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Tracking Fertility: Determining Ovulation

Close up of young woman calculating menstrual cycle using mobile app and holding pregnancy test

It can feel like you are learning a new language when entering the world of trying to conceive (TTC). Determining ovulation can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if you have been trying to conceive for some time. This can look different from person to person, let’s talk more about when ovulation is occurring and when you can start testing for pregnancy. 

When is ovulation occurring?

Ovulation occurs around the middle of your cycle, with the start of menstruation counting as day 1. Your cycle length can vary from 20 days to 35 days and can vary month to month. Start with tracking the start of your period each month and get a better estimate of how long your cycle lasts. You can use a calendar or an app to help keep track of your cycle. You are likely already tracking this; I won’t pretend like you don’t have some awareness of your own menstrual cycle. Getting the exact days down will help you understand the fluctuations between the months and give a good perspective on when to expect ovulation to occur. 

Signs and symptoms that indicate ovulation include: 

  • Changes in cervical mucus – mucus starts to get thinner, watery, stretcher, egg white consistency (yes like chicken eggs)
  • Positive result on an ovulation predictor kit – if you are using an at home ovulation predictor kit, you will be looking for a peak or positive result depending on the test. 
  • Slight increase in basal body temperature – Basal body temperature is hard to track, but if you get the hang of it, a very small increase in temperature, by 1 or 2 degrees, can indicate that ovulation has occurred. 
  • Increased sex drive – some people report having a higher libido around ovulation. If you find yourself feeling a bit spicy and it’s around the middle of your cycle, this could be another sign that you are approaching ovulation. 

After ovulation occurs, you will want sperm to be present within 24-48 hours. After that time the egg will start to breakdown as it moves through the fallopian tube and is ultimately released with the uterine lining during menstruation. 

How to count the days past ovulation

This is a manual count from the when you believe ovulation has occurred. This can be confirmed by at home ovulation predictor kits or in an office by a healthcare provider. Then each day that passes is the number of days you are DPO, or days past ovulation. For example, if you ovulate on day 14 of your cycle, day 15 is 1 day past ovulation. 

When should I take a pregnancy test?

About 14 days after ovulation, you will get the most accurate results from an at home pregnancy test. Around this time, you can expect your next period to start if you are not pregnant. Some people do see a faint positive result 10 or 11 days past ovulation, but a negative result in these early days does not necessarily mean you are not pregnant. 

Because all our bodies are unique, it is important to note that tracking ovulation may not be easy for everyone. Ovulation predictor kits rely on a specific set of ranges for hormones, so if your hormone levels are outside of that set range, you may not be able to see a peak or positive result. Tracking cervical mucus can be awkward, and even during ovulation the consistency can change throughout the day. And we all know, sex drive is more than hormones, and low drive does not mean you are not ovulating (you just may not be in the mood!). Remember your healthcare team is the best place for you to get accurate medical results about what your body is doing. 

Author

  • Alyse Mencias

    Alyse graduated from Eastern Virginia Medical School, earning a Master's in Clinical Reproductive Science. With a background in supporting fertility clinics and crafting educational resources for patient care, she brings a wealth of experience to her work. She was diagnosed with secondary infertility igniting her passion for enhancing accessibility and outcomes in fertility care. Committed to fostering diversity and inclusion in the field, Alyse advocates tirelessly for a more equitable landscape in reproductive

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Alyse Mencias

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