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!
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.