7 Signs and Symptoms of Ovulation

Get Pregnant Faster by Paying Attention to These Ovulation Signs

Couple lying in bed together, ovulation symptoms bring them closer
Ovulation signs and symptoms can help you time sex for conception.. Ashley Corbin-Teich / Image Source / Getty Images

Ovulation symptoms aren't difficult to notice. Once you know what to look for, you'll be surprised how easy it can be.

Some ovulation signs warn you that ovulation is approaching. This allows you to time sex for pregnancy. Others let you know that ovulation has passed. This can be reassuring, giving you confidence that you actually did ovulate.

Below are seven different ways to detect ovulation. Don't try to use them all.

Just go with one or more that sound good for you.

Sign of Ovulation #1: Cervical Mucus Changes

Your cervical mucus changes in amount and consistency the closer you are to your fertile window. By paying careful attention to the change, you can predict your most fertile days.

When you're not ovulating, cervical mucus may appear sticky, creamy, or may be entirely absent.  Cervical mucus becomes more abundant when you're in your ovulation period. It goes from a watery stage to a raw-egg-white-like consistency. It may stretch up to an inch or more between your fingers. Learn how to check your cervical mucus.

Cervical mucus like this helps the sperm stay alive and swim their way through the cervix and up into your uterus.

Pros of using this method to detect ovulation:

  • 100 percent free.
  • Considered to be one of the most accurate indicators for timing sex for pregnancy.
  • Get to know your body better.

Cons:

  • Some people are grossed out by the idea.
  • Not a definite sign. You can have fertile cervical mucus, and not ovulate. (Common in women with PCOS.)
  • Clomid or antihistamines may dry up your cervical mucus, which may make detection difficult.

Sign of Ovulation #2: Increased Sexual Desire

Turns out nature does know what it's doing.

 Research has shown what many of us already notice: Women experience an increase in sexual desire when they are most fertile. This libido boost comes a couple of days before you ovulate. This is also the right time to have sex if you want to get pregnant.

Pros of using this method to detect ovulation:

  • Doesn't require any know-how. Just being in tune with your feelings.
  • If you have sex and you weren't about to ovulate, you still had a nice time with your partner.

Cons:

  • The stress of trying to conceive can squash sexual feelings. Also, depression or anxiety, common in couples coping with infertility, can lower sexual desire.
  • It's not a definite sign of ovulation. You may notice an increase in sexual desire at any time in your cycle, including right before your period,

Sign of Ovulation #3: Body Basal Temperature Changes

Basal body temperature charting is perhaps the most popular method of tracking ovulation.  Your body basal temperature is your body's temperature at rest. It will rise by a few tenths of a degree when ovulation occurs.

To detect this rise in temperature, you need to take your temperature every morning. You'll need to do so at the same time every morning before you get out of bed.  Then, you'll need to enter the information into a fertility chart.

Pros of using this method to detect ovulation:

  • If your temperature rises, you can be almost positive that you ovulated.
  • It's low-cost, you only need to purchase a thermometer, which you probably already have.
  • May help your doctor make a diagnosis of anovulation if the charts don't detect ovulation.

Cons:

  • Won't warn you that ovulation is coming. Can only confirm that it has passed.
  • May not work if your sleep patterns are unusually erratic or you work the night shift.
  • Some women feel overwhelmed by taking their temperature every morning. Also, worrying about every little fluctuation in temperature can make some women more anxious than they already are. It can easily become an obsession.

Sign of Ovulation #4: Changes in Cervical Position

Just as your cervical mucus changes as ovulation approaches, your cervical position also goes through changes.  Your cervix will be higher, softer, and more open when you're most fertile.

Think cervical checks are just for nurses and doctors? Once you know what to feel for, anyone can learn to check cervical position. Learn how to check your cervical position.

Pros of using this method to detect ovulation:

  • It's free.
  • Get to know your body better.
  • May help you figure out if you're ovulating, even when your cervical mucus is drier from antihistamines.

Cons:

  • Takes practice to get a feel for the differences.
  • Some people are grossed out by the idea.
  • Not a definite sign of ovulation. Like with cervical mucus, you can have fertile cervical signs but not actually ovulate.

Sign of Ovulation #5: Breast Tenderness

Some women experience tenderness in their breasts just before or after ovulation. Most women notice this most after ovulation. Your breasts are being affected by hormones that are preparing your body for pregnancy.

Pros of using this method to detect ovulation:

  • It's free.
  • Helps you get to know your body better.

Cons:

  • It's by no means an accurate indicator of ovulation.
  • Breast tenderness may come before or after ovulation, as well as right before menstruation and as a side effect of some fertility drugs.
  • Getting too obsessed about how tender your breasts feel can lead to obsessing over imaginary pregnancy symptoms.

Sign of Ovulation #6: Positive Result on an Ovulation Predictor Test

Another common way of detecting ovulation is with an ovulation predictor test kit, sometimes referred to as OPK tests or just ovulation tests.  OPKs require you to either pee on a test stick or dip a special paper into a cup of collected urine. You do this once a day for a week before you expect to ovulate.

There are two lines on the test strip. Whenever the test line is darker than the control line, the test has detected the LH surge. (This is the same hormone that causes fertile cervical mucus.)  The LH surge occurs right before ovulation. If you have sex at this time, you're very likely to get pregnant.

Pros of using this method to detect ovulation:

  • If body basal temperature (BBT) charting isn't your cup of tea, an ovulation predictor kit can be used.
  • If cervical mucus is dried up from medications, you may still get a positive on an ovulation test.
  • You only need to bother with the tests for a week or two before you expect to ovulate.
  • If fertility charting gives unusual or confusing results, an ovulation predictor kit may clarify things.

Cons:

  • Expensive compared to other methods of ovulation detection. An ovulation predictor test kit for one cycle costs anywhere from $10 – 20 dollars. Over a year, that can be expensive.
  • Determining when the test line is darker than the control line isn’t always easy.
  • You can miss the LH surge and never see a darker line. For example, you test Monday morning. Then, your LH surges Monday afternoon. By Tuesday morning, when you test again, it may be over already. Some women test more than once a day for this reason – raising the cost.
  • If you ovulate irregularly, you may need more than one kit per cycle.
  • Not a definite sign. You can have positive OPK results and not ovulate. You can also have more than one LH surge detected per cycle, but only the last of those surges correlates to possible ovulation.

Sign of Ovulation #7: Saliva Ferning

A unique and uncommon way to detect ovulation, a ferning pattern of your saliva is another possible sign of ovulation.  A ferning pattern looks like frost on a window pane. The ferning pattern appears during the body’s LH surge, which occurs 24-48 hours before ovulation. There are special microscopes sold for this purpose. That said, you could technically use any toy store microscope.

Pros of using this method to detect ovulation:

  • Cheaper than ovulation predictor kits.
  • Unique! (Impress people at parties. “I was checking my saliva’s ferning pattern this morning, and...”)

Cons:

  • Uncommon. Won’t be easy to find people to ask advice from.
  • Many women find it difficult to detect the ferning pattern.
  • Just as with tracking cervical mucus and using ovulation tests, noticing a ferning pattern does not guarantee that ovulation actually occurred. You may see it for several days without pinpointing your most fertile day.

What If You Don't Notice Any Ovulation Symptoms?

If you've tried these methods and you can't find ovulation symptoms, you should see your doctor. It's possible you're just missing them but you are still ovulating. However, it may be that you're not ovulating. This is called anovulation and is a possible cause of infertility. If you're not ovulating, it's also likely that your periods are irregular.

Usually, you should go see your doctor if you don't get pregnant after trying to conceive for one year. If you're age 35 or older, you should see a doctor after six months of trying to conceive.​ But if you are experiencing infertility symptoms, or you're concerned about your fertility, you don't have to wait to see your doctor. Remember that the sooner you get help, the more likely you'll have success if you need fertility treatments.

More on ovulation and getting pregnant:

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