Why is ovulation important?
How many of you remember ovulation from health class way back in the day?
No? That’s okay. I’ve got you covered.
Ovulation is important because instead of treating it as a guessing game, there’s a specific time in your cycle that’s the perfect day for you to get pregnant.
Moreover, knowing when you’re ovulating is important if:
a) You are actively trying to start your family,
b) You want to get pregnant eventually,
c) You don’t have a desire to become pregnant at the moment/ever/(insert reason here) and would prefer not to use hormonal birth control or any devices.
Ovulation occurs mid-cycle when there is a spike of lutenizing hormone that causes your ovary to release an egg which has the potential to be fertilized by sperm.
You might think that periods are supposed to be 28 days long. But that’s not actually true.
Neither is the belief that you ovulate on day 14.
This causes some couples to have sex on day 14 to increase their chance at getting pregnant. Or they may not have sex/use barrier methods (like condoms) so they don’t conceive.
If you’re not experiencing the ‘ideal’ 28 day period, then you may not actually be ovulating on day 14.
In fact, you might not be ovulating at all (despite the regular 28 day cycle – this can be a feature of PCOS)!
How to find out if you’re ovulating
Your body gives you three signs to tell you if you’re ovulating. The first two will happen before you ovulate and the third will happen after you ovulate.
It’s common to mistake healthy cervical fluid as an infection, if you notice it on your underwear or after wiping. The truth is, you probably haven’t paid much attention to it. But experiencing cervical fluid changes throughout your cycle is normal (and check out this article for when it isn’t)!
When you’re fertile, your cervical fluid begins to get most, sticky, and cloudy. During ovulation, the texture changes to wet, slippery, and stretchy – similar to an egg white. Your cervical fluid helps the sperm travel to the cervix (they can live up to 5 days in fertile cervical fluid!), as well as provide nourishment.
Check my post that teaches you how to assess your cervical fluid!
This isn’t a sign that I often test, but it does help to tell you when you’re ovulating. Around ovulation time, your cervix will be soft (similar to the feel of your lips), high (because estrogen is pulling up your uterine ligaments), open (to help get sperm inside) and wet (because it’s producing cervical fluid).
When you’re not ovulating, your cervix will be firm (like the tip of your nose), low, closed and not wet (because the egg white fluid is not being produced).
Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
BBT is used to help you figure out when you’ve ovulated. This temperature is your body’s lowest temperature that’s usually taken in the morning, right before you get out of bed.
When ovulation occurs, your progesterone begins to rise and cases temperature increase. The increase is not significantly large (0.4-0.8F), but indicates when you’ve ovulated. The temperature increases lasts for about 10-14 days.
Check out my post outlining how to track your temperature!
Tracking your temperature and cervical fluid are incredibly easy things you can do at home! There’s a great app that can help you in your fertility journey called TCOYF.
You can also determine when your fertile window is using ovulation predictor kits. These are at-home kits where you dip test sticks into your urine to tell you if LH is going to hit it’s peak. Ideally, you’d want to start using these after your period to determine what your fertile window is (typically 6 days before ovulation). If you are hoping to achieve a pregnancy, using these sticks can be very helpful to guide you in timing sex.
Now that you have a solid plan, please sign up for my monthly newsletter called The Flow for more informative and useful content like this!