Whether you’re thinking about starting a family of your own or you want to keep track of your fertility as a form of contraception, it’s pretty likely that this isn’t the first time you’ve heard the word ovulation - the term used to describe when the egg is released from the ovary and the time every month when you’re considered most fertile.
Like plenty of aspects of our health and wellbeing, each woman’s menstrual cycle is different. According to the NHS, the average is usually every 28 days but cycles can vary anywhere between 21 to 40 days . And while research suggests that women ovulate around day 14, this too can differ and ovulation can even occur at different times each month. Sound complex? Don’t worry! Knowing the signs of ovulation and ovulation symptoms can help you stay in tune with your cycle and get to know your unique fertile days.
Some common ovulation signs and symptoms include:
- Cervical mucus
- Change in basal body temperature
- Change in libido
- Breast tenderness
Related article: Five Things to Avoid When Trying to Conceive
How do you know if you’re ovulating?
There are so many ways to get an idea of when you’re ovulating - from ovulation predictor kits to ovulation tracking apps. Still, knowing just some of the common signs to look out for that may indicate that you’re ovulating is also a great way to get to know your individual cycle. Remember, in an average menstrual cycle of 28 days, usually ovulation occurs about 14 days before your next period starts.
Just before ovulation, you might notice a clear, slippery consistency, or wet cervical mucus (similar to an egg white) - it’s suggested that this helps the sperm travel to the cervix and fertilize the egg that has been released. According to the Mayo Clinic, after ovulation, this mucus decreases and becomes thicker, cloudy, and not as noticeable .
Change in basal body temperature
Your basal body temperature (BBT) is the temperature of your body at rest. During ovulation, this temperature increases slightly. It’s recommended to track your body temperature using a thermometer designed to measure BBT every morning before you get out of bed. Tracking this over a series of months will give you the chance to spot any potential patterns which can give you an idea of when you’re most fertile.
Change in libido
Have you noticed that there is a certain time during the month when your sex drive is higher than usual? That might just be a sign of ovulation. Estrogen, which is high during the days that lead up to ovulation, is usually the cause of this shift in libido.
Breast pain and tenderness are almost nearly always a result of a fluctuation in hormones and according to John Hopkins Medicine, some women begin to experience the pain around the time of ovulation . Sometimes referred to as ‘ovulation pain’, this pain can continue until your menstrual cycle begins.
Other common ovulation symptoms can include heightened sense, mild abdominal pain, nausea, or headaches.
How do you know if you’re not ovulating?
If you notice that your menstrual cycle is quite long or short, you are experiencing irregular periods or you are not having periods at all, it may mean that you’re not ovulating and may have an ovulation disorder such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hypothalamic dysfunction, premature ovarian failure, or too much prolactin.
Remember, your body gives you certain hints when ovulation is close and it does the same thing if you’re not ovulating. Keep an eye on your cervical mucus, which might remain dry if you haven’t ovulated, and keep track of your cycle - a sudden change could suggest that you’re not ovulating.
Of course, one of the most reliable ways to know if you’re not ovulating is by taking an ovulation test or an ovarian reserve test. This can be done from home with LetsGetChecked or by visiting your doctor.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, thinking about pregnancy down the line, or are interested in knowing more about your hormone levels, you should consider taking a female fertility test.
LetsGetChecked’s range of Female Fertility Tests offers a comprehensive insight into your hormones, providing you with a clear idea of your fertility status. Online results will be available to you within 5 days as well as a follow-up with one of our dedicated nurses to discuss your results and the next steps.
The sample for our home fertility tests and hormone test must be collected on Day 3 of your menstrual cycle to ensure accurate results. The third day of your menstrual cycle refers to the third day of blood flow during your period.
It is important that no hormonal birth control is being taken when you use the test, as the results of this test may be affected.
Related article: How Do You Check Female Fertility From Home?