When do I ovulate?
When do I ovulate? Do all women ovulate the same?
The short answer: no. Ovulation patterns differ with each woman’s specific body type and menstrual cycle. You may have learned about ovulation in middle school health class….but that was years ago. Here’s a refresher.
Ovulation: The Basics
Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovary, and its travel down the fallopian tube. As the egg travels, it has a *chance* of being fertilized by a sperm. If the timing is just right, it will result in a pregnancy!
Having sex during your ovulation window is the best way to maximize your chances of pregnancy. Conversely, avoiding sex during ovulation is how to avoid an accidental pregnancy.
Women often ovulate about half way through the menstrual cycle. If the first day of your most recent period Day 1 and the last day before your next period is day 28, chances are you will ovulate about mid-way through the cycle–around Day 14.
This, of course, assumes a 28 day cycle. Most women’s cycles are between 21 and 35 days long. Naturally, cycle length affects ovulation timing.
During ovulation, an egg is available to be fertilized for only 12-24 hours. Recall that sperm can live in the body for 3-5 days. Because of this, medical experts tend to talk about ovulation occurring during a multi-day “window” of time around the ovulation day.
Using the example of a 28 day cycle, you can presume that ovulation will occur approximately in the window between Day 12 and Day 16 (notice Day 14 is right in the middle–you see what we did there?). For cycles that are not 28 days long (ahem…most cycles), just count back 14 days from your NEXT expected period. That’s about the time when you will ovulate.
Calendar estimation is one way to figure out when ovulation might be happening. But a more foolproof method involves also paying attention to your body’s signs of ovulation: patterns in body temperature and vaginal discharge.
Temperature - We’re not just talking regular temperature–this is basal body temperature, or the lowest body temperature you experience in a 24-hour period. It happens right when you wake up in the morning. You can detect BBT by taking your temperature with a special BBT thermometer before getting out of bed. When you ovulate, your basal body temperature rises. The uptick is tiny–only about 0.5 to 1.6 degree Fahrenheit–but it is enough to indicate that ovulation has just occurred.
Vaginal Discharge - If you pay attention to the fluids in your panties, you’ll notice that cervical mucus (fancy medical name for discharge) changes throughout your cycle. Most of the month, your vag stays pretty mellow. But as you approach ovulation, you’ll notice a clear, slippery, and stretchy substance emerge. That’s egg white cervical mucus. Named so because it looks and feels kind of like raw egg whites. Sorry if we just ruined brunch forever.
In addition to the temperature and vaginal discharge variations, a significant number of women in the Glow Community report having experienced the following symptoms during their ovulation window:
Increase in sex drive - 55%
Brief twinge of pain or dull ache felt in abdomen - 48%
Abdominal bloating - 38%
Breast tenderness - 37%
Heightened sense of vision, taste, or smell - 21%
Light spotting - 7%
Ovulation Tracking Tools
Accurately tracking your ovulation requires tools. From where we sit, these are the essentials.
Glow app - A smartphone app that allows you to record everything from your period dates to your BBT and cervical mucus. The app does the math so that you don’t have to–and sends you updates before menstruation and ovulation to keep you in the know. As you might expect, we recommend it highly :)
BBT Thermometer - Essential for knowing if you’re hot or not…and when you might be ovulating.
Ovulation Predictor Kit (OPK) - This is a pee-on-a-stick test will give you a positive result a day or two before your ovulate…and signal when you should hop to it if you’re down to make babies.
Your body don’t wait. Sister’s gonna ovulate. So know the facts and stay up to date!
Note: This piece was originally published in the Glow blog.