If you’re trying to get pregnant (or not get pregnant), knowing exactly when you’re ovulating is the key to timing when you try. There’s no need to involve a fertility clinic — you can detect ovulation naturally at home. While it might seem like a daunting task, there are ways to track your ovulation cycle without professional intervention.
You may already know your body’s tells for ovulation. You may get tender breasts, a twinge of pain known as Mittelschmerz, increased sexual desire, or other signs personal to you that you’ve noticed. These may not be exact or you may not experience them, so the five methods below will offer you a much more specific timeframe on when your ovulation occurs. Yet, it never hurts to get a professional look from experts. As fertility expert and registered nurse, Rachel Gurevich wrote for VeryWell Family, there are many options to monitor your own ovulation schedule.
Use an app to track your period. They will automatically predict your next ovulation date and the fertile window around it. There are also charts you can use with paper and pencil, but the apps are mostly free and calculate all of your past cycles in to make the most accurate predictions they can. You can even use multiple apps at once to take the average of their predictions if you want a more accurate number. Learn about four popular ones here.
Basal body temperature
Your basal body temperate (BBT) is your body’s resting temperature. Your BBT dips slightly right before ovulation, so if you check your BBT every day you can notice this dip as a sign of ovulation.
Take your temperature every morning and note it in a chart, either on paper or in an app like the ones mentioned above. You must stay as still as possible to ensure you take your temperature before getting out of bed. Right before ovulation, the BBT will be slightly lower and then the next day it will slightly rise. For a few days after the egg releases, the BBT will remain slightly elevated. These differences are often less than one degree so charting for a long time to know how much of a change is normal is important.
The change in temperature is so slight that you need to use a basal thermometer, a type that shows temperature in tenths of a degree. If you’re using apps to track your period, tracking this information in the same app can help make the prediction even more accurate.
Ovulation predictor kits
No need to wait until you might be pregnant to start peeing on a stick! An ovulation predictor kit (OPK) is a little stick just like a pregnancy test that detects a hormone in your urine. Instead of detecting a pregnancy hormone, it detects an ovulation hormone (to put it simply).
Now, be careful with reading these. Just like pregnancy tests, there are different versions. Digital ones may give you smiley faces to indicate you are ovulating, but the traditional ones will have a control line and then a second line that will either not appear (a negative test) or will appear (a positive test). With a pregnancy, any second line (no matter how faint), is a positive. With an OPK, how dark the second line matters a lot.
The second line, which detects the presence of the hormone that indicates you’re about to ovulate, will get darker and darker for a few days until it is just as dark as the control line. If you are waiting for your once chance to try like insemination, you want to wait until the very peak fertility and not go for it when you see the second line for the first time. You don’t ovulate the moment you see the peak positive test on an OPK — that indicates that you are about to ovulate. You will likely ovulate in 12-36 hours after the positive test, on average 24 hours.
You can use this method in conjunction with the methods above or on its own to pinpoint the moment of ovulation.
Not to be TMI, but your discharge also changes throughout your cycle, and at your most fertile time around ovulation, it gets a consistency like egg whites. The clear and sticky discharge is another natural ovulation predictor and lasts for 2-3 days in your fertile time.
This is a unique test where you look at some of your saliva on a glass slide under a tiny microscope. When your estrogen increases around the time of ovulation, your dried saliva makes a ferning pattern when looked at under the microscope. Strange as it sounds, it can really work. When you’re not fertile, the saliva won’t look like anything, just some bubbles. The patterns only appear (and will appear more and more) when your estrogen increases. Once you buy the microscope device once, you can use it unlimited times by cleaning off the saliva.
Remember that sperm can live for up to five days in the body and you can get pregnant for 12-24 hours after ovulation, so your fertile period is approximately the five days before ovulation, the day of ovulation, and the day after ovulation — one week total. With these five methods to guide you, you can predict sometimes to the range of just a few hours when you ovulate.
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