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8 Reliable Signs That Tell You When You Are Ovulating or Fertile
  • Sex keeps relationships healthy (it is a de-stressing activity for one thing). But it may feel like a chore if you’ve been trying to get pregnant. You have done the sex positions and tried it on different hours. But it not about how often you have sex, but how often do you do it during your ovulation or fertile period.

    Your chances of pregnancy increase when you have sex that is close to the time of ovulation. According to Your Fertility, a non-government organization backed up by four institutions that advocate for reproductive health, having sex on the day or two days before a woman’s ovulation period ups the chance of getting pregnant by 30%. If you have sex five days ahead, your odds of conceiving goes down to about 10%. Having sex six or more days before ovulation may already mean zero chances of getting pregnant.

    What is ovulation?

    A woman’s ovulation period depends on her menstrual cycle, so it will be different for every woman. It’s the period in your cycle when your luteinizing hormone surges and triggers your ovary to release the most mature egg or the one that is most ripe to be fertilized. The egg then travels down the fallopian tube, ready to be fertilized by a sperm.

    The egg is only viable to be fertilized for about 12 to 24 hours after your ovary releases it. Sperm, on the other hand, can stay alive in a woman’s reproductive system for days. If you have sex on the day or two days before ovulation, there’s a higher chance that a sperm will fertilize your egg, and you’ll get pregnant!

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    When does ovulation happen?

    You need to be familiar with your menstrual cycle to pinpoint your fertile days. Ovulation occurs about 10 to 16 days before a woman’s menstruation starts. Typically, in healthy women with a regular menstrual cycle, it happens 14 days before her period. With that in mind, you can subtract 14 days from the length of your cycle.

    If you’re on a 28-day cycle — Day 1 being the first day of your period — your ovulation period starts on Day 14. If you’re on a 24-day cycle, you begin to ovulate on Day 10, while a woman who has a 35-day cycle will ovulate on Day 21.

    For women with irregular periods, it more difficult to estimate when ovulation occurs. If your menstrual cycle is shorter than 21 days or longer than 35 days, consult an obstetrician-gynecologist to check what could be the cause of your irregular cycle.

    Breastfeeding, pregnancy, menopause, and birth control pill can affect your cycle. If you’ve ruled those out, other possible reasons for irregular periods include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), certain medications you’re taking, and other lifestyle factors such as stress and weight issues.

    What are the signs that a woman is ovulating?

    Apart from using the calendar and counting 14 days before your next period starts to determine if you're fertile, there are physical signs that tell you’re ovulating. According to the American Pregnancy Association, you can track and observe the primary symptoms of ovulation, while secondary signs may not happen as consistently, if at all, for all women.

    Primary symptoms of ovulation

    1. Your basal body temperature falls slightly, then rises again.

    Basal body temperature (BBT) is the baseline body temperature taken first thing as soon as one wakes up in the morning, after getting at least three to five hours of sleep. Planned Parenthood explained that a woman’s BBT usually drops ever so slightly on the day she’s ovulating, and then rises again until her period starts. You need a thermometer that’s specifically designed to measure basal body temperature since the drop can be as slightly as at least 0.4 to 1 degree.

    You need to regularly take your BBT as soon as you wake up every day for two to three months. It’ll help you pinpoint when during the month is your lowest BBT or your ovulation day. Be as consistent as possible as sleep quality and stress can easily affect your BBT.

    2. Your vaginal discharge becomes clear and thin, with a more slippery consistency.

    Changes in vaginal discharge go from sticky or creamy after your period to wet and slippery nearing your fertile period that helps the sperm swim to the egg released by your ovaries, and then back to sticky or dry. Again, this varies from one woman to another.

    If your vaginal discharge or cervical mucus is similar to a clear, slippery, raw egg white consistency, then you’re most probably ovulating or near your ovulation period, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). Test your cervical mucus by inserting a clean finger in your vagina and then removing some of the mucus secretions between your thumb and finger. If you can stretch the mucus between your fingers, you’re probably ovulating or nearing your ovulation period.

    Bear in mind that your vaginal discharge can be influenced by infections, sexual excitement, and lubricants. Planned Parenthood also cautions that douching, breastfeeding, perimenopause, and surgery performed on the cervix can also affect a woman’s cervical mucus.

    3. Your cervix softens and opens up.

    ACOG also lists that along with your cervical mucus, the position and texture of a woman’s cervix can be used to check if she’s ovulating. Women with a regular menstrual cycle are ovulation, her cervix is positioned higher, is more open, and feels softer, as if you’re touching your lips. After her fertile period, a woman’s cervix is low, closed, and feels firmer, like touching bone cartilage or the tip of your nose. It takes a bit of getting used to the changes in your cervix to notice the difference, but you can also ask your doctor to guide you.

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    Secondary symptoms of ovulation

    4. You may feel some “ovulation pain.”

    The sensation is called mittelschmerz, or “middle pain” in German, and it’s described as a slight twinge of pain or mild cramps in your lower abdomen, usually on one side or the other. It can last from a few minutes to a few hours and may come with light vaginal bleeding, discharge, and even nausea. If pain persists, consult your doctor to rule out endometriosis.

    5. You may notice some light spotting.

    Not all women have it, but noticing a red to dark brown discharge or spotting during ovulation is normal. The small amount of bleeding comes from when the follicle that protects the egg as it matures and ruptures as it released. If spotting doesn’t stop, see your doctor to rule out an ectopic pregnancy or any sign of infection.

    6. Your sex drive may increase.

    Many women notice that they feel the urge to procreate, a.k.a., have sex when they’re most fertile. It’s perhaps an evolutionary instinct to ensure human species survival. Then again, there are a lot of other factors that can influence a person’s sex drive.

    7. Your sense of smell is on overdrive.

    Women with regular cycles may have a more sensitive sense of smell, particularly to the male pheromone androstenone, when they’re ovulating. It typically happens in the latter half of the menstrual cycle and may be a factor why women’s sex drive surge during their fertile days. Some women may also have a heightened sense of taste or vision.

    8. Your breasts may feel tender, and you may feel bloated, too.

    Breast and nipple tenderness or soreness is another probable sign of ovulation. It’s most likely due to the changing level of hormones before and after ovulation. Hormones are also most probably the culprit why you may feel bloated near your fertile days.

    If your menstrual cycle is regular, you can cross check two primary symptoms of ovulation to try to be more accurate in determining your most fertile day. Secondary symptoms, even if you ticked more than two, may still not be accurate, so proceed with caution. You can also buy ovulation test kits (OTK) from drug stores or online and use it a few days before your estimate fertile days. There are two types of OTK, one that tests your saliva, and another that uses urine similar to an at-home pregnancy test.

    For easy tracking, there are apps available to download to make it easier for you. It can tell you when your ovulation days are, so you can do the deed and conceive, as long as you commit to updating and logging in period days and different symptoms religiously. There’s one that’s been approved as a birth control device. (Click here for our list of the best fertility apps!)

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