- 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 a week 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). 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 at the point that you wake up every morning, before you get out of bed and preferably at the same time each day.
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 this 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 that allow you to track your daily temperatures and will give you directions as to how to do this and Fertility Friend is one of the most popular.
By tracking your temperature using something like Fertility Friend 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 and they will tell you the rest. They also have a mobile app to enter temperatures into and to analyse your cycle.
Example of an Ovulatory Chart
Example of a Chart Where Ovulation Did Not Occur
Other Methods to Detect Ovulation
Ovulation Test Strips
There are other things that you can use to detect ovulation - 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. They are very cheap and easy to get hold of (see below).
Buy Ovulation Test Strips
These ovulation test strips are easy to use and cheap so that you can check when you are going to ovulate and time sex accordingly.
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.
However, it should be noted that even if you get a positive test for the LH hormone you will not necessarily ovulate - you will need to confirm this with a shift 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.
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