When trying for a baby, ovulation is the main event that has to occur. It’s even more important than the timing of intercourse for increasing your chances of conceiving. But so many of us still aren’t clued up on ovulation, constantly wondering when it happens and trying to figure out the signs.
That’s where I come in. As a nutritionist and fertility expert, I know the ins-and-outs of ovulation, and you can too. So I’ve put together a guide to everything you need to know about identifying your six fertile days and what you can do to ensure you’re ovulating.
When can you expect to ovulate?
Understanding your own monthly cycle is the first step towards knowing when you can expect to ovulate. We know that women are fertile for six days every cycle, five consecutive days leading up to ovulation and the one day of ovulation when you release an egg = six consecutive days.
Although the length of everyone’s period is different, follow these five steps to identify your own regular pattern of ovulation:
- Look at the dates of your last period
- Count backwards 14 days from the first day of your last period
- Around this point is when you’re likely to have ovulated (in your last cycle)
- It’s expected that your luteal phase (day one after ovulation to the day before your period started) is roughly around 10-16 days
- However, the time between the first day of your period and the start of your luteal phase can vary massively (which is normal!).
📝 For example, if the first day of my last period was the 1st of August, I would expect ovulation to have occurred around the 18th July (14 days prior). The 14 days between these dates is my luteal phase and my 6 fertile days started from 14th July to 19th July (the day after ovulation).
Physical signs that you’re about to ovulate
Now you know when you’re likely to ovulate, you need to get clued up on what the signs of ovulation are. Here are the 3 main signs your body is showing you as you come up to ovulation:
Cervical mucus (CM) or cervical fluid
Essentially, this is vaginal discharge that your body produces as you are leading up to ovulation. You’ll notice CM when you wipe or in your underwear throughout the day. Not the sexiest of signs, but an essential one to understand if you’re trying to conceive. On the days leading up to ovulation you should start to notice a clear, stretchy, raw egg-like cervical mucus. This is a sign that you’re in your fertile period.
Side note – if you notice cervical mucus for a long time during your cycle, this doesn’t mean that you’re fertile for this whole time. Remember, your fertile days are the five days leading up to ovulation and the one day from ovulation = six consecutive days in total. What you might be experiencing is high levels of estrogen. This is why I highly recommend tracking CM and taking your BBT so you can see the true fertile days of your cycle.
Tracking your BBT
Basal body temperature is your internal temperature, taken when you first wake up in the morning. It’s taken with a digital thermometer, placed under your tongue and held for 5-10 seconds whilst you wait for a reading. Start tracking your temperature from when you see CM signs as this will also help to confirm if you have ovulated.
Changing of hormones
Another sign that for most people trying to conceive are all too familiar with is the LH surge. Luteinising hormone is the sex hormone that ovulation sticks or digital ovulation monitors are testing for. LH is the hormone that signals to your ovarian follicle to release an egg – pretty essential if you’re going to ovulate each month. Using test strips for this can be a good visual indicator that your LH is rising, the darker the line = the more luteinising hormone is being produced. Keep taking the tests from when you start to see your fertile mucus and once you see the darkest line compared to previous tests, it’s likely that ovulation will occur within the next 1-2 days.
How to tell if you have ovulated
As soon as ovulation occurs, this triggers the release of the hormone progesterone. Rising progesterone automatically increases body temperature and there you have another sign that you have ovulated. When you notice that your BBT has increased by at least 0.30C and temperature continues to remain above this elevated range until the first day of your next period, then you can be pretty sure you ovulated that month.
We’re not looking for a huge rise in temperature, but you might start to notice that you don’t reach for an extra pair of socks in the few days after ovulation (or you might not notice at all!), but just this small rise in BBT can be enough to indicate that you have ovulated.
For example, if the day before you ovulated your BBT was around 36.20C and then it rises to 36.50C (or above) and stays at this higher temperature (or rises) for at least 3 days then you can be pretty sure you have ovulated. Pretty cool right!
So there you have it, a whistle stop tour of how you can become the master of your monthly cycle. Whether you are trying to conceive or just wanting to be sure that you have a healthy ovulatory menstrual cycle, start looking out for those all important signs of your fertile window leading to the main event of ovulation.