How to know when you are ovulating – learn to track your natural fertility biomarkers and find your fertile window
Tracking your ovulation is a great way to work out your fertile window, either for conception or pregnancy prevention. Figuring out how to track ovulation can feel a little overwhelming in the beginning so I’ve put together a little crash course to help you understand your body as much as possible!
What is ovulation?
Ovulation happens once per cycle when an egg is released from the ovaries, travels down the fallopian tube and into the uterus. If met with sperm and fertilised then a pregnancy begins, if not, then it triggers the start of your period.
There’s only one way to know for sure if you’ve ovulated and that’s with a scan, but there are ways to track your ovulation at home. These at home methods can give you a pretty good idea when ovulation is about to happen and also when it has happened which can be crucial for those trying to conceive…or those trying to prevent it!
Ovulation is part of a healthy and normal menstrual cycle. The absence of ovulation can indicate an underlying health problem or hormone imbalance so it’s really useful for everyone to learn how to track ovulation whether you’re trying for a baby or not.
Prefer to watch instead?
Take a look at my video on how to know when you are ovulating:
How to Know When You Are Ovulating
Ovulation testing comes in the form of an at home urine test that detects a surge in your LH hormone. The luteinising hormone is found in small amounts throughout your cycle, but just before an egg is released your body produces a larger amount which triggers the release of an egg. Ovulation can happen within 12-48 hours of that surge, so ovulation testing is a great way to help you time sex for conception (or avoid it!*).
Ovulation sticks need to be done a certain way and need to be used at the right time to avoid missing your window. I’ll be writing up another blog and filming a video talking in more detail about how to get the most out of your ovulation testing, how to use them efficiently and which brands I personally recommend – please do feel free to subscribe on YouTube or follow me on Instagram to be notified when those go live!
Again, too much or too little LH hormone can indicate an underlying problem or hormone imbalance so again, it’s great to be aware of this whether you’re trying to conceive or not. Knowledge is power when it comes to our own bodies!
Learning to Read Your Natural Biomarkers
Our bodies give us signs things are happening in the form of changes at each stage in our cycles. Learning how to read your fertility biomarkers will help you pinpoint your fertile window each month to either aid or avoid conception!
Remember to avoid sex during your fertile window or use another form of contraception (like these!) if you’re not trying to get pregnant.
Cervical Mucus or Discharge
When you are fertile, your cervical mucus or discharge (the white/clear stuff in your underwear!) will go clear and super stretchy like egg whites. It may feel nice to touch and feel quite silky and slippy. After ovulation discharge changes again – so look for this when you wipe or even by sweeping two clean fingers around and across your cervix to check.
Your discharge changes like this in the run up to ovulation to help facilitate conception by making it as easy as possible for sperm to get where it needs to be. Keep an eye out for those egg whites to let you know ovulation is on the way!
How to know when you are ovulating? Your cervix will tell you! When you’re fertile your cervix will move higher up the vaginal canal and feel more open. A fertile cervix feels softer too! When fertile your cervix feels like your bottom lip as opposed to when you’re not fertile where it feels harder like the end of your nose. Find your cervix by inserting a finger into your vagina and reaching up until you reach it. See how it changes throughout the month and it can tell you which stage of your cycle you are in.
BBT or Basal Body Temperature Tracking
BBT charting (when done correctly) is a great way to track your cycle and tell you where you’re at. I have a whole article and video on this if you’d like to know how to do it in more detail – CLICK HERE. But in short, your body temperature will be slightly lower before ovulation and higher afterwards. When charting your temperature look for a slight dip and then a steep rise to pinpoint when ovulation has occured. BBT tracking is a great way to confirm if ovulation has happened and combined with some of the other methods mentioned here you can quite accurately predict your fertile window as a whole for each cycle.
A note about using period tracking apps to calculate your fertile window…
Apps can help you start predicting ovulation but they’re not 100% accurate as they simply guess your fertile window using an algorithm. It’s important not to just use an app alone (without one of the other methods mentioned here) to help get pregnant or prevent pregnancy as you may miss your fertile window or think you’re safe when you’re not!
In my personal experience, when I started tracking my ovulation I noticed that my period tracking app was out by around 3-5 days which is the difference between a successful month or not! It even continued to say I’d already ovulated one month when my ovulation was delayed despite me logging multiple negative ovulation tests, so be careful!
*Don’t forget sperm can live in the vagina for up to 5 (sometimes 7) days so be aware of that when factoring your fertile window. If you have unprotected penetrative sex before you’ve ovulated, but then ovulate within that 5 day period then conception is still possible.
Your ovulation can change each month due to a variety of factors so keep this in mind. Usually the time between ovulation and your period (your luteal phase) stays the same, but your ovulation may change (thus making your period late) month by month. It’s a good idea to track your ovulation every month and adapt rather than relying on it being the same cycle day every time.
I have a blog and video on how to effectively and easily track your cycle if you’re wondering where to start – CLICK HERE.
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