The ovulatory cycle


Knowing the particular signs or symptoms associated with ovulation is important.  If you aren’t having sex around the time of ovulation, the chances of getting pregnant become less likely.

What is Ovulation?

Ovulation is the term used when referring to the discharge of the egg from your ovarian follicle. If you have an average 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation would commonly take place around cycle day fourteen. For women whose menstrual cycles are irregular, ovulation can fluctuate according to different factors. When the egg is released, it travels down the fallopian tubes and waits to meet the sperm. According to the American Pregnancy Association, a healthy egg should be able to be fertilized for 12 to possibly 24 hours after having been released. It is important to utilize the window of ovulation before the 12 hours is up, for the optimal chance at conception. The egg will start to degrade quickly and the chances of conceiving will be slim so you must make sure that you time intercourse correctly. Although there are quite a few days every month that you are fertile, you are only at your most fertile during the days surrounding ovulation. Therefore, maximize your conception odds by having sex on alternate days during the week of ovulation.

Identifying Ovulation

A great way to be able to predict ovulation is to utilize a good ovulation diary or chart where you can keep records of all your periods and the days that they started and ended. The first recording on the chart should be the very first date of your period. Therefore, CD1 is the very first day of your period, and since most women commonly ovulate 14 days after the start of their period, ovulation is typically marked as CD14. If you experience irregular periods, you may find this method of charting difficult, as your ovulation will most likely not occur on the 14th day of every month. However, there are many other ways to predict ovulation, including a variety of menstrual cycle charts and calendars, as well as basal body temperature charting, saliva testing, and ovulation predictor tests.

Counting Down Days to Ovulation

One of the easiest methods of predicting ovulation simply requires counting down the days. Keep in mind that your first day of your period, when you see red blood, will typically occur 14 days after you last ovulated. If your cycles are regular every month, then this method will be very easy for you. For instance, if your cycles are exactly 28 days, then you will ovulate around cycle day 14; or if your cycles are exactly 32 days then you will ovulate on cycle day 16.

Women who suffer from amenorrhea, or have irregular cycles, may find this method frustrating. Therefore, it is always a good idea to combine this method with one or more other ovulation prediction methods to gain a better understanding of when you are ovulating.

Physical Signs or Symptoms of Ovulation

Our bodies exhibit numerous physical indicators associated with ovulation. Slight spotting during the time of ovulation can be common for many women. This spotting will usually be a light red, pink, or even a brown color, and really should only last for 24 hours.

Cramping on the side of ovulation is a also another common symptom for many women. Known as mittelschmerz, this pain often ranges from dull pain to sharp twinges, and is experienced by about one-fifth of all women. This lower abdominal pain should last for less than 24 hours. Some women do not even notice any pain at all.

Cervical Mucus Changes Around Ovulation

Your cervical mucus goes through a number of changes throughout your menstrual cycle. By observing changes in your cervical mucus, you can more accurately predict where you are in your cycle, as well as predict when ovulation might occur. Cervical mucus changes are a very common telltale sign of impending ovulation. During ovulation, cervical mucus will take on a stringy, elastic-like physical appearance, just like egg whites. You will need to monitor your cervical mucus throughout your cycle, so that you are aware of any changes that might indicate ovulation.

You can check the quality and quantity of your cervical mucus by either wiping with toilet paper, or inserting two, clean fingers into your vagina. During the days just after your period has ended, you will experience dryness or lack of cervical mucus. The closer to ovulation you get, the more your cervical mucus will increase. The texture should range from dry to sticky to wet and egg white-like. Colors changes are common too and will go from yellowish and cloudy to clear and transparent. Once you feel your cervical mucus resembles raw egg whites, they you can rest assured that you will ovulate soon.

The main purpose of fertile cervical mucus is to support the sperm so that it can move easily through the cervix.  If you feel that you are lacking fertile cervical mucus, or that your cervical mucus never seems to reach the raw egg white stage, then you should consider using a special lubricant such as Pre-Seed. Pre-Seed is the only true lubricant that has been scientifically proven to be sperm friendly.

Predicting Ovulation with Kits

If you are not sure whether you are ovulating, you can always use an ovulation prediction kit.   Right before your egg is released, your body will release a surge of LH (luteinizing hormone).    Ovulation predictor tests work by detecting the surge in the LH hormone in your urine.   A positive OPK with show the test line as dark, or darker than, the control line.  Once the surge is detected, you will typically ovulate within 24 to 36 hours.

Basal Body Temperature

Another smart way to discover if you are ovulating is to check your basal body temperature (BBT). This is your temperature upon waking up each morning but before getting out of bed. Understand though, that monitoring your BBT will only tell you that you have ovulated, not that you are going to ovulate as an ovulation predictor test kit would. After recording your BBT over a few cycles, you will slowly start to see a pattern emerging. Similar to recording your cycle days, you can also record your basal body temperature on a chart. However, there are certain elements that you must consider:

  • Make sure that the first day indicated on the chart is the actual first day of your period, i.e. red blood, not pink blood.
  • Take your temperature every morning before getting out of bed or going to the bathroom.
  • Use a special basal body thermometer as this will give you the most accurate result.
  • Remember to use the same thermometer each morning.
  • Try to take your temperature at the same time. Set an alarm if you need to.
  • Make a note on your chart if you experience any emotional stress, sleep issues, illness, fever, or if you drank alcohol the night before. It is also helpful to describe your cervical mucus as well.

Right after you have ovulated, you will notice a temperature rise of approximately 0.4-0.6 degrees Fahrenheit (about 0.2 degrees Celsius). There should also be a slight temperature shift on the day of your ovulation. The temperature on the two ensuing days should climb increasingly higher. You will only be able to recognize ovulation in retrospect when it forms an upward line with the two days afterward.

Your post-ovulation temperatures will continue at this higher level, until your period starts and your temperature plummets. If you were successful in conceiving then your basal body temperature will maintain itself at an elevated level. Because the temperature shift only happens during ovulation, if you are trying to conceive, charting your BBT for at least two months will help you better pinpoint when ovulation occurs.

Figuring out the signs and symptoms of ovulation can help you to determine when you are ovulating; knowing this can help you increase your chances of conception by ensuring that you time intercourse appropriately.