What is ovulation?
Ovulation is the development and release of an ovum (egg) from a woman's ovaries. It is the fertile period of a woman's menstrual cycle.
When do women ovulate?
A woman's ovarian cycle is generally about 28 days in length. Regardless of the length of the cycle, ovulation occurs about 14 days before the end of the cycle.
How can you tell when you're ovulating?
Count back 12 to 16 days from the date that your next period is due to give you an approximate ovulation period. If your cycle is exactly 28 days, then day 14 will most likely be the day you are ovulating. If you have a 25 day cycle, you will mostly likely ovulate on day 11, whereas if you have a 35 day cycle, ovulation most likely occurs on day 21. This method will probably not be much help if your cycle is not regular. If you find you are having trouble detecting when you are ovulating, talk to your doctor who can give further advice.
You can also learn to pick up the cues from your body that tell you when you are about to ovulate;
Watch for changes in cervical mucus - You can detect ovulation by watching for changes in your cervical mucus. Your cervical mucus increases in volume and changes texture as your monthly cycle progresses. At the beginning of the menstrual cycle, the mucus is sparse, cloudy, tacky and dense, and when you ovulate this fluid becomes more plentiful, clear and slippery. The consistency of fluid when you are ovulating is described as being the consistency of raw egg white.
Monitor your basal body temperature - Following ovulation, your temperature increases quite significantly and remains higher for the rest of your cycle. However, this increase is too slight for you to detect without a basal body temperature thermometer (available from your chemist). The best use of this method is to chart your daily temperature (taken every morning before rising) over a couple of months to determine a pattern and then plan to have sex during the two to three days prior to the time that your temperature would normally increase.
Check for other signs - Some woman experience ovulation pains. These are felt as abdominal pains or discomfort and usually only last for a few hours.
Ovulation predictor kits - These kits are available at chemists and supermarkets. They detect the lutenising hormone which surges at the onset of ovulation. The kit will tell you when to start testing based on the average length of your cycle. Testing usually occurs over a five day period. Ovulation usually occurs 12 to 36 hours after the LH surge, so as soon as the test returns a positive LH result you know you are at your most fertile for the next day or two.
Some women find it easy to pinpoint when they are ovulating while others never actually figure it out.
To discuss more about ovulation, speak with other EB members on our live forums.