If you’re trying to get pregnant, you need to know when you are most fertile. Here are five signs of ovulation, written by a blogger who knows what she’s talking about! How do I know? Because she’s currently pregnant 🙂
“I first researched fertility and ovulation after we miscarried our first child,” says Nathana Clay. “Fortunately, I did not have to wade through pages of online articles or stacks of books before I found a reliable resource. Our midwife recommended Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health by Toni Weschler, MPH.”
In this book, Toni Weschler covers a wide variety of topics from charting, to natural birth control and conception. I found the most beneficial information she supplied was on recognizing the signs of ovulation. After all, ovulation is what allows us to conceive – or avoid pregnancy.
5 Ways to Know When You Are Most Fertile
by Nathana Clay
In her book, Weschler outlines five ways to identify and track ovulation. I began paying close attention to these things after our miscarriage and we became pregnant again in just a couple months. We are now 19 weeks into a healthy pregnancy! First, a quick quip I really enjoy:
“Have you noticed that everything goes totally kooky at certain times of the month? Like THAT time of the month? You know that time—the time you’re ovulating. It’s like suddenly you drop down a rabbit hole and into Alice’s surreal wonderland. Everyone you make eye contact with starts macking on you. You’re suddenly attracted to bearded guys who wear leather, have tattoos, and carry brass knuckles. Oh, and you begin voting strangely. Like you were all set to vote for Romney up until your egg dropped and then it was like, Obama will save the world! I know. SO WEIRD. But it’s alllll backed up by science, people.” – Kiri Blakeley, 7 Funny Things That (Supposedly) Happen to You When You’re Ovulating on thestir.cafemom.com.
While science does back up many of the crazy emotions and moods we experience during ovulation, there are five physical ways to know when you ovulate and learn when are you most fertile.
Waking (Basal Body) Temperature
Basal body temperature means your waking temperature before you even get out of bed. For the sake of accuracy, it is important to try to take your temperature around the same time every day. If you are tracking your waking body temperature on a chart, when your temperature increases, and stays increased, that means ovulation has already occurred. Estrogen keeps preovulatory temperature lower, but progesterone, which causes heat, keeps postovulatory temperatures higher. Charting your waking body temperature is a great tool for predicting ovulation if you have tracked it over a few months. This allows you to see the pattern of how many days after your period ovulation has ended.
For example, if your ovulation has ended 20 days after your last period for the past three months, you can predict that you are ovulating 15-19 days after your period. Fortunately, since this method of learning the signs of ovulation takes some long-term tracking to be effective, there are ways you can physically tell if your body is ovulating right now.
While this sign of ovulation sounds gross, and is a bit unpleasant at times, it is the one I have always found most reliable. Many women fear that they are suffering from a vaginal infection, when really they are just ovulating. Cervical fluid or “discharge” can be one of the easiest and most effective ways to identify ovulation. Cervical fluid during ovulation provides nourishment and mobility to men’s semen allowing their sperm to travel up to your egg. After menstruation, cervical fluid is pretty much non-existent. Then it will turn pasty, then smooth, then slippery and stretchy, and then back to non-existent before menstruation again. The most fertile stage is when the cervical fluid resembles raw egg white, is slippery, and stretchy. Usually at this stage, you will feel noticeably wet and lubricated in your vagina. (It is important to note, that when you are aroused, that wetness comes from elsewhere and is not cervical fluid. This is not an answer to the “when are you most fertile” question.)
When you notice a slippery, stretchy, sometimes streaked or opaque vaginal sensation that means you are most likely ovulating. Right before menstruation, this fluid will sometimes turn watery, denoting that your body is beginning to shed your uterine lining.
After learning about this sign of ovulation, my life made so much more sense! I had always been confused why three years ago my doctor, doing a pap smear, looked at my cervical fluid and said, “Is it around two weeks after your last period?” “Yes . . .” I replied knowing nothing about fertility. “Alright, you are quite fertile! Let’s put you on a prenatal vitamin!” “But, I am on birth control.” “Things can happen anyway!” She responded. Most likely, she was taking note of my copious “fertile fluid” and the position of my cervix.
If you aren’t comfortable tracking your cervical fluide, read 3 Types of Ovulation Predictor Kits and How They Work. It will help you learn how to know when you are most fertile.
Once again, this is not always the most enjoyable way to check for ovulation, but it is accurate. It is also why sometimes sex is more or less comfortable. The lower hanging cervix can crowd how deep a man’s penis can go and can create slight discomfort for the woman. Right before or after menstruation, your cervix will be firm, low, closed, and not wet. However, during ovulation your cervix opens up to welcome sperm and drop the egg. When you are most fertile it will be soft, high, open, and wet. If you are so interested, you can easily feel the state of your cervix by inserting your fingertips into your vagina. When you are not nearing ovulation or ovulating, it will feel firm, somewhat like your nose. When you are fertile, it will feel more soft and open, like your lips. This is when you are most fertile.
Charting Ovulation Patterns
While checking your cervical fluid and the position of your cervix can let you know when you are ovulating, charting is a great way to track patterns that are happening in your body. Older birth control methods, like the rhythm method assume all women ovulate at the same point in their cycle. However, the length of a woman’s cycle can vary from woman to woman, as can when their ovulation occurs. This is completely normal. Charting can help you determine how long your cycle is and how many days into it you ovulate. It can also help you figure out the weird months where your cycle is off due to stress or illness.
Secondary Fertility Signs
These secondary fertility signs of ovulation are not as reliable and vary from woman to woman; however, some of them may be the best sign for you when identifying ovulation. They include mid-cycle spotting, tenderness or sensitivity in your breasts or skin, heightened senses, pain or aching near the ovaries (some women can actually feel when their body releases an egg), increased sexual desire, fuller vaginal lips, water retention, bloating, and increased energy. If you are experiencing smooth, stretchy cervical fluid accompanied by one or more of these secondary signs, you can easily conclude that it is either time to take your spouse to bed (because this is when are you most fertile) or avoid sex for a few days, depending on whether you wish to conceive or not.
If you have any thoughts on how to know when you are most fertile, please comment below. We can’t offer medical or health advice, but stories about signs of ovulation are always welcome!
Nathana Clay writes at her blog The Engaged Home about nurturing learning and faith in the home, as well as other home-based topics. She also works alongside her husband in youth ministry. They live in Glendale, AZ and are expecting to expand their engaged home this coming April.
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Resource: Weschler, Toni, MPH. Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Rev. ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. Print.