9 Signs of Ovulation to Look for (Ovulation Symptoms Guide)
Ovulation symptoms vary among women but it’s important to be familiar with the way it works and what to look for even if you’re not TTC. In this article we’ll give you an overview of how ovulation works and break down the signs and symptoms of ovulation.
A better understanding of ovulation will not only give you more insight into your menstrual cycle, but it can help you get pregnant faster by detecting your most fertile time. After all, whether you’re trying to conceive (TTC) or trying to avoid pregnancy (TTA), there are only a limited number of baby making days per cycle and you want to make informed decisions.
Is it possible to know when you’re ovulating?
Yes, it is absolutely possible to know when you are ovulating. The most reliable way is through hormone tracking and testing. Luteinizing hormone (LH) levels experience a significant rise approximately 24-36 hours before ovulation, and estrogen levels rise approximately 1-3 days before the surge in LH.
Hormone trackers, Ovulation prediction kits (OPK’s) and even an ultrasound at your doctor’s office can all make it possible to know when you’re ovulating, but involve varying degrees of expense and convenience (learn more about early ovulation here).
During ovulation, one of the ovaries releases an egg that then travels down a fallopian tube, where it can then be fertilized by a sperm. The timing of this process naturally fluctuates from month to month, which is why learning the signs that you’re ovulating can prove extremely helpful if you’re TTC or TTA.
Ovulation pain can be an irritating symptom of ovulation. Also known as mittelschmerz (German for “middle pain”), this pain may occur on a day before, during, or after ovulation.
Only one in five women experience ovulation pain. Pain-related to ovulation should feel mildly irritating and extreme pain is not normal. Severe pain can be a sign of ovarian cyst rupture, pelvic adhesions, endometriosis or other health issues. That is why ovulation pain is not generally viewed as a healthy method to track ovulation.
Symptoms of ovulation pain:
- Lower abdominal pain or tickling sensation, right beside the hip bone
- Pain begins about two weeks before your menstrual cycle is expected to start
- Pain on the left, or right side. This depends on the side the ovary which is releasing the egg
- The side of pain can alternate between cycles or stay on one side for several cycles
- Ovulation pain is commonly described as uneasy pressure or sharp cramps
- Pain can last from a few minutes up to 48 hours
Change in BBT
The basal body temperature drops before ovulation with a quick increase quickly after ovulation. Charting your menstrual cycle daily is essential for tracking your basal body temperature which means checking your basal body temperature (BBT) every morning, close to the same time every day.
BBT is a difficult method because it is typically less reliable than other methods. The basal method can be influenced by a variety of factors: stress, fevers, alcohol, or prescription medications.
Another issue is that BBT rises after ovulation occurs. Nevertheless, the fertile window starts from 4-5 days before ovulation and lasts till the day of ovulation. Once the egg is released, it only lives for up to 12-24 hours. Thus BBT is a good method to confirm ovulation, but it is not good at predicting ovulation or detecting the fertile window.
When nearing ovulation, the level of LH increases to help to release the egg from the ovary. This is known as the LH surge and ovulation occurs about 24-36 hours after this happens. You are at your peak fertility when LH surges and tracking the hormone can provide a significant sign that your fertile window is approaching.
Ovulation predictor kits (OPK) are urine-based tests that can be used at home to help detect upcoming ovulation. These kits work by detecting the levels of luteinizing hormone in your urine.
Mira fertility tracker can help you track when you are fertile and non-fertile even with variable cycles. OPKs may work for some women, but if your hormone levels are outside of average levels they will not be a reliable predictor of ovulation. Mira measures your actual fertility hormone concentrations and shows your unique hormone curve on the app. Unlike typical ovulation predictor kits, Mira’s algorithm learns your unique cycle. This means you are unlikely to miss your ovulation even if your cycle varies.
Change in cervical mucus
Cervical mucus is discharged by glands within and surrounding the cervix. A woman undergoes hormonal changes during her reproductive cycle that affect the amount and texture of the cervical mucus. Around ovulation, you may notice that cervical secretion is clear, sketchy, and slick – similar to egg whites. These changes are then used to predict ovulation.
Change in cervix position
As ovulation approaches, the texture and position of your cervix may change as well. On the days leading up to ovulation, the cervix tends to move higher up into the body and becomes softer and moist. This change happens because the reproductive system is adapting for couples to use ideal sex positions for conception.
However, this method is quite low-tech and fails to use precise measurements. Most of the time, the cervical position is measured with fingers. In addition, the cervix position changes during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, which may be misleading. It can also be affected by exercise, diet, and stress.
Changes in saliva
Estrogen levels increase as you approach ovulation, which also coincides with an increase in sodium levels. When sodium levels increase, you can notice changes in your saliva known as ferning or crystallization. Under a microscope the actual pattern in your saliva will look like a fern leaf, much like frost on a windowpane, and is a sign ovulation is approaching.
Changes in libido
Although your sex drive can be influenced by many things, some women find that they have a change in their libido around the time of ovulation. An increase in your sex drive might just be an evolutionary drive to encourage procreation and it’s not just your libido that goes up. Physical changes like a shift in the bone structure of a woman’s face and the swing of her hips occur in response to ovulation as nature’s way of getting you to have sex at the ideal time for conception.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, breast tenderness is a secondary symptom of ovulation. It’s not as common as primary symptoms like basal body temperature or changes in cervical fluid but many of the hormones involved in ovulation also affect breast tissue. Also known as mastalgia, breast pain and soreness around ovulation is likely due to the cascade of fertility hormones that drive the process. More research is needed to explore the direct causes of mastalgia around ovulation.
Headaches and nausea
A well-known sign of early pregnancy, nausea can also occur around the time of ovulation. Changing levels of estrogen and progesterone can wreak havoc on your system and play a role in nausea and vomiting. Some women also experience headaches around this time too due to the hormone changes.
Signs ovulation has already occurred
You may be comfortable predicting ovulation and your fertile window, but how do you know when ovulation has already occurred? Some signs that ovulation is over include changes in the consistency of cervical mucus and basal body temperature, as well as changes to urine hormone concentration or the position of the cervix.
Hormone tracking and testing can confirm that ovulation has occurred as estrogen and LH levels decrease dramatically or return to their baseline. To confirm ovulation is over, you can test for the presence of progesterone approximately 6-8 days after ovulation. Progesterone levels are at their highest and elevated levels are an indication that ovulation was successful.
When should you take a pregnancy test if TTC?
It is recommended to take a pregnancy test no earlier than 12 days past ovulation (DPO). Taking a pregnancy test at the wrong time can not only lead to incorrect results it might even cause unnecessary feelings of disappointment. Taking a test too early can lead to a false-negative result.
Can you feel ovulation?
About 1 out of 5 women experience sensations in their abdomen around ovulation. Some women feel nothing at all while others experience one or more painful sensations in the abdomen. Also known as mittelschmerz, the German word meaning middle, ovulation pain is unique to every woman but if you experience severe pain there may be another cause and you should see your doctor.
How long does ovulation last?
The process surrounding ovulation typically lasts 24-36 hours. For most women this process typically occurs once per cycle, but in rare cases it is possible to ovulate multiple times in one cycle.
Once the egg is released from an ovary, it can only survive for 12-24 hours if it’s not fertilized by a sperm. If it’s not fertilized, the egg will disintegrate and is shed alongside the uterine lining during the menstrual period. If the egg is fertilized by a sperm, it may result in a pregnancy.
Can I have ovulation symptoms even if I’m on the pill?
In general, you do not ovulate if you’re regularly taking birth control. Your ovulation will stop and the bleeding you may experience is from withdrawal rather than a “real” period. Sometimes the symptoms you might associate with ovulation can occur even though ovulation is still suppressed.
After ovulation, how do I know if I’m pregnant?
Some women may begin to feel signs of pregnancy as early as five days before their expected period, but that may also be from a chemical pregnancy rather than a viable one. On average you should wait at least two weeks after ovulation to take a pregnancy test or until the first day of your missed period.