Until it becomes an issue, many women ignore – or just deal with – their monthly cycle. If asked when was the first day of their last period, it might take some backtracking to come up with the approximate date. But if you are trying to get pregnant – or not get pregnant – this is an important time. Each month there is a time when you are fertile – during ovulation. And when you are talking about ovulation, timing is everything.
Women are born with millions of young eggs waiting to be added to the ovulation cycle and allowed to do their job. Each month, just one egg is released from the ovary during ovulation. It travels down the fallopian tube and is ready to be fertilized. If the egg is not fertilized, it will be absorbed into the lining of the uterus and will be shed during your monthly period.
Usually, a woman’s cycle is between 28-32 days – it can be longer or shorter and vary depending on illness, stress, or changes in normal routines. Ovulation can occur anywhere from day 11-21 – your cycle starts on the first day (day 1) of your period.
You only produce one egg each month and it is viable for just 12-24 hours. Sperm can live from 3-6 days so it is important to know your ovulation schedule. You might not even notice these subtle signs of ovulation – but they are worth watching for if you are trying (or not trying) to get pregnant.
Signs of ovulation
Calendar – If you keep a calendar of your monthly menstrual cycle, after a few months you will notice patterns and determine your ‘normal.’ As you track your period, also watch for the following signs.
Listen to your body – Your body sends signals when it is ovulating – 20% of women feel a slight pain or ache on one side of the lower abdomen. This is thought to be caused by the release of the egg. You might also experience tender breasts, abdominal bloating, and light spotting.
Temperature – Your basal body temperature is your body’s temperature first thing in the morning before you sit up in bed. The first half of your menstrual cycle your temperature is low to normal as estrogen is the dominate hormone. Your lowest temperature will be right at ovulation then it will quickly increase 1/2 to 1 degree. When monitored for a few months, this is a good predictor of ovulation.
Cervix changes – Your cervix changes throughout your cycle and your cervical mucus (vaginal discharge) is an indicator of ovulation. As you near ovulation, your cervical mucus will increase and be thinner, clearer, stretchy and similar to the consistency of egg whites – perfect to carry sperm to the egg. Cervical mucus is an extremely useful tool to pinpoint your ovulation.
Kits – There are home ovulation predictor kits that test urine or saliva for higher levels of LH – luteinizing hormone. These ovulation kits can be very helpful to get pregnant, but do not rely on them for birth control.
Women, your body is amazing. It is a fine tuned machine that has a purpose every single day. Get on track, start paying attention to your body and schedule an appointment with Dr. Hessel today. You can trust Dr. Hessel, she has the tools and knowledge to help you plan for the next important steps in your life.