Are you Ovulating?
When trying for a baby, ovulation is the main event that has to occur, it’s even more important than the timing of intercourse for increasing your chances of conceiving. In this article you will learn how to identify your 6 fertile days and what you can do to ensure you are ovulating to maximise your chances of falling pregnant this month.
When Can You Expect to Ovulate?
Understanding your own monthly cycle is the first step towards knowing when you can expect to ovulate. We know that women are fertile for 6 days every cycle, 5 consecutive days leading up to ovulation and the 1 day of ovulation when you release an egg = 6 consecutive days. So, before we get clear on the physical signs that our body provides us when we are in our fertile window, let’s get an understanding of when you can expect to ovulate.
Although the length of everyone’s period is different, follow these steps to identify your own regular pattern of ovulation:
◦ Look at the dates of your last period
◦ Count backwards 14 days from the 1st day of your last period
◦ Around this point is when you are likely to have ovulated (in your last cycle)
◦ Your Luteal Phase (Day 1 after Ovulation to the day before your period started) is roughly around 10-16 days
◦ However, the time between the 1st day of your period and the day you ovulate can vary in length each month – this is also very normal
For example, if the first day of your last period was the 1st of August, I would expect ovulation to have occurred around the 18th July (14 days prior). The 14 days between these dates is your Luteal Phase and the 6 fertile days started from 14th July to 19th July (the day after Ovulation).
Physical Signs that you’re about to Ovulate
Now you know when you are likely to ovulate, the next step is to be able to identify what the signs of ovulation are. Below are the main 3 signs your body is showing you as you come up to ovulation and find out more here:
Cervical Mucus (CM) or Cervical Fluid - this is vaginal discharge that your body produces as you are leading up to ovulation. You will notice CM when you wipe after going for a wee, it will show on the toilet tissue or you will notice your underwear become more moist throughout the day. Another wonderful thing that us women go through, however this is essential to understand when trying to conceive. On the days leading up to ovulation you should start to notice this clear, stretchy, raw egg-like mucus. This is a sign that you are in your fertile period. One of the amazing benefits of this mucus is it’s job to keep sperm alive as it travels along your fallopian tubes to meet the egg that is preparing to be released. Another reason why we have 5 fertile days prior to ovulation. Side note – if you notice CM for a long time during your cycle, this doesn’t mean that you are fertile for this whole time. Remember, your fertile days are the 5 days leading up to ovulation and the 1 day from ovulation = 6 consecutive days in total. What you might be experiencing is high levels of estrogen throughout your cycle. This is why I highly recommend tracking CM and taking your BBT so you can see the true fertile days of your cycle. You can only ovulate once each cycle.
Tracking your BBT – Basal Body Temperature is your internal temperature, taken when you first wake up in the morning (not if you wake up during the night). It is taken with a digital thermometer, placed under the tongue and held for 5-10 seconds whilst you wait for a reading. Start tracking your temperature from when you see CM signs as this will also help to confirm if you have ovulated which I will explain shortly.
Changing of Hormones - The LH surge is another sign, that for most people trying to conceive, are all too familiar with, is the LH surge. Luteinising Hormone is the sex hormone that ovulation sticks or digital ovulation monitors are mainly testing for. LH is the hormone that signals to your ovarian follicle to release an egg – pretty essential if you are going to ovulate each month. Using test strips for this can be a good visual indicator that your LH is rising, the darker the line = the more luteinising hormone is being produced and is present in your urine. Keep taking the tests over consecutive days from when you start to see your fertile mucus and once you see the darkest line compared to previous tests, it is likely that ovulation will occur within the next 1-2 days. Comparing your LH surge date with your Basal Body Temperature increase can be another great indicator that you have ovulated.
How to tell if you have Ovulated
As soon as ovulation occurs, this triggers the release of the hormone Progesterone. Rising progesterone automatically increases body temperature and there you have another sign that you have ovulated. When you notice that your BBT has increased by at least 0.30C and temperature continues to remain above this elevated range until the first day of your next period, then you can be pretty sure you ovulated that month. As you can see, we’re not looking for a huge rise in temperature, you might start to notice that you don’t reach for an extra pair of socks in the few days after ovulation or you might not even notice yourself feeling warmer, but just this small rise in BBT can be enough to indicate that you have ovulated.
For example, if the day before you ovulated your BBT was around 36.20C and then it rises to 36.50C (or above) and stays at this higher temperature (or rises) for at least 3 days then you can be pretty sure you have ovulated. Pretty cool right!
Dietary Choices to help you Ovulate
If you feel like you have all or some monthly cycles without ovulating, you probably want to start making some diet and lifestyle changes to support your natural hormone levels and restore ovulation. This Fertile Friendly Foods Shopping Guide lists all the most fertile foods that can help restore hormone balance naturally.
So, there you have it, a whistle stop tour of how you can become the master of your monthly cycle. Whether you are trying to conceive or just wanting to be sure that you have a healthy menstrual cycle, start looking out for those all important signs of your fertile window leading to the main event of ovulation.