“When do I ovulate?” is the first question you need to ask if you want to get pregnant. Here are three ways to know when you ovulate, and all are free: the calendar method, the basal body temperature method, and the cervical mucus method.
The Clearblue Advanced Digital Ovulation Test is the best way to know when you’re ovulating because it’s more accurate and specific than the other two methods (the calendar method and the cervical mucus method). You don’t necessarily need to buy a digital thermometer to know when you ovulate, but it’s definitely the easiest way to track and predict ovulation.
Ovulation happens when an egg matures and is released from the ovary; it then travels down the fallopian tubes and is ready to be fertilized. The uterine lining becomes thicker in preparation for egg fertilization and implantation if fertilized. If the egg does not become fertilized, conception does not occur and the uterine lining will shed (menstruation).
Knowing when you ovulate can help you get pregnant because ovulation equals the most fertile time of the month. Yes, you can get pregnant at other times during your cycle, but your chances of pregnancy are increased if you have sex when you ovulate. That’s why it’s important to know when you ovulate, and why women ask “Am I ovulating?” when they’re trying to conceive.
Knowing when you ovulate is tricky because different factors affect ovulation: hormones, stress, health and wellness, and disruption to your normal routine. Generally, only one egg is released per cycle from your ovaries, and it lives approximately 12-24 hours after being released. Women are born with millions of eggs, and the number of eggs decrease as we age.
In the days leading up to ovulation, your body will increase production of estrogen. Estrogen (specifically estradiol) is what triggers your luteinizing hormone (LH) to surge. The surges in estrogen are responsible for making the environment more “sperm-friendly” within your body, as well as causing the uterine wall to thicken (progesterone). If you can learn how to know when you ovulate, you increase your chances of pregnancy.
An LH (luteinizing hormone) surge is generally the day before or day of ovulation, when your ovaries release an egg. An egg that is unfertilized will disintegrate and be shed with the lining during menstruation. Some women experience minor pain or discomfort when ovulating, some experience light spotting.
3 Ways to Know When You Ovulate
The calendar method. Becoming aware of your menstrual cycle is the first step in using the calendar method. The average woman has a menstrual cycle between 28 to 32 days. Day 1 is the first day of your period. Approximately around day 7 to day 21; ovulation will occur. Around day 28, the hormone levels in your body will drop and the uterine lining starts to shed (actual shedding is the first day of your next cycle).
If you use this method to know when you ovulate, you should track your menstrual cycle for at least 6 months before trying to conceive. The calendar method of ovulation will take into account your first day of your last menstrual cycle, the average length of your cycle (generally not recommended for cycles less than 27 days) and the length of days past ovulation (luteal phase). The calendar method doesn’t just help you know when you ovulate, it can help you see trends and abnormalities in your monthly cycle.
The calendar method isn’t as reliable or accurate as the basal body temperature method, as research shows in Clearblue Digital Ovulation Test vs. the Calendar Method. If you have lots of time and don’t want to get pregnant right away, the calendar method is a good choice. But if you’re itching to have a baby, you might want to find more accurate way to know when you ovulate.
The basal body temperature method requires charting your basal body temperature over the length of your cycle. There is a change in your basal body temperature that will occur directly after ovulation and will continue to remain elevated until your next period. After you have charted your basal body temperature for a few cycles, you can look through them to determine the pattern of your basal body temperature when ovulation is expected or anticipated. To do this, take your temperature every morning using a basal thermometer (temperatures generally only escalate between 0.4 and 1 degree Fahrenheit when you ovulate). You will then record your temperature on a chart. It is recommended to take your temperature first thing in the morning and keep the time consistent each day.
The Clearblue Advanced Digital Ovulation Test is the most accurate way to predict when you ovulate.
During the first part of your cycle, your basal body temperature will be low. Right before you ovulate, your basal body temperature will drop even lower (ovulation) then spike over the next 10 days (luteal phase – the average is 10 days; a short luteal phase may make it more difficult to become pregnant). However, once it spikes you will most likely have ovulated, so it is recommended to begin intercourse when the drop in BBT is noticed. A general tip is that you will have ovulated whenever you see a spike in temperature of at least 0.4 degrees above the highest of your previous 6-7 days’ temperatures. Some women will not have a drop in temperature, so look for the spike and make note for the next month.
The cervical mucus method requires charting changes in your cervical mucus during your monthly menstrual cycle. Directly after your period, a series of dry mucus days will occur. However, when an egg ripens, the cervical mucus changes and may become yellow or white/cloudy and feel “sticky”. In general, you will have the most mucus just before ovulation when the mucus becomes clear and feels “slippery” (commonly referred to as “egg whites”). These mucus days are considered your most fertile days. The mucus will then become considerably less and appear cloudy/feel sticky again after approximately 4 days and then again dry just before your period. Many women will track their cervical mucus with their basal body temperature when they’re trying to figure out when they’re ovulating.
To learn more about determining when you ovulate so you can get pregnant, read How to Predict Your Fertile Window and Get Pregnant.