Ask an Expert: Fertility
How can I figure out when I'm ovulating?
Dr. Thomas G Hannam MD FRCSC REI's Response
Figuring out when you ovulate isn't always easy to do. Here are some tips to get you started:
Use a calendar
- The easiest, but least precise, way to predict ovulation is to chart your menstrual cycle on a calendar. A woman's cycle begins on the first day of her period, the day she starts getting regular flow. While the cycle typically lasts about 28 days, it can vary. Track your cycle in a calendar for a few months; once you know how many days your cycle generally is, subtract 14 days from the predicted end of the cycle (day before your next period) to determine time of ovulation.
- If you find this confusing, there are many applications for Apple's ipod that will do the math for you (here) is a popular one).
Know your body
- Some women notice mid-cycle lower abdominal discomfort (or pain) at the time of ovulation.
- We used to suggest a basal body temperature (BBT) chart. To measure BBT, you take your temperature every morning when you wake up and chart it on a calendar. The problem is that by the time you see your temperature change, the actual physical release of the egg probably already happened.
- The best way to track ovulation at home is by tracking cervical mucus. The probability of conception at home is highest when the mucus is slippery and clear. If you are interested in this approach but aren't really sure what to do, this book may be helpful.
- Even the closest of home monitoring can miss ovulation up to 50% of the time. To increase your chances, you can buy an ovulation predictor kit at your local pharmacy. They're available without a prescription, are simple to use, and can usually predict ovulation 24 to 36 hours in advance. The kit works by measuring increases in your LH level just prior to ovulation. These kits are very reliable for most women.
- Other monitoring devices are for sale (there is a fertility "watch," and another device that looks at your saliva) but they don't work as well.
Knowing when you ovulate isn't always easy, especially when you have irregular cycles. If you need help working out what is going on, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor. With a few tests, we can almost always help set the stage for your success.
For more help on getting pregnant at home, you can download my fertility primer here.
Ask your fertility question now
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