Whether you are trying to conceive or actively trying to avoid it, it is important to monitor your ovulation. Determining the dates of that short period of time when your ovaries release an egg helps you understand your cycle and find out when you have the best chance of getting pregnant, or knowing when to have sex avoid reducing your chances of pregnancy. This is just as important to do if you are experiencing health issues related to your menstrual cycle as it can help to discover what is happening and how to treat it.
While tracking ovulation is used as a form of birth control – also called the fertility awareness method – it is more risky than some others. There are several different types of FAMs, but collectively they are approximately 76% to 88% effective when used perfectly, depending on the exact method (more on that below). This means that if you use FAM as your only birth control pill, you have a significantly higher risk of getting pregnant than using hormonal birth control pills (99% effective), but about the same as using only condoms (85% effective).
Read on for everything you need to know about ovulation and how to detect it.
What is ovulation?
According to the American Pregnancy Association, ovulation occurs “when an adult egg is released from the ovary, the fallopian tube is pushed down and … made available to be fertilized.”
A normal menstrual cycle lasts about 28 to 32 days, and most people ovulate between Day 11 and Day 21 of their menstrual cycle. Ovulation itself only lasts 12 to 48 hours, but you can possibly be fertile for up to seven days after the egg is released.
During ovulation, changes take place in your body to support pregnancy: Your body temperature rises, the uterine lining thickens and cervical fluid changes.
How do I know if I am ovulating?
Many people do not notice any signs of ovulation unless they look specifically at it. If you are monitoring signs of ovulation, you may notice:
- Light spots (not everyone experiences this)
- Slight pain on one side of your abdomen
- Changes in dismissal
- Chest tenderness
- Increased libido
Do you need to track ovulation?
The short answer: It depends on what you want and need. If you are trying to get pregnant, tracking your ovulation can help you get pregnant.
“A person can only get pregnant if they have unprotected sex five days before ovulation, plus up to 24 hours after ovulation. It is actually a relatively short time frame,” Nicole Telfer, naturopathic doctor and science content producer at Clue, told CNET said .
And even then, an adult egg lives only 12 to 24 hours after it is released from the ovaries, so try to have sex inside that window if fertilization is the goal.
On the other hand, you may want to consider avoiding sex during this period – in addition to use of birth control – to increase your chances of avoiding unwanted pregnancies.
“For those who are not ready for a baby, tracking ovulation is a great way to know when to be extra careful,” Janell Sanford, Favor pharmacist in charge, told CNET. “And maybe double down on hormonal and non-hormonal contraceptives to prevent you from getting pregnant.”
Regardless of your goals, it is important to remember that ovulation does not occur at exactly the same time and can change from cycle to cycle, Telfer said.
In addition to getting pregnant or preventing it, here are some other reasons keeping an eye on your ovulation can be beneficial.
Irregular cycles can indicate reproductive health problems
Keeping an eye on your ovulation can warn you that something is off. Irregular cycles can indicate conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, pelvic inflammatory disease and endometriosis. Irregular cycles can also indicate a hormone imbalance, specifically with estrogen or progesterone.
Monitoring ovulation can help discover the cause of unexplained symptoms
Symptoms such as acne breakouts, moodiness, insomnia, weight fluctuations and extreme fatigue – especially if it seems sudden and random – can all stem from your cycle.
“More than just our ovaries and uterus respond to these hormonal changes [during the cycle]”Some people notice changes in their hair, skin, buttocks, breasts, chronic disease symptoms, mental health, migraine headaches or the way they experience sex at different points in the menstrual cycle.”
Telfer, for example, said that some people notice that their hair and skin are less oily around the time of ovulation, and get oilier closer to their period. Other people may experience premenstrual mood swings that may negatively affect them during the second half of their cycle.
It can help you know when your period will start
If you are struggling with irregular cycles, tracking ovulation can be a helpful tool for understanding your monthly patterns – it can even help you know when to expect your period.
“It’s helpful to know when to expect Aunt Flo,” Sanford said. “It can help you to be prepared and filled with tampons or pads in the bathroom, backpack or purse, and great for keeping extras in the car. It’s also great to know if your period is coming on a weekend that is planned. to spend time in your swimming trunks, on a camping trip or on a first date. ”
How to detect ovulation
Depending on how frequent your cycles are and how accurate you need to be in your detection technique, you can track ovulation in several ways. Here are four options to try out:
1. Use a calendar. The calendar method is easy, but usually only works if you have a very regular cycle. You will actually keep track of your period, not ovulation, but if you know when your period occurs, you can do the math and determine when you are likely to ovulate.
There are many great applications for period tracking out there, including Flo Period Tracker, Clue (which has an Irregular Cycles feature to help you recognize symptoms of reproductive disorders), and the iPhone’s Health application, along with Cycle Tracking application that works with View OS 6.
2. Graph your basal body temperature. Your basal body temperature is the temperature of your body before you start moving – think of it as your “resting” body temperature, just as your basal metabolic rate is essentially the same as your resting metabolic rate.
To determine your body’s basal temperature, take your temperature in the morning before getting out of bed. Yes, that means keeping a thermometer next to your bed. Write down your temperature every day, and you should see an increase in temperature when you start ovulating.
3. Use an ovulation predictor set. Ovulation predictor kits are similar to home pregnancy tests. They analyze urine for luteinizing hormone, which indicates ovulation. An increase in LH is a good sign that you will ovulate in the next 12 to 36 hours, so it is a good idea to have sex in the next few days if you is trying to get pregnant.
These tests come in kits because you will have to take one a few days in a row for the most accurate prediction. Mira makes a more advanced version of these kits that uses a small device and a connected application to provide more insights.
4. Wear a fertility monitor. Portable fertility tracers are relatively new in the health-portable market, but there are already a surprisingly large number of options.
The Ava bracelet works by tracking your skin temperature, resting heart rate, breathing rate and other measures while you sleep. The company says it recognizes more fertile days of the month than a traditional ovulation predictor can.
Tempdrop records your skin temperatures through the night and uses an algorithm to calculate your basal body temperature. This makes it a good substitute for traditional body basal temperature mapping.
The Ovusense tracker is a little more intrusive, but possibly more accurate. You put it vaginally before going to bed and remove it in the morning. While you sleep, the device reads your body’s core temperature every 5 minutes.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider about any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.