A lot of women will argue that they do not recognise any ovulation signs. This is usually not the case. Our bodies have been designed to be rather vocal when this is happening. The Wonderful Architect of our bodies planned it this way so that we donât miss it.
Starting from when the uterine lining thickens to prepare for the fertilized egg, ovulation is recognised in a myriad of ways, some of which are discussed below.
Cervical Mucus Changes
First of all, what is cervical mucus? This is the secretion you find on your underpants, toilet paper, or your finger (if you’re not too squeamish). Its consistency varies depending on where you are in your cycle. It could be sticky, watery and similar to egg white, stretchy, creamy, etc. Right after the end of a menstrual period, the cervical mucus is dry, serving as a way to prevent sperm from penetrating the cervix. A week before ovulation, it becomes quite abundant, sticky, and thick. In the two days leading to, on, and following ovulation, it takes an egg-white, mucus resembling, consistency, appearing clear, slippery, and stretchy. In the days following, it becomes thicker and sticky, before turning dry right around the start of your next cycle.
The best way to check for cervical mucus is after using the bathroom. Pay attention to how much, or little, the toilet paper slides. The more it slides, the more fertile you are indicated to be. So that’s the slide test. It also has to pass the visual test. If there is any cervical mucus, it will still be on the surface of the toilet paper. If it looks creamy and pasty, you are on the lower end of the fertility ladder. But if looks translucent and glistens, you are right at the top.
It is important to note that this is not a definite sign of ovulation. Some women have fertile cervical mucus, but do not ovulate. This is especially the case with women suffering from PCOS. Also Clomid, and other fertility drugs, have been known to dry up the cervical mucus.
Some herbal remedies, such as Evening Primrose Oil (taken daily, from the start of a menstrual cycle, right up to ovulation), Red Clover Blossom (taken at any point in the cycle), Cod Liver Oil (rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin A), etc.
Basal Body Temperature
Charting your basal body temperature is an almost 90% reliable way of monitoring your fertility. And what is this basal body temperature? It is essentially your body’s lowest temperature in a 24-hour period, usually attained by the body during rest.
The best time to measure it is first thing in the morning. Immediately you wake up, take your temperature. And by immediately, this is pretty much right after you open your eyes. Before any bathroom breaks, before any greeting, just pop the thermometer in your mouth. From the start of your cycle up until ovulation, your temperature will remain low, typically about 35 - 36 degrees Celsius, dipping a little further right on ovulation day. After you ovulate, there is a spike and it remains high right up till the end of the cycle. If you have a temperature drop, you probably might not have ovulated yet. Also, if you get that pregnant that cycle, it remains high all through your pregnancy. The main drawback of this method is that doesnât warn you that ovulation is imminent, but only confirms that it has passed. But at least, you are able to tell your pattern, if you track for a number of cycles, so this should help too.
The chart below shows temperature measurements for a cycle that did not end in pregnancy, combined with one that did, with the solid straight line being the coverline (a horizontal line drawn after ovulation has been established).
Sometimes, the best way to know you are ovulating is just by listening to your body. And if you know your body well enough, you will know exactly when it is that time of the month. My own tell-tale sign of ovulation is a sharp, persistent pain on my ovulating side. This is almost always accompanied by a dull ache in my lower back and tail bone area. But this is far from being the same for everyone. The intensity of the pain, its location and duration could vary from woman to woman. But, and a very big but too, it is not a very reliable ovulation tracking method as these abdominal pains can be linked to a myriad of other things besides ovulation.
This is for the stronger hearted ones (or maybe not, but so squeamish am I that I have well stayed away from this method). Essentially, one is able to track ovulation based on changes in the cervix (the neck of the uterus, which you can feel from your vagina). As ovulation approaches, it becomes high, soft, open, and wet. After ovulation, it becomes lower, closed, firm and dry.
This for me was like the Holy Grail. I had read about it, some people I know do have it, but never for one day did I see notice any spotting whatsoever mid-cycle. However, in my first clomid cycle, I saw that beautiful little speck of blood and I knew that I had an egg that was ready to mingle. I have since gone on to notice this on a few non-clomid cycles.
Before I ramble any further, it is important to explain what this spotting is all about. It is a very light bleed which may accompany ovulation, caused by the rupture of the ovarian follicle when the egg is released. However, as an ovulation indicator, it is quite uncommon, and is easily missed, even if it does happen.
Increased sexual desire
So even if you are deaf to all these signs, we have been designed to desire sex more when we are at our most fertile. In the days leading to ovulation (which is the best time to have sex if conception is your goal), sexual desire is heightened. So, you can take this is some indicator of ovulation, albeit a very remote one, especially considering that your sexual desire is (hopefully) not limited to your ovulation window.
Positive result on an Ovulation Predictor Kit
As far as tracking goes, it doesn’t get any more reliable than using an Ovulation Predictor Kit (OPK), if used correctly. These typically involve you peeing on a test stick, or dipping the test strip paper into a cup of collected urine, once a day for a week before you expect to ovulate. On your most fertile days, you get a positive indication. I happen to prefer the smiley face ones. Apart from being easier (for me), they just add a bit of cheer to my day.