Get pregnant faster by paying attention to these ovulation symptoms
Just about every person trying to get pregnant wants to know when it’s ovulation day. Luckily, once you know what to look for, ovulation signs and symptoms aren’t difficult to notice. Ovulation is when an egg is released from the ovary. When the egg is ovulated, you want sperm waiting in the fallopian tubes available to fertilize that egg.
In other words, ideally, S.e.xual intercourse should occur the day or two before the moment of ovulation in order to increase your odds of conception. People who ovulate are most fertile in the days leading up to ovulation.1 Timing S.e.x during this period can considerably increase your chances of getting pregnant that cycle.
If your menstrual cycles are regular, meaning they occur with the same frequency every 25 to 35 days, you’ll likely be most fertile around halfway between the start of one period and the next, which is when ovulation occurs.
Some ovulation signs indicate that ovulation is approaching. This allows you to time S.e.x for pregnancy. Others let you know that ovulation has passed. This can be reassuring, giving you confidence that you did ovulate.
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Find Out When You’re Most Fertile
The Ovulation Window
On average, a person with regular cycles tends to ovulate sometime between day 11 and day 21 of their cycle. (Day 1 is the day you get your period.) This means a person’s most fertile days will fall somewhere between day 8 and day 21.2
If your cycles are on the shorter side, you’re more likely to ovulate closer to day 11. If you have longer menstrual cycles, ovulation may occur closer to day 21. But “some time” between day 11 and day 21 is quite a long range.
You could aim to have S.e.x every day or every other day between day 8 and day 21. Or, you can look for ovulation signs and symptoms and have S.e.x whenever you detect fertile signs. You can also try tracking your cycles every month, so you get an idea of when ovulation occurs for you (your own personal average).
How Do I Know If I’m Fertile Enough to Get Pregnant?
Determining your most fertile time—ovulation day—can be tricky, but there are several ways to tell when you’re at the most fertile point in your cycle. Here are eight signs and symptoms that ovulation is coming or that ovulation has just occurred.
Positive Ovulation Test Result
An ovulation predictor kit works a lot like an at-home pregnancy test.3 You urinate on a stick or into a cup in which you place the stick or test strip. Two lines will appear. When the test line is darker than the control line, the test is considered positive, indicating that you are likely about to ovulate. This is the time to have S.e.x to get pregnant.
Ovulation tests are a popular way to detect ovulation, but they have their pros and cons. Considerations include the following:
- They’re less work than charting your basal body temperature.
- Digital ovulation monitors can be relatively easy to use.
- Simpler tests can be difficult to interpret as it’s not always easy to determine when the test line is darker than the control.
- These tests can get expensive, especially if your periods are irregular or you’re trying to conceive for a long time.
- They’re not a guaranteed sign you ovulated. You can get a positive result and not ovulate.
- People with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may get multiple positive results, even if they aren’t ovulating, making the kits useless.
Fertile Cervical Mucus
When you’re approaching ovulation, secretions near the cervix known as cervical mucus increase and transform into a raw-egg-white-like consistency.3 This fertile quality cervical mucus helps sperm swim up and into the reproductive system and typically makes S.e.xual intercourse easier and more pleasurable.
When you’re not in a fertile stage of your cycle, cervical mucus is stickier. The stages of cervical mucus are almost dry to none, sticky, creamy, watery, raw-egg-white-like, and then back to sticky or dry. Once you know what to look for, you can learn to track these changes and predict ovulation.
When you have wet or egg-white-like cervical mucus, that’s the best time to have S.e.x to get pregnant.
Increased S.e.xual Desire
Nature knows exactly how to get you to have S.e.x at the ideal time for conception. A person’s desire for S.e.x increases just before ovulation. Not only does their desire for S.e.x go up, and amazingly, they also look “S.e.xier.” The actual bone structure of a person’s face shifts slightly, their walk becomes more fluid, accentuating their curves, and, if they dance, their hips may have a more sensual swing.
So, if you’re in the mood, it’s a decent indicator that ovulation is on the horizon. This is an easy way to time S.e.x for pregnancy. Of course, ovulation isn’t the only thing that can have your libido soaring. Also, if you’re anxious, stressed, or depressed, you may not notice or have an increase in S.e.xual desire, even right before ovulation.
Your basal body temperature (BBT) is your temperature when you’re at rest. While you may think of a normal body temperature as 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the truth is that your body temperature varies slightly throughout the day and month. It goes up and down based on your activity level, what you eat, your hormones, your sleep habits, and, of course, if you get sick.
- Tracking requires you to take your temperature every morning, at the same time every morning (i.e., no sleeping in), before you get out of bed.
- Free apps and websites can be used to chart your BBT.
- Though it can’t predict ovulation, your BBT can tell you the approximate day ovulation occurred—after the fact.
- Irregular schedules make tracking BBT difficult, such as working the night shift or inconsistencies in your sleep patterns.
- Your healthcare provider can diagnose irregular cycles or ovulation problems with your BBT chart.
After ovulation, progesterone levels rise in your body, which causes your temperature to rise slightly. If you track your BBT, you can see when you ovulated.3
Change in Cervical Position
If you think of your vagina as a tunnel, the tunnel ends at the cervix. Your cervix shifts positions and changes throughout your menstrual cycle.4 You can track these changes.
Just before ovulation, the cervix moves up higher (you may even have difficulty reaching it), becomes softer to the touch, and opens slightly. When you’re not in the fertile stage of your cycle, the cervix is lower, harder, and more tightly closed.
While you may think cervix checking is limited to OB/GYNs during childbirth, it is something you can learn to do. And while you’re checking your cervix, you can evaluate your cervical mucus changes, too.
Ever notice that your breasts are sometimes tender to the touch? But not always? The hormones your body produces after ovulation cause this. You can use this change as a way of confirming that ovulation has likely occurred.5
You can’t predict ovulation this way, but it can be reassuring if you’re wondering if you’ve ovulated this cycle yet. That said, breast tenderness could also be a side effect of fertility drugs.
Saliva Ferning Pattern
A ferning pattern in your saliva is another possible sign of ovulation.3 A unique and uncommon way to detect ovulation, a ferning pattern looks like frost on a windowpane. There are specialized microscopes sold for this purpose, but you could technically use any toy store microscope.
Some people have difficulty detecting the ferning pattern. Because it’s an unusual way of tracking ovulation, you won’t find many resources and peer support. (With cervical mucus or basal body temperature tracking, there are many support forums from which you can receive feedback and guidance.)
Ever notice a sharp pain in your lower abdomen that seems to occur randomly? If that pain comes mid-cycle, you may be experiencing ovulation pain.5
Some people get ovulation pain every month. Research has found that mid-cycle pain (also known as mittelschmerz, German for “middle pain”) occurs just before you ovulate, which would be when you’re most fertile.
For most, ovulation pain is a temporary sharp pain in the lower abdomen. However, others experience pain severe enough that it prevents them from having S.e.xual intercourse during their most fertile time.
Tell your healthcare provider right away if you are experiencing severe pain during ovulation, as this could be a possible symptom of endometriosis or pelvic adhesions.
Pinpointing Your Ovulation Date
Can any of the ovulation signs listed above give you the exact date you ovulated? Here’s the bottom line: It doesn’t matter. As long as you have S.e.x every day or every other day within three to four days of your possible ovulation date, you’ll have had S.e.x at the right time to conceive. In fact, research has found that it may not be possible for you even to know the exact day you ovulated.
Ultrasound can be used to determine when ovulation occurred.3 Researchers have compared ultrasound results to commonly used methods of ovulation tracking. They found that basal body temperature charting correctly predicted the exact day of ovulation only 43% of the time. Ovulation predictor kits, which detect the LH hormone surge that occurs prior to ovulation, may be accurate just 60% of the time.
All of this is good news. It means you don’t need to stress out over having S.e.x on the exact day before ovulation in order to conceive.
As long as you have S.e.xual intercourse when there are possible fertile signs, or have S.e.x frequently all month long, your odds of conceiving are good.
Signs of Irregular Ovulation
If you’re not ovulating, however, you can’t get pregnant. And if you’re ovulating irregularly, it may be harder for you to conceive. Anovulation is the medical term for not ovulating.6 Oligovulation is the medical term for irregular ovulation. These can be signs of an ovulation-related problem.
Irregular or Missing Periods
It’s normal if your menstrual cycle varies by a couple of days each month. It’s not normal, however, if the variations span several days. Similarly, A “normal” cycle can be as short as 21 days or as long as 35 days. If your cycles are commonly shorter or longer than this, you may have an ovulation problem.
Assuming you’re of childbearing age, not getting your period at all or going many months between cycles can both be strong signs that you’re not ovulating. In these cases, it’s important to get checked out by an OB/GYN specializing in fertility issues.
No Rise in Basal Body Temperature
If you’ve been charting your cycles and you don’t see a slight increase in BBT, it’s possible you’re not ovulating. However, some people don’t get the rise in BBT, even if they are ovulating. Why this happens is unknown. Also, irregular sleep patterns and not taking your temperature at the same time every morning before getting up for the day can throw off your charting results.
Inconsistencies in Ovulation Test Results
Ovulation test kits detect the hormone LH, which surges just before ovulation occurs. If you never get a positive result, you may not be ovulating.
Oddly enough, getting multiple positive results can also indicate an ovulation problem. This implies your body is attempting to trigger ovulation but is not achieving success. Think of it as a misfire. This is common in people with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Don’t assume you can’t get pregnant if you have symptoms of a possible ovulation problem. Even if you’re not getting your periods, it may still be possible to get pregnant. It’s unlikely. But it’s possible. If you don’t want to get pregnant, use contraception or birth control. Talk to your healthcare probider about your particular situation.
Medical Tests for Ovulation
If you suspect you’re not ovulating or ovulating irregularly, see your OB/GYN or healthcare provider. You may have a fertility problem, and it’s important you get things checked out soon. Some causes of infertility worsen with time.
The most common way for your healthcare provider to confirm if you’re ovulating is with a progesterone blood test. The hormone progesterone rises after ovulation. If you’re not ovulating, your progesterone results will be abnormally low. This test is usually done on day 21 of your cycle.
Your OB/GYN or healthcare provider will also likely run other blood work during fertility testing, which can help determine why you may not be ovulating. They will also test your FSH and AMH levels, along with estrogen, prolactin, androgens, and thyroid hormones.
Your physician may also order a transvaginal ultrasound. An ultrasound will enable your doctor to see if follicles are developing in the ovary. After ovulation, ultrasound can detect whether a follicle broke open and released an egg.
Treatment for Irregular Ovulation
If your healthcare provider has determined that you’re not ovulating regularly, the next step is often, but not always, treatment with Clomid. Clomid (clomiphene) is a popular fertility drug that triggers ovulation, has few side effects, and has a good pregnancy success rate.7
However, be sure your physician checks your male partner’s fertility and your fallopian tubes first. That means a semen analysis for them and an HSG (a special kind of x-ray) for you.
You may be eager to just move forward with Clomid. But if something else is also keeping you from getting pregnant—like blocked fallopian tubes or male infertility—and those issues are not treated, then you will go through Clomid cycles for no reason.
If your healthcare provider won’t check your tubes and your partner’s fertility health before prescribing Clomid, go to someone else who will. Your partner may need to seeN to try Clomid.
It’s worth taking the time to get the necessary ovulation and fertility tests done early. This will help determine the best course of action for fertility treatment for you and/or your partner and increase your chances of successfully conceiving.
A Word From Verywell
Often, you can use ovulation prediction to get pregnant faster. That said, even if your fertility is “perfect,” don’t expect to conceive your very first month of trying. According to research on couples who knew how to detect ovulation signs and time S.e.x for pregnancy, 68% conceived within three months. After six months, 81% were pregnant.
However, ovulation isn’t the only key to conception. It’s just one part of the puzzle. The health of the overall reproductive system in both partners is also important.
If you’re struggling to conceive, and you’re pretty sure you’re ovulating, don’t assume this means everything is working fine. See your OB/GYN or healthcare provider and get checked out in case a fertility issue is at play. The good news is that most couples with fertility challenges will be able to get pregnant with the help of fertility treatments.
By: Rachel Gurevich, RN