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How-To-Know-When-You-Ovulate

How To Know When You Ovulate

There are a number of ways to monitor ovulation in order to calculate the best days to have sex (or be inseminated). These include tracking your menstrual cycle, monitoring changes in your cervical mucus, and charting your basal body temperature (BBT). For best results, it’s helpful to use a combination of these.

Menstrual Cycle 

The average cycle for most women is 28-days. That means there are roughly six days each month when you can get pregnant, including the day of ovulation, and the five days before (as sperm can survive for a few days after sex). Having sex within this window is key, though it shouldn't be limited to only these dates.

The first step in calculating this, is to chart your menstrual cycle and record how long it lasts (there are some great apps like ‘Period Tracker’ which make it easy). Day one is the first day of your period. Since the length of your cycle can vary slightly from month to month, it's best to keep track for a few months in order to work out the average. Once you have this, subtract 18 days from the length of your shortest cycle to find the first day you’re likely to be fertile, and subtract 11 days from your longest cycle to find the last day you’re likely to be fertile. The window between these two dates gives you the days on which you’re most likely to get pregnant.

READ MORE: Your Ovulation Calculator

Checking Your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) 

The basal body temperature (BBT) is your lowest body temperature in a 24-hour period, taken first thing in the morning. A slight rise in BBT (often as slight as 0.25 to 0.5°C) is one of the signs that your body is ready to ovulate. This means that by recording your temperature at the start of every day, you should be able to see the subtle changes that mean one of your ovaries has released an egg.

You’ll need a basal body thermometer, which is more sensitive than standard and can track changes down to a fraction of a degree. They’re available in selected pharmacies. For best results, take your temperature at the same time each morning. It’s important to do this before you eat, drink, have sex, or even sit up in bed; so keep the thermometer and a notebook nearby.

Remember, it may take a couple of months before you start to see a pattern, but over time you’ll be able to understand what you’re seeing better. Once your temperature rises, it’s actually slightly late for fertilisation, as temperature changes usually occur 24 hours or more after the release of an egg. This means that the technique should be used for prediction, not as a green light to start trying. You're most likely to get pregnant two or three days before your ovary releases an egg, and then another 12 to 24 hours after that. When your temperature has spiked for three days, your chances of conceiving drop.

READ MORE: 10 Tips On How To Get Pregnant Faster

Mum’s Story
“My partner and I tried to conceive for three years before having our now two-year-old son Charlie. We had no fertility issues, so were advised to keep trying and I didn't want to go down the IVF route. Trying for a baby became extremely stressful because I became quite obsessive about making sure we had sex during ovulation. So much so, it began to feel like a chore. So we decided to relax about it, I stopped buying the ovulation kits and stopped using the basal body temperature thermometer, and four months later I fell pregnant. There's a lot to be said for taking the stress out of trying for a baby – it certainly worked for us."

Jane Clarke, Dublin

Check Your Cervical Mucus 

Throughout the month, a woman’s cervical mucus changes in consistency and colour. Just before and during ovulation, the amount, colour, and texture change to make it easier for you to get pregnant, which is another very simple way to detect ovulation.

As your ovaries prepare to release an egg, your cervix makes more mucus: A few days before ovulation, it may be sticky, cloudy or whitish. Then, right before you ovulate, the mucus gets more slippery and stretchy, like egg whites. This stage, which usually lasts three to four days, is when you're most likely to get pregnant.

A good time to check your cervical mucus is first thing in the morning, but it can be done at any time of day. On some days you may be able to see cervical mucus on the toilet paper after you wipe, or you may need to insert a clean finger into your vagina (toward your cervix) to get enough mucus to examine.

Keep in mind that other things, like breastfeeding, thrush, or using hygiene products can also affect your cervical mucus' appearance, which is why it is best charted in conjunction with other tests.

READ MORE: Preparing Your Body For Pregnancy

What If Charting Doesn't Work For Me? 

Even the most organised planners may find natural prediction methods tricky, as even regular cycles may not have ovulation after exactly 14 days. An alternative to this is using an ovulation predictor kit, which measures hormone levels in order to indicate when you’re about to ovulate. 

However, as long as you are regularly having sex (at least three times per week), particularly during the middle two weeks of your cycle, it’s not necessary to calculate your ovulation at all. In fact, if you’re likely to become overly stressed by calculation, it may be better not to.

READ MORE: 9 Easy Ways To Boost Fertility

Trying To Conceive? Have Regular Sex Throughout Your Cycle

You're most fertile within a day or two either side of an egg being released from your ovaries (ovulation). But you can get pregnant if you have sex at any point during the week before ovulation, as sperm can live inside a woman's body for up to seven days.

If you're hoping to get pregnant, you don't need to specifically plan sex around this time though. It can be difficult to work out exactly when you ovulate and trying to have sex to a schedule can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety – and may mean you actually end up having less sex. The NHS recommends to give yourself the best chance of getting pregnant, it's advisable to have sex every two or three days throughout your cycle.

Do you track your ovulation? What works best for you? Tell us how in the comments below. 


About the Author

Emily is our Digital Editor. She has three awesome nieces, and has accidentally worn the same outfit as them on at least one occasion. Emily likes making things, including hand-drawn cards, and a darn good chocolate cake. She still sounds very English, despite living in Dublin for the last nine years. More insight into the workings of her brain can be found on dancingcakesandsilence.blogspot.com.

Comments

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heather ruff
Hy... Am new here...me and my husband are trying to start our family, for last few months I have started tracking my dates..and tracking when I start ovulating... As per whattoexpect Many women use ovulation predictor kits, which identify the date of ovulation 12 to 24 hours in advance by looking at levels of luteinizing hormone, or LH, the last of the hormones to hit its peak before ovulation.
I am super excited to start this new phase in my life....
Is any one using predictor kit ??? Please let me know!!
20/09/2018 07:45:40

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