To boost your chances of getting pregnant, it helps to know when you're ovulating. Then you'll know when you and your partner should be having sex.
Ovulation happens halfway through your cycle. Every woman’s cycle is different, so you have to pay attention to the signs.
There are many ways you can tell if the time is right.
What Are Ovulation Symptoms?
Here are the signs you may have when your body releases an egg:
- Your basal or resting temperature falls slightly, then rises again. You can use a special thermometer to check your temperature every morning before you get out of bed. You’re most fertile 2 or 3 days before your temperature rises.
- Your cervical mucus becomes clearer and thinner with a slippery consistency, like egg whites.
You may also notice:
- Tender breasts
But these symptoms don’t always mean you’re ovulating.
How to Track Ovulation Symptoms
Mark your calendar
Take note of when your period begins and ends and know how long your cycle lasts. Doctors say it's best to have sex at least every other day, especially during the 5 days before you ovulate. They call this your "fertile window." Your egg only lives for about 12 to 24 hours. But sperm can survive for a few days inside your body, so it's ideal to have them already there waiting for your egg.
Watch for body changes
Your hormone levels change throughout your menstrual cycle. During the first half, your ovaries give off the hormone estrogen. When your estrogen levels get high enough, your ovary releases an egg. Then your body starts to make progesterone, another hormone. It makes your body temperature rise slightly.
Your hormones also change the texture of your cervical mucus, the sticky fluid that comes from your cervix, the bottom of your uterus. As your body gets ready to ovulate, you have more of it, and it feels more stretchy and slippery, like raw egg whites. The texture helps sperm swim inside your body. When your mucus feels like this, you should be in your fertile window.
Ovulation predictor kits
These tests, which you can buy at drugstores, give you a more precise idea of when to expect your fertile window. They test your urine to measure your levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), which go up in the 24 to 36 hours before you ovulate. When your LH levels are highest, you're in the fertile window.
The kits have enough test strips to let you check your LH levels several times during your menstrual cycle. Start testing a few days before you think you might ovulate, then repeat a few times over the next few days to pinpoint the exact day. When your LH levels are highest, you're in the fertile window.
Progesterone ovulation tests
These tests can find out whether you have ovulated. They look at the levels of progesterone metabolite (pregnanediol glucuronide, or PdG) in your urine.
PdG levels typically rise 24-36 hours after you ovulate, so the tests are highly accurate. Start testing your levels before your anticipated menstrual cycle. These tests also have several strips to allow you to check your progesterone levels throughout your cycle.
A twinge of pain
It's possible to feel yourself ovulate, but many women don't notice it. You might notice a slight pain in your side about halfway through your menstrual cycle. But if you're trying to get pregnant, don't wait for the twinge. That means your fertile window is soon closing.
When Does Ovulation Happen?
If your menstrual cycle lasts 28 days and your period arrives like clockwork, it's likely that you'll ovulate on day 14. That's halfway through your cycle. Your fertile window begins on day 10. You're more likely to get pregnant if you have sex at least every other day between days 10 and 14 of a 28-day cycle.
How Long Does Ovulation Last?
Your fertile window typically lasts 4-5 days. These are the days leading up to when you ovulate.
Ask Your Doctor
Some women don't ovulate on a set schedule. If you can't figure out when it happens or if your menstrual cycle isn't regular, ask your doctor for help.