the details – like tracking ovulation – to herself.
While there’s not a lot a man can do about when a woman ovulates, he can still share the journey of discovery leading up to that all-important night of passion otherwise known as the “baby dance.”
So, men, listen up. Here’s what you should understand about ovulation and how it’s going to help you become a dad:
- When an egg and sperm get together, pregnancy occurs. You’ll probably remember this much from health class, but it’s worth a quick review. Your sperm carries either an X or a Y chromosome. Your partner’s egg carries the X chromosome. When your partner ovulates (releases an egg – see more below) one of your sperm can penetrate that egg. If your sperm has the Y chromosome, the baby will be a boy; if it has the X chromosome, it will be a girl.
- Ovulation is the time during a woman’s cycle when she can get pregnant. During the normal monthly cycle, a woman’s body will release a mature egg into her fallopian tubes. That egg can live there for as long as 24 hours, waiting for sperm to penetrate it. After that, the egg isn’t viable anymore.
- Ovulation occurs around 14 days from the start of her next menstrual cycle. Don’t have a crystal ball? Neither does she – which is why some couples struggle to get pregnant. If a woman’s cycle is exactly 28 days (that’s only about a third of women) then she will ovulate on day 14. If her cycle is usually 31 days, she’ll ovulate on day 17. If she has an irregular cycle (about 10% of women do) there’s a lot more guesswork involved.
- There are some signs that your partner is ovulating. Your partner’s cervical mucus, which is discharged throughout the month, changes in color, consistency and elasticity. During ovulation, this discharge will be about the color and consistency of an egg white. This is one of the most common ways women can track their ovulation – by tracking their cervical mucus. There’s also a slight increase in a woman’s resting body temperature, known as “basal body temperature,” just prior to ovulation. Tracking basal body temperature is another way to predict ovulation.
- Your sperm have about five days to fertilize an egg. The egg only survives for about 24 hours, but your sperm can live for up to five days after it enters a woman’s body. That means there’s a period of about a full week where, if you have sex, it’s possible that conception will occur. Many couples who are trying to conceive will have sex daily leading up to and including the day the woman ovulates.
So, there you have it. That’s ovulation in a nutshell. If you’re trying to conceive and your partner tells you her basal body temperature is rising, you’ll know it’s time to get busy and do your part!
Why is it that some couples seem to pop out babies every time they look dreamy eyed at each other, while others try and try to conceive to no avail? It may be dumb luck, it may be in the genes, or it may be that they’ve actually put more effort into getting pregnant than meets the eye.
In any case, research has shown that educating couples about the fertility cycle can increase the chances for those who are trying to conceive. Often, the first step necessary for women who are trying to conceive is to admit that they don’t know what they don’t know. In one recent survey, nearly 70% of women who were trying to conceive claimed that they believed they had intercourse on their most fertile days. With further fertility education and counseling, most of them discovered that they were mistaken about their most fertile days.
Understanding the Basics of Ovulation
In fact, nearly 80% of women were not really aware of when they were most fertile. For most of us, ovulation occurs fourteen days after our last period started. Our greatest fertility occurs within a three day window of ovulation, with the peaks being three days before ovulation and during ovulation itself. Those are the best times to have sex if you want to get pregnant.
Of course, there is more to optimizing your chances of getting pregnant than simply knowing when you are most fertile and having sex on those days. While that’s a good start, there are a number of other things you can do to improve fertility. These range from having your partner wear loose fitting underwear (i.e., boxers, not briefs) to dietary changes which you can make to improve your fertility.
Educating Yourself Improves Your Chances
The more you are able to educate yourself on your ovulation cycle and fertility in general, the more you will improve your chances of conception. This holds true whether you are seeking professional help with conceiving or not.
Of course, educating yourself doesn’t increase your fertility, per se. Your genetics and habits determine that. Still, learning more about ovulation and other factors which affect fertility can put you in the best position to make the most of what nature gave you.