Ovulation Symptoms: 9 Signs of Ovulation

  • Ovulation is when you are most fertile and usually occurs halfway through your menstrual cycle.
  • Ovulation symptoms include spotting, pain and changes in cervical mucus and body temperature.
  • Follow signs of ovulation using a calendar or application to determine when you are most fertile.

Knowing when you are ovulating – when your ovaries are releasing an ovum – can help you determine what is best for getting pregnant or avoiding unprotected sex.

Ovulation, which usually occurs four days before or after halfway through your menstrual cycle, lasts only 12 to 24 hours. However, sperm can live inside the female reproductive system for five days. This is why three to five days before or on the day of ovulation is considered your fertile window.

But ovulation differs from person to person, so it’s important to track your body’s symptoms month by month to better understand when you ovulate.

Here are nine symptoms of ovulation, which occur due to elevated levels of hormones, specifically estrogen, during this time.

1. Clear, stretchable secretion

Your vaginal discharge, also known as your cervical mucus, will usually be clear, stretchy, wet and smooth during ovulation, says Aparna Sridhar, MD, MPH, a gynecologist at UCLA Health.

2. Light spots

Some people may experience spotting while ovulating, Sridhar says, but it is important to detect it month by month because intermenstrual spotting can also be a sign of underlying health conditions, such as uterine fibroids, an infection or stress.

Spotting during ovulation usually lasts one to three days.

3. Increased libido

Some may experience increased sex drive before and during ovulation. This increase correlates with the rise of estrogen and the luteinizing hormone (LH), which controls the menstrual cycle and causes ovulation.

A 2004 review found that women had an increase in libido for six days around the time their LH rose. Another 2004 study found sex was 24% more frequent during the six days before ovulation than other days during the cycle.

4. Breastfeeding

Your breasts and nipples may feel tender, sore, swollen, or sensitive, says Jessika Ralph, MD, MSCI, a gynecologist and assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

5. Changes in body temperature

Just before your ovary releases the egg, your basal body temperature (BBT) will drop slightly. Then after ovulation, your temperature will rise by about half a degree. Tracking your BBT month to month will therefore help you predict better when you ovulate.

Mild cramps

Some people may experience cramping pain during ovulation, Sridhar says. The pain varies with some feeling cramps in their lower abdomen and others only feeling it on one side.

The unilateral pain, also known as mittelschmerz, reflects which ovary the ovary releases. These types of cramps are often normal and can last only a few minutes to a few days.

7. Changes in saliva

A few days before and during ovulation, dried saliva under a microscope will change from random clumps of buds and spots to a fern-shaped pattern, Ralph says. This is due to the increase in estrogen near the time of ovulation, which changes salivary consistency.

However, you will need a microscope to notice the pattern difference.

8. An increased sense of smell

In some cases, people have slightly elevated senses, such as smell or taste, during ovulation. The cause is not fully understood and studies have been contradictory, but it does appear that senses are somehow linked to the reproductive system.

One 2013 study compared odor sensitivity during ovulation and thereafter between women who did not

birth control

and those who use oral contraceptives (which stop ovulation). Those who were not on birth control were significantly more sensitive to odors such as lemon, peppermint and the male hormones pheromones, androstenone and androsterone than those on contraceptives.

9. Softened cervix

Normally, when you are not ovulating, your cervix feels like a firm, round tip, says Ralph, kind of like the tip of your nose. But when you ovulate, your cervix will soften, rise, and feel more like the softer part of the roof of your mouth.

You can check your cervix yourself by placing your finger in your vagina and feeling for it, says Ralph. The cervix sits at an angle at the end of the vagina, usually about 3 to 7 inches deep, depending on the person.

Insider takeaways

Ovulation usually occurs halfway through your menstrual cycle, but can vary for each person.

To best follow your ovulation schedule, there are a few symptoms to keep in mind, such as clear, stretchy discharge, body temperature, and breastfeeding. The best time to try to conceive is before or during ovulation.

You can also map ovulation with a calendar or take a urine test to better understand your time of month. But if you have any concerns about your schedule, it is a good idea to contact a fertility specialist or an OB-GYN.

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