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How to track your ovulation, and why you’d want to

Posted by admin | Apr 08 2014 | 8 comments | 2 likes

While your likelihood of conception is related to age, at its peak you only have a 20-25% chance of becoming pregnant each month, though that number continues to drop with each passing cycle (source).  If you want to increase your odds of getting pregnant faster, timing is key.  Ovulation timing, that is.  Determining when your fertile window occurs will help increase your odds of conception by allowing you to time intercourse appropriately.  Various methods and the pros/cons of each are below:
Temping/Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

What is it:  Temping is the practice of taking your BBT daily to record the pattern of change.  Ovulation causes hormonal changes which increase your BBT directly after ovulation (typically .5-1 degree Fahrenheit) and cause it to remain elevated until your next menstrual cycle (creating a visible spike in the recorded temperature).  Basal thermometers (like this one: Amazon Link) allow you to track even very small changes in your temperature that might not be visible on a normal thermometer.  In order to accurately record your BBT it needs to be done at the same time every morning, before you’ve done anything to start your day (including even getting out of bed).

The pros
·   Temping is the only inexpensive, at-home method to determine IF you’re ovulating at all.  Other methods can tell you when, but the lack of temperature rise can alert you to seek further testing as it relates to ovulation.
·  It’s inexpensive.  A basal thermometer typically costs less than $15, and they usually come with a chart for recording the daily temperatures.
·  There are apps available to track the temps for you to take out any guess work as to when you’re ovulating, so really all you need to do is record the temperature daily.
The cons
·   For accuracy, temping needs to be done at the same time each morning, before any physical activity occurs.  If you’re not going to remember to do it at the same time each morning (including the weekend), then this method might not be for you.
·   In the first one or two cycles, you are simply gathering information.  By the time you learn that you’ve ovulated, you’ve already missed a significant portion of your fertile window.  You need to determine a pattern for this to be a useful method of trying to conceive, meaning you would ideally start this a few months before you start trying to conceive.
Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs)

What is it:  OPKs are kits you buy and use daily during your “potential fertile window” to help pinpoint when ovulation will occur.  They work by detecting a surge in Luteinizing Hormone (LH), which occurs approximately 36 hours before ovulation.  Depending on the brand, the instructions will typically suggest you start testing on approximately day 10 of your cycle and continue until you determine when your surge occurs.

The pros
·  OPKs are a convenient way to test when ovulation occurs.  You typically only need to test for ~5-8 days per cycle to find a positive result.
·  When used correctly you can typically pinpoint ovulation 36 hours before it occurs, giving you the optimal fertile window for conception.

The cons
·  OPKs will detect your LH surge, but cannot tell you that you have indeed ovulated, as it’s possible to create a surge without releasing an egg.
·  Depending on how many cycles you use them, OPKs can become pricey. A pack can range from $15-50. 
·  Some people have difficulty reading OPKs.  Unlike HPTs, a line present does not indicate a positive result, as LH can be present in your system at any time.  Instead you are looking for a surge of LH, therefore the test line needs to be darker than the control line.  They sell easier-to-read “smiley face” versions, but these options are pricier as well.
·  Some fertility drugs can interfere with the accuracy of OPKs, leading to false positives.
Calendar Method

What is it:  the calendar method requires you to collect data on the length of your cycle (somewhere from 6-12 months) and use this data to determine your fertile window.  Once data is collected, take the shortest cycle length and subtract 18 and then take the longest cycle length and subtract 11.  This will give you your first and last fertile day respectively.  So if your shortest cycle was 26 and your longest was 30, then your fertile window would be from day 8-19.

The pros:
·  It’s inexpensive.  It requires nothing more than record keeping
·  It’s simple

The cons
·  This method requires significant data collection, so you would need to start several months before trying to conceive. 
·  This method will not tell you that you are ovulating or when exactly you ovulate, only a window of fertility.
·  As seen in the example above, the results can pinpoint a very large range if your cycle lengths vary, and therefore it doesn’t accurately predict your true fertile window (which is normally only 6 days). 

The Cervical Mucus Method

What is it: with the cervical mucus method you can track the changes in your cervical mucus (CM) to determine when you are creating a “fertility-friendly” environment.  Your CM changes in quantity and texture directly before and during ovulation. You typically have either 1) dry 2) yellow/white/cloudy (which is also usually sticky) or 3) clear, slippery CM similar to the appearance and texture of an egg-white, which can stretch between your fingers easily (this is the necessary CM for a fertility-friendly environment).  To check your CM you can take a clean finger, insert into your vagina, and check the CM on your finger.  You will likely need to check several times a day.

The pros
·  In addition to helping you determine your fertile window, it can also help you determine if you’re making enough of the fertility-friendly mucus (and if you’re not, buying a lubricant like this which mimics the natural enviroment may be a good idea - Pre-Seed Personal Lubricant, 40 Gram Tube with 9 Applicators )
The cons
·  It may be difficult in the beginning to tell the difference between the different types of mucus until you’ve seen/experienced them all
·  The CM method doesn’t pinpoint directly when ovulation occurs, but will give you a window (though a fairly short window).  It’s best used in conjunction with a second method.
·  It’s not for the faint of heart.  If you tend to be squeamish, the act of self-examination may be difficult for you.  

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  • Marianaschroede... When women are trying to conceive, they have to take benefit of most fertile period such as 3 days prior to ovulation to 1 day afterward. It’s good time to have sex and best chance of conceiving. Fortunately, women’s body is filled of fine clues that help in knowing when ovulation is forthcoming, they just have to learn recognizing those clues. As you have already mentioned the way of identifying clues, however, I believe an ovulation prediction kit made by medical companies present at and others is useful device to chart ovulation. It keep track the luteinizing hormone occurred in urine and helps to monitor ovulation frequently.

    August 25, 2015, 07:41 am | 0 likes
  • Mgmar Like what you said, it was difficult the first time because I was confused. So I was very patient.

    September 11, 2014, 12:11 pm | 0 likes
  • Kpetrenko123 This is good information. Some things I didnt even know about. I usually keep a calendar and track, but after a miscarriage, I still havent had a period even though it was about a month ago. To me, it seems like the calendar tracking is the easiest.Great Article.

    September 11, 2014, 12:11 pm | 0 likes
  • Kpetrenko123 This is good information. Some things I didnt even know about. I usually keep a calendar and track, but after a miscarriage, I still havent had a period even though it was about a month ago. To me, it seems like the calendar tracking is the easiest.Great Article.

    September 11, 2014, 12:11 pm | 0 likes
  • Sapphiresoda My cycle is pretty regular, but some months it'll be a few days longer or shorter. I've been trying to keep track of things via the calendar method since I don't really want to spend the extra money on OPKs.

    September 10, 2014, 11:13 am | 0 likes
  • Alee1972 I had started keep tracking when we were trying for our 4th baby,but i was so busy with my 3 kids and always forgot take temperature,and after 2 misscariages and medical problems i cant have or carry baby on my own,without risk my life.My last my daughter was born at 11 lbs at birth and my uterus is very bad shape if i had a baby my uterus would rupture.

    September 10, 2014, 11:13 am | 0 likes
  • Belle I had a hard time remembering to take my BC every day, (so I doubt I'll be trying temping) that's one reason why I just decided to get off it. I have been tracking my cycles for nearly 1 1/2 years. I want to try the OPK to see what or if there is a big difference.

    September 10, 2014, 11:13 am | 0 likes
  • Ashleysumners My cycle is kind of regular, but then it will throw a random off month in there to mess everything up. I don't want to pay for ovulation tests, so we'll just have to get lucky!

    September 10, 2014, 11:13 am | 0 likes