Every month, a woman’s cycle is geared around becoming pregnant. The optimum time of conception is during ovulation, the small window when an egg is released and available for fertilization. Here are some ways to know when you’re ovulating.
The average woman’s menstrual cycle lasts 28 days. However, this may be shortened or elongated by as much as one week either way. Since an individual cycle may change from month to month, women are advised to keep a record of their periods for a few months to get an idea of their normal range. For a normal four week cycle, it is simple to count 14 days from the first day of the last period to estimate the day of ovulation.
Alongside an ovulation calendar, women can also chart their body’s basal temperature (BBT). While higher levels of estrogen present during the pre-ovulatory stage will reduce BBTs, the progesterone released after ovulation will lead to a rise in BBT of as much as a half a degree. This is an indication that an egg has been released. Using an ovulation calendar will help reveal a pattern that can allow women to better predict when ovulation will occur in the future.
Some women can actually feel when ovulation is occurring. A number of women experience a small series of cramps on one side of the abdomen. Known as “mittelschmerz”, these “middle pains” provide a message that an egg is ready to be fertilized.
Ovulation is all about hormones and preparing the body for pregnancy. When an egg is about to be released, the cervix changes to encourage conception. The cervix lies between the uterus and vagina. It is normally hard and closed, but when ovulation approaches, it softens and slightly opens for sperm to enter. Signs of a changing cervix include an increase in vaginal mucus. The body uses this liquid to carry the sperm up into the body.
A woman will notice a dryness following her period. A week later, the mucus appears white or cloudy, but it breaks apart with ease. As ovulation approaches, the mucus thins, becomes clear and slippery, and stretches without breaking. After ovulation, the mucus dries once again. Recording cervical mucus changes over a few months will be another helpful tool for estimating ovulation.
Technology has made it extremely easy to predict ovulation. Kits exist on store shelves which analyse luteinizing hormone levels. This is the final hormone to peak before ovulation. This type of kit tests urine, but other kinds of tests are also available. For example, a saliva test analyses estrogen levels to predict ovulation.
Identifying ovulation is essential for women looking to conceive. The above tips offer ways to uncover the most fertile windows in a women’s cycle so conception can occur with greater ease.