How do I know if I've ovulated?

By Rebecca Matthews, PhD | Last updated: April 11, 2017

Knowing the exact time to have sex when you are trying to get pregnant can sometimes be a mystery, especially if your cycles aren't regular. One of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to know when to have sex is to keep an eye on changes in your cervical mucus. When it becomes much thinner and more slippery and stretchy, this is the perfect time to conceive.

A lot of people ask how to tell if they have actually ovulated each month... after all there are not many outwards signs. One way to know if you have ovulated is to measure your basal body temperature (BBT). A slight rise in temperature indicates that ovulation has taken place. If you keep track of your basal body temperature every day you will start to notice these changes taking place. You will need to buy a special thermometer and keep track of your temperature every day for a few months.

Another way to see if ovulation is going to take place is to use an ovulation predictor kit (OPK), you can buy these from a pharmacy. If you see a positive surge on your ovulation prediction kit, this is a sign that you will likely ovulate the next day. The day you see the positive surge is the best day to have intercourse. Don't wait too long or you might miss the window.

The only medical way to know for certain that you have ovulated is to do a blood test during the second half of the cycle (usually around Day 21) and measure the level of progesterone. Once ovulation has taken place, the empty follicle produces progesterone. A high level of progesterone is a good indicator that ovulation has taken place.

Ultrasound can also determine if and when ovulation has taken place; the ultrasound will show whether there is an empty follicle on the ovary where the egg was released.

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Written by Rebecca Matthews, PhD | Embryologist

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Dr. Rebecca Matthews has a PhD in embryo implantation and currently works as an embryologist. Rebecca is passionate about her work and about educating and empowering people to take control of their own healthcare decisions. With this in mind, she has written an IVF guidebook to help patients understand the processes and options involved in fertility treatments. Her book, IVF: A Patient's Guide, can be found on Amazon.

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