How To Track Your Ovulation Most Accurately, According To Ob-Gyns

If you want to get pregnant, you may have heard at some point that tracking ovulation is a valuable tool. But, since Sex Ed is kind of an awkward blur, you probably have some questions about exactly how to detect ovulation.

Let’s back up a second: Ovulation is what happens when your ovaries release an egg. Ovulation usually occurs in the middle of your menstrual cycle, which will be 14 days before the start of your period. as you have an average cycle of 28 days, according to the Mayo Clinic.

That said, not everyone has a 28-day cycle, so your ovulation point may be very different from your bestie’s and even your sister’s. In fact, it is possible to ovulate anywhere from day 11 to day 21 of your cycle, according to the American Pregnancy Association.

Why does it matter? To make a baby, you need to meet your egg with your partner’s sperm. So, you want to make things so timely that there is actually an egg waiting to be fertilized when you have sex.

“Keeping track of your ovulation can help you find the time when you are most likely to be successful in conceiving,” says Iris Insogna, MD, director of Columbia University Fertility Center. “Otherwise, it can be difficult to know when the most effective timing for your efforts may be. It can put extra stress and strain on what may already be an anxiety-inducing situation.”

This can be very helpful for heterosexual couples trying to conceive, says Dr. Insogna. “For single women or those in same-sex relationships, it can also be important for the timing of home inseminations with donor sperm,” she adds.

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Not everyone has symptoms during ovulation, but you may have some, says Jessica Walter, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Northwestern Medicine. “During ovulation, a follicle — fluid-filled sac — breaks open in the ovary to release the egg inside,” she explains. “This process can lead to some bleeding and release of inflammatory fluid in the stomach from the rupture follicle.”

When this happens, you may have mild bloating, cramps, pelvic pain, soft chest or changes in your secretion. “Cervical mucus around the time of ovulation is often characterized as like ‘egg whites’, as it becomes smooth and stretchy in consistency and bright in color,” says Dr. Walter.

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When to start tracking ovulation

Again, ovulation usually happens on day 14 of your cycle but everyone’s cycle is different. As a result, when you need to start tracking your ovulation really depends on the length of your cycle, says dr. Insogna.

“If you have a typical 28-day cycle, it’s a good idea to detect ovulation around day 10,” she says. “Just to make sure you don’t miss it.” If your cycle length is shorter than that, you may want to start tracking earlier, such as day six or seven, to make sure you are not missing your fertile window, she says.

How to accurately detect ovulation

You have a surprisingly large number of options for detecting ovulation. Here are the adults:

Get ovulation predictor kits.

      “Ovulation predictor kits are the most reliable method for women with regular cycles — and I highly recommend them,” says Dr. Insogna. They usually work by detecting a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH), which causes ovulation, in your pee. When that surge occurs, ovulation will follow shortly thereafter. “Ovulation usually occurs 14 to 26 hours after the detection of the LH surge and almost always within 48 hours,” says Alexa Sassin, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine / Texas Children’s.

      Ovulation predictor kits are the most reliable method for women with regular cycles.

      But, she notes, they do not work for * all * women, especially those with a high baseline level of LH, which can happen in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or in women with a reduced ovarian reserve.

      2. Use the calendar method.

      The calendar method is pretty simple: You just calculate your average cycle length and assume you are ovulating at the center. Although it is cheaper than testing your pee every month, it is not necessarily the most reliable. “However, this method may not be accurate, as many women have cycle variables that are not taken into account in calendar calculations,” says Kjersti Aagaard, MD, PhD, professor in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine / Texas Children’s.

      3. Try an ovulation and period tracking application.

      Ovulation detection applications use the same concepts to detect ovulation and period cycle length as the calendar method – they just remove the whole math thing for you. “Some of the applications may apply an algorithm to help predict ovulation based on personal information entered into the application,” says Dr. Sassin. However, the accuracy of such predictions remains unclear, she adds. Noticed!

      If you are reluctant to put your health data into an application due to uncertainty surrounding privacy practices, you may prefer to use the paper calendar method to track your cycle.

      4. Monitor basal body temperature.

      Your basal body temperature (or BBT) “is your body temperature when you are fully at rest,” says Lauren Demosthenes, MD, senior medical director of Babyscripts. “In most women, the body’s normal temperature increases slightly during ovulation (0.5–1 ° F) and remains high until the end of the menstrual cycle,” she explains. “The most fertile days are the two to three days before this increase in temperature.”

      However, it does require a bit of legwork on your part: You will need to measure your temperature each morning after waking up, before doing anything (including getting out of bed or drinking water). Then record your daily temperature and if you have an increase, you are probably ovulating, says dr. Demosthenes.

      It’s a little difficult. “This method cannot be used to predict ovulation. BBT can rather only predict that ovulation has probably taken place, ”says dr. Sassin. Got this.

      5. Check your cervical mucus.

      Some women have an increase in cervical mucus or vaginal discharge in the five to seven days before ovulation, says Dr. Aagaard. “This increase in cervical mucus is due to fluctuations in ovarian hormones,” she explains. “During this time, it is noticed that the cervical mucus is more abundant, thin, smooth and stretchable.”

      When you get that egg white consistency, you’ll probably ovulate. “Before ovulation, the mucus is more watery and smooth, which indicates a good time to try to get pregnant,” says Dr. Demosthenes. “After ovulation, the mucus becomes thicker and tougher due to progesterone. It makes pregnancy more difficult. ”

      Infallible? No. But “some women are tuned in to their cervical mucus and can use it to help with timing of intercourse,” says Dr. Demosthenes.

      6. Try saliva experience.

      Saliva experience predicts ovulation by looking at the patterns formed by the saliva in your mouth. “When the hormone estrogen increases near ovulation, dried saliva can form a fern-shaped pattern,” says Dr. Aagaard.

      This method can be performed at home with a microscope, but may not work for all women, she notes. Some medications can alter your saliva, making it especially difficult, she says. Do you really want to get a microscope too? You may be better off using some of the other methods here.

      How long does it take to get pregnant after you start tracking?

      Experts agree that this is a very difficult one to answer, as factors such as your age, reproductive health and your partner’s reproductive health all play a role in your ability to conceive.

      “About 80 percent of families or individuals will become pregnant in the first six to nine months of attempting pregnancy, with the probability of pregnancy greatest in the first three months,” says Dr. Sassin. “Family planning studies have shown that the likelihood of pregnancy is greatest when intercourse or insemination occurs the day before ovulation.”

      But, again, it’s all changeable and individual. If you have been trying to get pregnant with regular sex for a year and you are younger than 35, dr. Demosthenes to talk to your doctor. And if you are over 35, it is recommended that you check in earlier — at six months.

      Meet the experts:

      Iris Insogna, managing director, specializes in obstetrics and gynecology, reproductive endocrinology / infertility at Columbia University Fertility Center.

      Jessica Walter, MD, is a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Northwestern Medicine.
      Lauren Demosthenes, MD, is an ob-gyn at the University of South Carolina, School of Medicine Greenville, as well as the senior medical director at Babyscripts, a virtual maternity care platform.

      Alexa Sassin, MD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine / Texas Children’s.

      Kjersti Aagaard, MD, PhD, is a professor in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine / Texas Children’s.

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