Accurate and reliable cycle tracking methods, such as hormonal observation, can help you know exactly when your ovulation occurs and thus the best time to try and get pregnant. In addition to hormonal tracking, you can also observe the following symptoms of ovulation:
Pain in the lower abdomen may occur because of the rupture of the follicle when the egg is released during the time of ovulation. A woman may feel slight or heavy cramping which lasts from minutes to hours. If you experience severe, long-lasting pain, however, it is recommended that you see a doctor. The doctor may perform an abdominal or pelvic examination in order to rule out other possible causes of pain such as endometriosis, fibroids or ovarian cysts.
Increased sexual desire
Several studies have found that women experience an increase in sexual desire around the time of ovulation, when they are most fertile . This is thought to happen because of a rise in estradiol levels, which causes some women to have an increased sex drive.
Some women experience tenderness in their breasts just before or after ovulation. This can sometimes be confusing, as breast tenderness is also one of the first pregnancy symptoms. In both situations, it is related to the change in hormone levels in your body, as it gets ready for ovulation or for a potential pregnancy.
Headache and/or Nausea
Unfortunately some women may experience nausea and headaches during ovulation. These symptoms are caused by changing estrogen and progesterone levels during ovulation.
Cervical mucus changes
Cervical mucus, also known as cervical fluid (CF) is a natural and normal substance that is produced by glands in your cervix and then released into the vagina. The appearance and consistency of cervical mucus varies during different stages of the menstrual cycle. As you enter your fertile window, under the effect of estrogen, women experience an increased amount of vaginal discharge that resembles raw egg whites in consistency. You can observe this change in mucus production by testing the discharge with your fingers. Try putting the external watery mucus between your thumb and finger and then stretching your fingers apart. This stretchy, egg white mucus is noted around the time of ovulation.
Ovulation bleeding can be alarming, but is actually a common symptom of ovulation. Variations in sex- hormone levels are hypothesized to be associated with bleeding patterns, and therefore usually do not require treatment. However, if you have mid-cycle bleeding with heavy spotting, severe cramping, repeated bleeding episodes, or bleeding that lasts more than a few days, it is recommended to consult your doctor. These types of monthly cycle bleeding may be due to other complications or underlying conditions.
A slight rise of Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
Your BBT is a healthy body's temperature when at rest. After ovulation, high levels of progesterone will cause your BBT to rise slightly and stay elevated until the end of your cycle. The shift happens about one to two days after ovulation. Since it occurs after your ovulation, measuring your BBT enables you to figure out whether you have ovulated, but it does not help you determine the best time to try to conceive. At this point, the fertile window has passed and it is probably too late to try to conceive. The best time to have sex in order to get pregnant is just before the egg is released.
A positive Ovulation Predictor Kit (OPK) result
Keeping track of your hormonal levels during the menstrual cycle is the best way to estimate your possible time of ovulation. Choosing an OPK that allows you to monitor your hormones (the more, the better), will give you the most accurate information about your cycle. Following manufacturer’s instructions carefully will help you to accurately identify the “fertile window” and the optimal time frame to have intercourse in order to maximize your chances of getting pregnant. An average OPK will show you, if your Luteinizing Hormone (LH) level is peaking- but it is actually better to test more hormones than just LH, such as follicle stimulation hormone (FSH) and progesterone (PdG). By measuring more hormones you can pinpoint your ovulation and fertile days more accurately, which increases your chances to conceive.
Regan, P. C. (1996). Rhythms of desire: The association between menstrual cycle phases and female sexual desire. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 5(3).
E.L. Billings, J.B. Brown, J.J. Billings, H.G. Burger, (1972):Symptoms and hormonal changes accompanying ovulation. Vol. 299, Issue 7745, 282-284.