Should I look for any particular ovulation signs if I'm hoping to conceive?

Answers from Roger W. Harms, M.D.

Ovulation signs and symptoms are often subtle. Still, understanding when you're ovulating — and having sex regularly just before ovulation — can improve the odds of conceiving.

Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovary. Ovulation often happens around day 14 of a menstrual cycle, although the exact timing might vary among women or even from month to month.

Ovulation signs and symptoms might include:

  • Abdominal cramps. For some women, ovulation triggers mild abdominal cramps.
  • Change in vaginal secretions. Just before ovulation, you might notice an increase in clear, slippery vaginal secretions — if you look for it. These secretions typically resemble raw egg whites. After ovulation, when the odds of becoming pregnant are slim, the discharge will become cloudy and thick or disappear entirely.
  • Change in basal body temperature. Your body's temperature at rest (basal body temperature) might increase slightly during ovulation. Using a thermometer specifically designed to measure basal body temperature, take your temperature every morning before you get out of bed. Plot the readings on graph paper or in a spreadsheet and look for a pattern to emerge. You'll be most fertile during the two to three days before your temperature rises.

In addition, you 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 be ovulating.

To maximize your fertility, have sex once a day around the time of ovulation — particularly during the days leading up to ovulation.

Feb. 13, 2014