How to REALLY Tell If You’re Ovulating + Best Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM) To Track Ovulation
Chances are if you’re currently trying to conceive (TTC) you already know in order to do so you must have sex while ovulating.
But there’s SO much more to our ovulatory phase than just that, and the more you understand about your body and hormones during this critical fertility phase, the more action you’ll be able to take to naturally increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Here’s a cheat-sheet of how to tell if you’re REALLY ovulating with the most effective fertility awareness methods in order to increase your odds of getting pregnant naturally.
**Even if you’re not trying to get pregnant, the more intimately you know your body and its cycles, the more easily you can recognize that something is amiss.
Your ovulatory phase typically occurs between days 12-17 of your cycle. It’s referred to as the inner “summer” phase of your cycle, when your egg is released from the ovary. This phase is short, usually only lasting about two to three days. Right before ovulation, there’s a surge of luteinizing hormone, LH, which causes the dominant follicle to burst open and release its egg into the fallopian tube. The egg will be viable for roughly 12-24 hours, and if it’s not fertilized by sperm, it will disintegrate.
Action Step: I like to use the @myflo app to track which day/phase I’m at in my cycle. It’s important to know most apps use a rhythm method based on averages in your cycle, so they’re only as good as the information you give them. This is why the more fertility awareness methods you can understand and use, the better!
When you’re ovulating, the cervix moves up higher, and becomes more soft, wet and open. These changes enable only the fittest sperm to survive the long journey up the cervix, through the uterus, and up one of the fallopian tubes (i.e. weeding out any unhealthy sperm so that only the healthiest can reach a healthy egg).
After ovulation, during your luteal phase, your cervix will typically feel firm, low and closed.
Action Step: You can use your finger to indicate the softness and height of your cervix. Make sure to wash your hands before checking and aim to check the same time each day. You can record this in most cycle tracking apps.
Cervical fluid is completely normal and a part of a healthy cycle. It changes in consistency and color throughout the month as our hormone levels fluctuate, which can be really helpful in tracking our cycle. The closer we get to ovulation, the more wet and stretchy our cervical mucus becomes, similar to egg whites. This is considered fertile cervical mucus, as its texture enables the sperm to both swim and survive.
Action Step: Pay attention to your cervical mucus, as it should shift during each phase of your cycle, helping you to track where you’re at (no CM = menstruation, creamy + wet CM = follicular, clear + stretchy = ovulatory, sticky + tacky = luteal). You can easily record this in most cycle tracking apps.
BASAL BODY TEMPERATURE
Your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) is your body temperature upon waking. From menstruation to ovulation your BBT will typically be lower, between 97.0 -97.7. Right after ovulation, your BBT will rise slightly (typically above 97.8F) and remain higher for the rest of your cycle. This is due to the increase in hormone progesterone, which stimulates the growth of your uterine lining in order to prepare for pregnancy. If not pregnant, your progesterone will drop once you menstruate and your BBT will dip with it as well.
Action Step: In order to track your BBT, you’ll need to take your temperature at the same time each morning before getting out of bed. There are really helpful tools to help you track your temperature, including Kindara, Tempdrop and Daysy Fertility Tracker. Additionally, you can record these in your tracking app or a chart like the one pictured above.
Levels of confidence, energy and mood-boosting estrogen and testosterone are at their peak during the ovulatory phase. Women often report looking and feeling more attractive during this time, and their sex drive tends to be highest. After all, the body is programmed to maximize genetic potential, so naturally it will get you in the mood to get it on during your window for fertility.
Action Step: Use your app, journal or cycle tracking method of choice to record energy, mood, confidence and libido levels each day.
OVULATION PREDICTOR KITS
Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPK’s) detect luteinizing hormone (LH), which surges right before ovulation. The problem with only using OPK’s is that they can only predict ovulation, but cannot confirm it actually happened.
This is because when LH spikes, it sends a message to your ovaries to release an egg, which typically takes 24-36 hours for the egg to then be released. An LH spike doesn’t guarantee ovulation because many things like stress, a hormone imbalance or illness can still delay the eggs release, even after the LH surge. If this happens you’ll most likely get another LH surge later in your cycle. Additionally, LH tends to be consistently elevated in certain types of PCOS, leading to false positive OPK results.
That being said, OPK’s can still be helpful in detecting ovulation, but you’ll have the most success if you use them in combination with your body’s natural signs, like those mentioned above.
Action Step: Follow the instructions on your ovulation predictor kit. Most recommend using the same time each day (10 am – 2 pm) beginning two days after your period ends and everyday thereafter until ovulation for optimal results. Make sure to use in tandem with the methods listed above for the most accurate results.
Using fertility awareness methods like those listed above empowers you to accurately pinpoint your fertile window in order to optimize conception, as well as identify any underlying health issues or hormonal imbalances that may be interfering with your fertility.
If you’re not trying to get pregnant, developing awareness around your cycle is an incredibly powerful tool to understanding you body, hormones and unique strengths during each phase.
If you’re looking for more support to optimize a healthy cycle, naturally boost your fertility and balance your hormones in order to feel and look your best, check out my Hormone Balance Reset Plan, a phase-by-phase guide with recipes, grocery lists, supplements, movement and lifestyle tips.
- CYCLE-SYNCING GUIDE — A Cheatsheet To Understanding + Supporting Your Monthly Menstrual Cycle - May 28, 2020
- How to REALLY Tell If You’re Ovulating + Best Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM) To Track Ovulation - May 21, 2020
- How To Make A Fertility-Boosting Smoothie + Dark Chocolate Strawberry Fudge Smoothie Bowl Recipe - May 13, 2020