What ovulation signs can I look out for if I'm trying to conceive?
Answer From Mary Marnach, 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. After it's released, the egg moves down the fallopian tube and stays there for 12 to 24 hours, where it can be fertilized. 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. However, each person's cycle length may be different, and the time between ovulation and the start of the next menstrual period may vary. If, like many women, you don't have a 28-day menstrual cycle, you can determine the length of your cycle and when you're most likely to ovulate by keeping a menstrual calendar.
Beyond the calendar, you can also look for ovulation signs and symptoms, including:
- Change in vaginal secretions (cervical mucus). 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 2 to 3 days before your temperature rises.
You also might want to try an over-the-counter ovulation kit, which can help you identify when you're most likely to ovulate. These kits test your urine for the surge in hormones that takes place before ovulation. Ovulation occurs about 36 hours after a positive result.
Dec. 07, 2022
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See more Expert Answers
- Welt CK. Evaluation of the menstrual cycle and timing of ovulation. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Nov. 3, 2021.
- Jennings V. Fertility awareness-based methods of pregnancy prevention. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Nov. 3, 2021.
- Hornstein MD, et al. Optimizing natural fertility in couples planning pregnancy. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Nov. 3, 2021.
- FAQs: Fertility awareness-based methods of family planning. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/fertility-awareness-based-methods-of-family-planning. Accessed Nov. 3, 2021.
- Trying to conceive. Office on Women's Health. https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/you-get-pregnant/trying-conceive. Accessed Nov. 3, 2021.
- Your menstrual cycle. Office on Women's Health. https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/your-menstrual-cycle. Accessed Nov. 3, 2021.
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