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How to Track Ovulation

When do you ovulate?

Each woman’s average cycle length is slightly different, lasting anywhere from 21 to 35 days. Ovulation usually takes place 2 weeks after the first day of your period, which is also about 2 weeks before the start of your next period.

What are the signs and symptoms of ovulation?

While ovulation is not always or easily detectable, there are some signs or symptoms you may notice if you are tracking your body changes closely.

The most common sign of ovulation, which is experienced by up to 50% of women is cramping and abdominal pain in the low belly. The pain level is mild to moderate and can last anywhere from a few hours to about 48 hours.

The pain is often concentrated on one side of the low belly and is not as painful as menstrual cramps, but does have a similar sensation.

Your vaginal discharge and cervical mucus also change at the time of ovulation. As ovulation approaches, your vaginal discharge may increase and appear clear or creamy white in color 48 hours before ovulation.

Your cervical mucus also changes to aid in fertilization. During this time, it’s thinner and more slippery than other times during your cycle. It is most often compared to egg whites.

When the egg is released (ovulation) it causes a rupture, which may lead to mid-month bleeding. It will be lighter than a normal period and usually occurs as just a little bit of spotting about 2 weeks before you expect to get your period. Many women never experience mid-month spotting.

Some women also experience tender or sore breasts and a heightened sense of taste and/or smell when they are about to ovulate. These symptoms are harder to detect, but may be noticeable in conjunction with our signs.

Finally, your basal body temperature (BBT)—your lowest temperature at rest—increases slightly just before ovulation. This is arguably the most reliable sign of ovulation.

That’s why many women use BBT to track ovulation. See How do you track ovulation? below for more info.

What are the benefits of tracking ovulation?

The biggest benefit of tracking ovulation is that it helps plan sex for pregnancy. If you’ve had trouble getting pregnant even though you’ve been having unprotected sex, tracking ovulation can help you pinpoint the best times to have sex in order to conceive.

It can also highlight irregularities in your menstrual cycle that may be a signal of infertility issues and can guide a conversation with your doctor. Tracking ovulation should never be used as a birth control method.

How do you track ovulation?

Use an Ovulation Predictor Test

Ovulation Predictor Tests are available over-the-counter at most pharmacies as well as online. These tests rely on a urine sample to detect signs of ovulation.

Generally, you begin testing when you expect ovulation is near, 14 days after your last period started. Once you receive a positive result, you can expect ovulation to occur within 1–2 days.

Calculating from Your Menstrual Cycle

The length of your menstrual cycle is the time between the first day of your last period and the first day of the subsequent period. Since many women’s menstrual cycles vary in length, you should use the average length of your cycles for as long as you’ve been tracking.

You may consider using an ovulation app or one of the many available online ovulation calculators to help your track.

Ovulation occurs about 14 days prior to getting your period. That means if you cycle is the average length of 28 days, you’re fertile window is 12–14 days after getting your period.

If you have a longer cycle, say 35 days, your fertile window is 19–21 days after your period. For women with a shorter cycle, for example 21 days, 7–10 days after your period is your fertile window.

Recording Your Basal Body Temperature

As mentioned above, your BBT is the most accurate sign of ovulation. You can measure BBT using a basal body temperature thermometer, which is a special thermometer that is more precise and measures in smaller increments than a regular thermometer.

You should record your BBT every day before getting out of bed. As patterns begin to emerge, you will see a slight spike in BBT just before ovulation. After a month or two of charting BBT, you can begin trying to time sex with ovulation.

Examining Your Cervical Mucus

Glands in and around the cervix secrete cervical mucus, which works to either prevent things from entering the cervix or help sperm enter the cervix when a woman is ovulating. Hormonal changes throughout the menstrual cycle cause changes in the consistency of the mucus to aid in either of its tasks.

A couple days before ovulation, your cervical mucus will resemble egg whites. When you see this indicator you are in or just outside the fertile window. You will need to use your fingers to manually check your cervical mucus.

Use clean hands and get a sample from as close to the cervix as possible for the most accurate results.

Resting Pulse Rate

A 2017 study showed that resting pulse rate rose two days before ovulation. Resting pulse rates is lowest when you’re on your period and can increase as much as 2 BPM as many as five days before ovulation.

Are these methods for tracking ovulation accurate?

Methods for tracking ovulation are generally pretty accurate, especially if you are someone who experiences regular menstrual cycles. Many women choose to use multiple tracking methods, which help strengthen results for better accuracy.

What is the most accurate method to track ovulation?

Ovulation predictor tests are the most accurate method for tracking ovulation. Next to ovulation predictor tests, charting BBT is one of the most accurate methods, but also takes the most time and consistency.

When is the best time to track ovulation?

Ovulation predictor tests will come with instructions that tell you when to track for best results. If you are using the BBT tracking method, you need to take your temperature first thing in the morning before getting out of bed for the most accurate results. Other methods are not as time sensitive.

How long after ovulation are you fertile?

After you ovulate, you are still fertile for 1–2 days.

Can tracking ovulation be used to prevent pregnancy?

Ovulation tracking is nowhere near accurate enough to be used as birth control. Menstrual cycles change often and suddenly and you should never rely on self-reported patterns to prevent pregnancy.

How do you track ovulation with irregular periods?

For women with irregular periods, all tracking methods except calculating your menstrual cycle are good options to try. You may consider ovulation predictor kits as your first choice as they rely least on patterns and consistent tracking.

How do you track ovulation with PCOS?

Women with PCOS do not experience regular periods. The same tracking methods, aside from calculating menstrual cycle, can be used to detect when ovulation is coming.

When can you track ovulation after miscarriage?

Your body may ovulate as soon as two weeks after a miscarriage. However, it’s wise to at least wait until you’ve had one period before tracking ovulation and trying to get pregnant again. The most important thing during the weeks following a miscarriage is to let your body readjust.

Can you track ovulation while on birth control?

Birth control pills inhibit the body from ovulating, which is how they work to prevent pregnancy. Since birth control prevents ovulation, there is no ovulation to track if you are on the pill.

Can you track ovulation to improve your chances of having a girl or a boy?

According to the Shettles method, you can increase your chances of having a girl by timing conception 3–4 days before ovulation. If you desire a boy, time sex no more than one day before ovulation and no more than 12 hours after.

Does ovulation always happen on the exact day of calculated ovulation?

The menstrual cycle is a finicky thing that often changes without warning. Every single ovulation tracking method can get it wrong at times.

What are the chances of pregnancy when tracking ovulation?

Tracking ovulation to find your fertile window can increase your chances of getting pregnant by 30%. If a 30% chance of conceiving during the estimated fertility window doesn’t seem like a lot, just think of the 0–10% chance you have on other days of the month.

Consciously tracking ovulation can have huge affects on how quickly you conceive.

What if the tracking ovulation method does not work?

While tracking ovulation can help some couple with minor fertility issues, like irregular periods, it is not a common cure for most infertility issues. Many couples that have trouble getting pregnant need medical intervention to help them conceive.

If you are tracking ovulation and are unable to get pregnant, it’s time to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help determine what, if any, fertility issues are present in both partners and how they may be treated.