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how to know if you're ovulating

How to Know if You’re Ovulating

Timing intercourse around ovulation is the key both to trying to conceive effectively, and avoiding pregnancy (in the absence of more reliable birth control). Throughout the ovulation cycle, a woman’s degree of fertility fluctuates. Her most fertile days are the days just before ovulation, the day of ovulation, and possibly the day after. (You can figure out which days you might be ovulating during your cycle by following our guide here.)

But if you haven’t mastered the calendar, or don’t remember the dates of your last period, how else might you know if you’re ovulating? Your body sends a handful signs — some obscure, some obvious — before and during ovulation that can help you track your cycle and get pregnant (or not).

Signs of ovulation

Raised basal temperature

Basal body temperature, or the lowest temperature the body hits in a 24-hour period (usually just when you wake up), follows the same pattern across each monthly menstrual cycle. Basal body temperature is fairly consistent most of the month, then may drop slightly before ovulation — but increases dramatically during ovulation. If you track your basal body temperature over time and recognize these patterns, you will be able to pinpoint, with decent accuracy, the days when ovulation is occurring (and you are most fertile).

“Egg-white” discharge

Sounds delightful, doesn’t it? Cervical fluids change just a few days before ovulation, so any noticeable change in the texture of that discharge — becoming clearer and stickier, resembling raw egg whites — can be a symptom that ovulation is about to occur.

Cervical changes

Most women would have no practical means for knowing when this occurs, but the cervix changes shape and firmness during ovulation. It opens and softens, to allow for sperm to pass more easily.

Secondary, or less reliable, symptoms of ovulation include:

  • Physical pain/cramping
  • Spotting
  • Breast tenderness
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Heightened senses
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