If you are trying to conceive, are trying NOT to conceive by using cycle awareness or if you are delving into Menstrual Cycle Awareness coaching, it is more than helpful to know when you are actually ovulating.
Unfortunately, we are not born with a light that comes on when we ovulate and our signs are a lot more subtle than with other mammals. However, there are some clues that we can use.
1. Cervical mucus
2. Cervix height and texture
4. Basal Body Temperature charting
5. Other indicators
Okay, so mucus is not something we really want to think about but when we want to know about ovulation it is one of the easiest indicators that we are at that point in our cycle. Throughout the menstrual cycle, our cervical mucus changes in texture, quantity and colour. In the couple of days before ovulation, our cervical mucus changes to be a texture similar to egg-whites. If you touch it between two fingers, it is clear and slightly stretchy and gelatinous. You will notice that you are wetter in the few days around ovulation and it is at this time that you should assume that you are your most fertile. Most women have quite consistent cervical mucus changes around this time, however, some women do not. If that is the case, give me a call and we can sort that out! After ovulation, the consistency becomes thicker again and a stickier consistency.
Cervix Height and Texture
Around ovulation, your cervix is higher up in your vagina. If you insert your fingers into your vagina at different points of your cycle, you will feel that it moves so that when you are bleeding it is lower down and mid-cycle it is higher up. It may be worth feeling for these changes every few days so you are aware of the difference for your body. As we nearer ovulation, the tip of the cervix is also much softer than at other points of the cycle. This is not a method to depend upon but it is helpful to use alongside other methods.
Many women use OPK test strips to help to predict their cycle. These urine test strips test for LH hormones, which can be an indicator that ovulation is imminent. These are a good method, however they are not entirely accurate as they only indicate that ovulation MIGHT happen, not that it WILL happen. Many women experience positive tests only to find they didn't actually ovulate or they experience positive tests on random days in their cycle, which is confusing but indicates that the body has unsuccessfully tried to ovulate a few times. It still remains one of the better methods.
Basal Body Temperature Charting
This method of charting your temperature upon waking (see my other blog post) is a great way of CONFIRMING if ovulation has or has not occurred. It is a really useful tool to use alongside OPK tests or physical indicators. It also enables you to accurately look for patterns in your cycle and many women are able to establish a regular ovulation window.
Some women experience ovulation pain, breast tenderness, headaches and even spotting around ovulation. More subtle indicators can include changes to their skin, hair or nails, increased libido or other mood changes. Menstrual Cycle Awareness charting can help you to really understand your body and your emotions at different points of your cycle so that you can learn what is 'normal' for you around this time.
Something to note: just because you've had a period, that doesn't mean that you have ovulated. There are other causes of a bleed, such a breakthrough bleeding, withdrawl bleeding or menstrual health issues. If you are trying to conceive and it isn't working, it is important you go to visit your GP and I strongly recommend seeking the advice of a coach like me to guide and advise you on all your options.