I like to think I’m pretty in tune with my body. I know how beverages like alcohol affect my sleep and I know how foods like sugar wreak havoc on my mood. (In both cases, it’s not good.) I can also tell when my period is coming and when I’m ovulating.
Besides feeling super frisky (oh hey, fellas), there are some ovulation signs and ovulation symptoms, like ovulation bleeding, that may help you figure out whether or not you’re ovulating. Here’s how you can tell if you’re ovulating.
What is ovulation and when do you ovulate?
Ovulation is one of four phases of your monthly cycle. There’s the follicular phase, ovulation, the luteal phase, and menstruation. According to the Mayo Clinic, ovulation happens when an egg leaves the ovaries and travels to the fallopian tubes where it can be fertilized by sperm.
When exactly do you ovulate? Well, just like with anything involving the human body, everyone is different — but ovulation usually occurs in the middle of your monthly cycle, roughly about two weeks before your period begins.
Although this timeframe can vary from person to person, it can also vary for the same person from month to month. Ovulation can be tricky to track, but there are ovulation signs and ovulation symptoms you can pay attention to help you identify when you’re ovulating.
Ovulation signs and ovulation symptoms
Bloating is one of the less common ovulation signs, but it can happen for some individuals. Bloating most usually occurs in the luteal phase or during menstruation, so it’s not exactly the most reliable ovulation symptom. Experiencing a bout of bloat? Try these foods to help reduce bloat.
2. Breast tenderness
Again, not the most reliable ovulation sign, but some people report sore nipples and tender breasts around the time of their ovulation phase. If you experience breast tenderness or sore nipples, free the girls and go braless for a few days. (Plus, there are some benefits to going braless!) It may help relieve any sensitivity you may be feeling during this time.
3. Changes in basal body temperature (BBT)
Basal body temperature is your body’s temperature at rest. When you ovulate, your BBT increases ever so slightly. The easiest way to track your BBT is to use a special thermometer and a tracking app.
Kimberly Langdon, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist with 19 years of clinical experience, says BBT will show a noticeable .5 – 1°F increase from the baseline body temperature. This method, on the other hand, is heavily dependent on the user. To obtain accurate results, Langdon says BBT should be measured upon waking up and at the same time every day. BBT should also be used in conjunction with other methods of determining ovulation to improve its accuracy.
When I used to track my monthly cycles, I used a thermometer and tracking app from Natural Cycles, the only FDA-cleared birth control app with zero side effects and no prescription needed. (I highly recommend it.) Oh, and for the record, you’re most fertile two to three days before your BBT begins to rise.
4. Changes in cervical mucus
Just before ovulation, you may notice a change in your vaginal secretions. According to the Mayo Clinic, right before you ovulate, you may notice an increase in clear, stretchy, wet vaginal secretions. After you ovulate, cervical mucus decreases and becomes cloudy, less noticeable, and thicker.
Langdon says this method, also known as the Billings ovulation method, is effective and cost-efficient. It’s been proven to be a reliable indicator of ovulation. However, it requires instruction from a health professional to increase user confidence.
5. Increased sex drive
Ahh, my favorite ovulation sign — an increased sex drive. That’s right: If you find yourself feeling more confident, frisky, and sexy, then you may be ovulating. Take advantage and have some fun with your partner or yourself — but just be sure to use protection if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy. But if you’re trying to conceive, well then, have at it.
6. LH peak in urine test kits
These over-the-counter kits detect the presence of a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH), which occurs 30-40 hours before ovulation, explains Langdon. The release of an egg from the ovary that’s ready to be fertilized is signaled by an increase in LH levels. The mucus method, in conjunction with urine LH test kits, increases the likelihood of accurately timing ovulation.
7. Ovulation pain (mittelschmerz)
Now, my least favorite ovulation symptom — ovulation pain. Also known as mittelschmerz, pelvic discomfort and pain can accompany ovulation in some women. This pain can range from slight pelvic discomfort to mild cramps to a twinging feeling.
These sensations vary in intensity and location from month to month. The discomfort may last for only a few moments, but some people experience discomfort for longer periods of time. My best advice — grab a heating pad and use it just as you would for menstrual cramps. Seriously, it works wonders.
The bottom line: Not everyone may be able to detect ovulation signs and ovulation symptoms — but the next time you track your cycle and think you may be ovulating, review these signs and symptoms and honor your body’s natural cycles as you ovulate.