Ovulation refers to the process of an egg being released from your ovary. You become pregnant when that egg is fertilized and implants into your uterine lining.
You’re most fertile days include the two to three days before ovulation through the day you ovulate. Knowing or being able to estimate your anticipated date of ovulation can help you time sex accordingly to either increase your chances of getting pregnant or prevent pregnancy. There are three methods you can use to help determine when you are ovulating.
Use the calendar method
The easiest way to estimate your ovulation date is to count back on your calendar. To do this you will need to estimate when your next period will start, which means you will need to have regular periods. From this day, you need to count back 12 days and then another four. These five days are when you’re most likely to ovulate. If you have a 28-day cycle (Day 1 being the first day of your period; Day 28 being the day before your next period), you’ll likely ovulate on day 14.
You can also use an ovulation tracker or calculator to help do the math for you.
Chart your basal body temperature and cervical mucus
A more accurate method to determine ovulation is to track your basal body temperature (BBT) patterns and your vaginal discharge patterns each cycle. This method is natural and free but takes time and effort.
After a few cycles of tracking these cues and writing them down each day, you should begin to see a pattern emerge. This pattern will help you predict when you should ovulate next.
Your basal body temperature, or BBT, refers to your lowest body temperature in a 24-hour period. Although you can’t feel a change in your body temperature your basal body temperature will rise a few days after ovulation. The increase in your BBT is very small, ranging from 0.4 to 1.0 degree Fahrenheit. You can detect this increase by taking your BBT every morning upon first waking with a special thermometer.
Your cervical mucus, or vaginal discharge, changes substantially throughout your cycle. You may have very little discharge and feel dry for most of the month; however, as you approach ovulation, you’ll notice an increase in your cervical mucus. This mucus will have a raw egg white look and consistency: clear, slippery, and stretchy.
Along with a change in cervical mucus, some women report feeling mild cramps or twinges of pain in the abdomen or a one-sided backache around the time of ovulation (known as mittelschmerz).
Use an ovulation predictor kit
The most accurate method to determine your ovulation date is testing your hormone levels with an ovulation predictor kit (OPK). OPKs are similar to home pregnancy tests in that they use your pee to test your hormone levels. This particular test tests your luteinizing hormone (LH) and will give you a positive reading once they reach a certain level. A positive test means one of your ovaries will soon release an egg within the next two days. This range gives you time to plan ahead for your most fertile time of your cycle.
OPKs can be purchased at any drugstore or online without a prescription. They can become pricey at about $20 to $50 per pack at a drugstore, but they can be purchased for less at some online stores.