It would be amazing if getting pregnant were as simple as some make it seem. Have sex without birth-control and make a baby. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. In order to get pregnant, you must have sex in the days leading up to, and including ovulation.
What is Ovulation?
In simplistic terms, ovulation is when the female body releases a mature egg from an ovary. But in order to truly understand ovulation, we must dig a little deeper and gain a better understanding of the entire cycle. Your cycle begins on the first day of your menstrual period. This is called the follicular phase, and it is when your body prepares to release the egg. The follicle is like a protective shell that encapsulates your egg until it is ready to be released. Interestingly enough, you are born with all the follicles you will ever have, and development is controlled by hormones. Full development of each follicle takes a year and is done in many stages. The follicular phase ends with ovulation. Then comes the luteal phase, which proceeds until the end of your cycle (the day before your next menstrual period).
When the egg is released from the ovary, it begins its journey through the fallopian tube and towards the uterus. If the egg is fertilized by sperm on the way, it will implant into the lining of the uterus. If this happens, congratulations, you are pregnant. If it does not happen, your uterus will shed its lining in what we know as the menstrual period, and your cycle will begin again. The average female will go through this ovulation phase about 400 times in her life.
When do You Ovulate?
Most women tend to have predictable cycles and ovulate about 15 days before their next menstrual period, but there are many exceptions to this rule. Even women who typically have predictable cycles can be thrown off by things like stress or medication. This is why knowing the signs of ovulation is so important. Here is one bit of information that may help you understand your cycle better: The first part of your cycle, the follicular phase, is the part that is more likely to vary in length. Where as the second part of your cycle, the luteal phase, is more likely to remain consistent for you. It is not necessarily the same for all women, but it likely to be the same for you. This phase typically lasts 14 days.
Ovulation occurs between the follicular and luteal phases. So if your luteal phase is 14 days, you will ovulate 15 days before your next menstrual period. Your luteal phase may be longer or shorter, so adjust as necessary when you get a better understanding of your specific cycle.
Now, in terms of getting pregnant, the trick is figuring out when you ovulate. Fortunately, there are many signs that can tell you when you are most fertile. Familiarize yourself with these 12 signs of ovulation and you will greatly increase your chances of getting pregnant in any given cycle.
1. Basal Body Temperature Increase
Your basal body temperature (BBT) is your body’s lowest temperature, attained during rest. Charting your BBT can provide clues to when you ovulated. If you take it every morning, you will notice that it will remain lower before ovulation and rise after ovulation. At this time, it will increase by about 0.5 to 1.0 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cervical Mucus Changes
In the beginning of your cycle, your cervical mucus will be dry or non-existent. When you are getting ready to ovulate, it will gradually increase and change in texture until it becomes the consistency of raw egg white. This is called Egg White Cervical Mucus (EWCM) and it is a good indication that you are fertile.
3. Cervical Position
In addition to your cervical mucus changing, your cervix itself will also go through some changes. When you are not fertile, it will feel about as firm as the tip of your nose. It will also be lower in the vagina, closed and dry. When you are fertile and due to ovulate, it will feel Soft like your lips, High, Open and Wet (SHOW).
4. Positive Ovulation Prediction Kit
There are over-the-counter ovulation prediction kits (OPK) that can tell you whether you are ovulating. These kits test levels of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) in your urine. A positive result means that ovulating is imminent.
5. Saliva Ferning
This technique is rarely used these days, but it is possible to see signs of ovulation under a microscope. If you look at your saliva under a microscope while you are ovulating, you will notice a ferning, or snowflake, pattern.
Note: the first five signs can be experienced by most woman during ovulation. The following signs are experienced by some women. If you do not experience the following signs, do not worry. It does not mean you skipped a cycle.
Some women experience cramping pain during ovulation called mittelschmerz (meaning “middle pain” in German). It will only be present on one side of your abdomen. About 20% of women experience this pain, so do not worry if you are not one of them.
7. Ovulation Bleeding
Some women experience light spotting when they ovulate. This can be due be a temporary drop in estrogen when the egg is released. This causes the uterus lining to decrease a little, releasing blood.
8. Breast Tenderness
Similar to when you are getting your period, your breasts may feel tender to the touch when ovulating.
9. Abdominal Bloating
Again, like with your menstrual period, you may experience bloating during ovulation.
10. Heightened Senses
Hormones surge during ovulation and they may cause you to be on high alert. You may notice better vision, hearing or taste.
11. Increased Sex Drive
Studies have found that some women have an increased sex drive around the time of ovulation.
12. Nausea or Headaches
Hormone changes may also cause nausea or headaches around the time of ovulation.
Phil Druce launched OvulationCalendar.com after a personal family battle to get pregnant. Ovulation Calendar aims to provide the necessary tools and educational resources for those couples hoping to achieve a safe and healthy pregnancy.