- Fertility & Reproductive Systems
How Do I Know If I Ovulated?
There are two essentials to being able to get pregnant - one is that you need to be ovulating (i.e. releasing an egg) and the second is that you need to be having unprotected sex around the time that you are ovulating.
For this reason it is pretty important to not only know when you are ovulating, but also if you have ovulated at all.
Ovulation essentially means that an egg is released from your ovary and passes down the fallopian tube where it can be fertilised by sperm and then move on to the womb.
How To Tell if You Ovulated
There are a couple of ways to tell if you ovulated and some things that might give you an indication that you ovulated.
The Scientific Way
The scientific way to test this is to go for blood tests. This particular blood test is carried out on day 21 of your cycle and it measures the levels of progesterone in your system.
However, if your doctor does this test for you then you do need to make sure he knows how long your cycles are. The idea is to do the test on day 21 as this in theory is 7 days after you should have ovulated.
However, if you have much longer cycles than 28 days, it may well be that day 21 is too close to your ovulation date to get an accurate test of the progesterone level (for example if you ovulate on day 19 of your cycle the test would need to be done on day 26). You would therefore need to let the doctor know that your cycles are not 28 days and arrange for the test to be done on the right day for your cycle.
Another way that you can tell if you ovulated (and this is something you can do for yourself at home) is if you are taking your temperature every morning.
Taking your temperature every morning is a good way to keep track of what is happening in your cycle and can pinpoint ovulation for you.
You need to take your temperature with a at the point that you wake up every morning, before you get out of bed and preferably at the same time each day. This type of thermometer gives more accurate and specific readings than a standard one. Ideally you should measure to 2 decimal places. basal body thermometer
You then mark down your temperature each morning on a chart and you can see from the results pretty accurately when ovulation has occurred.
Once ovulation happens you will experience a shift in temperatures upwards, and this will last for most of the rest of your cycle. There are a few websites and apps where you can track your daily temperatures so that you can see what is happening in your cycle.
By tracking your temperature using a basal body thermometer you can see if you have an anovulatory cycle (no egg is produced) or an ovulatory one. All you need to do is to enter your temperatures on the chart and see if there is a definite increase in your temperature mid-way through your cycle.
Example of an Ovulatory Chart
Example of a Chart Where Ovulation Did Not Occur
Other Methods to Detect Ovulation
Ovulation Test Strips
One other way to detect ovulation is to use Ovulation Tests. The ones that I used (and they happened to be the cheapest which is good if you need to test a lot), were these . simple ovulation test strips
Just before you ovulate there will be a surge in the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) and this hormone can be measured by ovulation detector strips and monitors.
These ovulation strips are simple tests that you dip in urine around the time you expect to ovulate to see how much hormone is present. You will get a very dark line on the test strip when you have the most LH in your body and thus at the time you are about to ovulate.
I found these really easy to use and accurate (as far as I could tell) but I needed to use them a few times a day once the lines started to get a bit darker on the test strips so that I did not miss my surge.
If you use these strips in the few days around the middle of your cycle then you can get a really good idea of when ovulation is likely to happen. If you have no idea when you will ovulate then it is worth starting to test with these strips on about day 10 of your cycle.
You will need to test at least twice a day as the peak time can come on quite quickly so you don't want to miss it. Once the strip has both lines as dark as each other then you will ovulate in the next 36 hours.
As you can see in the tests below, if I hadn't tested in the afternoon on the Friday, I may have missed my LH surge.
Being able to get advance warning of ovulation gives you a much better chance at getting pregnant.
If you use the test strips in conjunction with taking your temperature you will get a good overview of what is happening in your body.
It should be noted that even if you get a positive test for the LH hormone you will not necessarily ovulate - you need to confirm this with a shift upwards in your temperature.
You can also get much more complex ovulation monitors like the ClearBlue ovulation monitor. There have been many good reviews about these monitors but they are not particularly cheap and they do need a few months to get to know your body. They work in the same way as the test strips in measuring the LH in your urine, but the monitor gets to know your cycles and consequently knows when to get you to test more frequently.
Whichever method you use can give you an idea of when ovulation might have occurred.