How to pinpoint ovulation
Some time ago, the most reliable way of determining when you’re ovulating was practicing your math skills with a calendar and a pen. Needless to say, this method is not exactly accurate and is definitely not the best way to try and maximise your chances of conceiving. Nowadays, you don’t need to guess whether the time is right – sophisticated and pretty accurate tools are available and within your reach.
Before we start exploring available options, let’s take a step back and talk about ovulation for a moment.
As you may know, female menstrual cycle lasts roughly 28 days (although it can go anywhere from 21 to 35 days). Every month, a woman’s body goes through three phases depending on events happening in her ovaries or in her uterus. The ovarian cycle consists of the follicular phase, ovulation and luteal phase, whilst uterine cycle goes through menstruation, proliferative phase and secretory phase.
In short, a menstrual cycle starts with the first day of menstrual bleeding. Blood and secretions are being excreted, while wall of the uterus thickens, preparing for a possible fetus. In both ovaries, follicles are starting to develop and after a few days usually one, but sometimes both of them are becoming dominant and a possible candidate for fertilisation. A dominant follicle releases an egg – and this process is called ovulation. After the egg is released from the follicle, it only lives for 24h unless fertilised. At this stage, the endometrium (or the lining of the uterus) is preparing to accept an embryo in case the egg gets fertilised. If this doesn’t happen, uterus starts to shed its lining and the entire cycle starts again.
The fertile window or the period when chances of conceiving are highest, is from 5 days before until 1 or 2 days after ovulation. If your menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, this would be somewhere at the end of the second and the beginning of the third week. And this is what counting the fertile days is based on – you need to know how long your menstruation lasts and when was the first day of bleeding in order to determine your fertile days.
However, all of our bodies are different. Only a handful of women can say that their menstruation cycle lasts 28 days, every month. Plus, we’re always under the outside influences, stress, changes in climate, traveling, nutrition, etc. Factors are numerous. That is why counting your fertile days can sometimes work – but very often it can be completely off.
More precise methods are available
There are other methods to determine whether you’re ovulating or not. Some of them include having a journal of your basal body temperature and noticing when it peaks – those are your fertile days. Other measure cervical mucus or detect an increase in the amount of salt in your saliva using mini microscopes. The level of salt rises during your fertile days due to an increase in your oestrogen hormone. The downside of this method is that it can still give fake positive results about your fertile days – this can happen if your saliva contains more salt for any other reason (dehydration, sinus infections, salivary glands issues, etc.). Women who are experiencing a hormonal imbalance can also get confusing results.
A handy method you can use in the comfort of your home very easily, while achieving high accuracy, are LH test strips, which are able to detect a sudden increase of the LH hormone in your body during the ovulation phase.
Find a product that suits you and your lifestyle best and maximize your chances of success.