What ovulation signs can I look out for if I'm hoping to conceive?

Answers from Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D.

Understanding when you're ovulating — and having sex regularly five days before and on the day of ovulation — can improve the odds of conceiving.

Ovulation is the process in which a mature egg is released from the ovary. Those six days are important because the egg is able to be fertilized for about 12 to 24 hours after it's released. In addition, sperm can live inside the female reproductive tract as long as five days after sexual intercourse under the right conditions. Your chance of getting pregnant is highest when live sperm are present in the fallopian tubes during ovulation.

In an average 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation typically occurs about 14 days before the start of the next menstrual period. But in most women, ovulation occurs in the four days before or after the midpoint of the menstrual cycle. If, like many women, you don't have a perfect 28-day menstrual cycle, you can determine the length and midpoint of your cycle by keeping a menstrual calendar.

Beyond the calendar, you can also look for ovulation signs and symptoms, including:

  • Change in vaginal secretions. Just before ovulation, you might notice an increase in clear, wet, and stretchy vaginal secretions. Just after ovulation, cervical mucus decreases and becomes thicker, cloudy and less noticeable.
  • Change in basal body temperature. Your body's temperature at rest (basal body temperature) increases slightly during ovulation. Using a thermometer specifically designed to measure basal body temperature, take your temperature every morning before you get out of bed. Record the results and look for a pattern to emerge. You'll be most fertile during the two to three days before your temperature rises.

You also might want to try an over-the-counter ovulation kit. These kits test your urine for the surge in hormones that takes place before ovulation, which helps you identify when you're most likely to ovulate.

With

Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D.

Oct. 25, 2016