Your period is not the main event of your cycle, ovulation is! Without ovulation, you wouldn’t experience the cascade of hormonal events that trigger your next period. The time between ovulation and your next period (or the luteal phase) remains relatively the same for you each cycle (anywhere between 9-17 days). Once you ovulate, the hormonal events that occur tell the body to prepare the uterine lining to host a potential fertilized egg. If fertilization doesn’t happen, the hormone progesterone dips, and your period arrives.
While ovulation is key for getting pregnant, I can’t overestimate the importance of ovulation, whether or not you’re trying to get pregnant. Ovulation is key to indicating the health of your hormones as well as your overall health. Your hormones are connected to your overall health, and a sign that your hormones are in good communication with your reproductive system is regular ovulation.
There are many different ways to track and identify ovulation. If you’re trying to conceive, you’ll want to pay attention to when ovulation is about to happen, because once an egg is released, it only lives for 24-48 hours. Becoming more aware of where you are in your cycle and tracking several fertility signs will optimize your chances of getting pregnant.
You can chart your cycle either on a paper chart or in an app. I always recommend turning off app predictions if you’re charting in an app. This is because no app can predict when you are going to ovulate. With basal body temperature, we can know after ovulation has happened due to the presence of progesterone in the body, but we can never predict before ovulation has happened. Apps that I recommend as a fertility awareness educator empower users to learn how to chart themselves. These are apps like Kindara, Ovuview, Fertility Friend or the forthcoming Read Your Body app.
Ovulation does not occur on day 14 for every woman. The date of ovulation varies from woman to woman, and if you are stressed, travelling, have PCOS, have just come off hormonal birth control, or are in the postpartum phase, ovulation can be delayed. Some women just ovulate earlier than other women, and this is because we are human - not robots! Paying attention to your cycles and when you ovulate will help you identify the optimal time to conceive, but it will also clue you into why you might feel the way you do on certain days of your cycle.
Top Ovulation Systems
While the only way to confirm the exact time of ovulation is through ultrasound, the timeframe can be narrowed to within a few days by tracking the following fertility markers:
Cervical mucus is a hydrogel secreted by your cervix. Just like your body responds to cyclical hormone levels, so does your cervix. As ovulation approaches, levels of estrogen rise and trigger a certain type of cervical mucus, called peak type mucus. Around the time of ovulation, your cervix will produce peak type mucus because it facilitates sperm reaching the egg. Without cervical mucus, sperm would die in the vagina before being able to make their way to the egg.
Tracking your cervical mucus, especially when you notice peak type mucus (or stretchy, clear or partly clear, lubricative, watery mucus) will let you know that it is around the time of ovulation. The day of your most fertile mucus (the day you notice the most peak mucus before you switch to dry or non-peak mucus) is the optimal day for intercourse if you are trying to get pregnant.
While cervical mucus is impacted by the cyclical hormones present throughout your cycle, your cervical position also reflects the rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone during your cycle. As ovulation approaches, your cervix will become high, soft and open.
Some women experience a little bit of spotting at the time of ovulation. This is nothing to be concerned about and is completely normal. It may look like bright red blood mixed in with cervical mucus. The presence of ovulatory spotting indicates that ovulation is about to or has just occurred.
Ovulation Pain or Mittelschmerz
Another sign of ovulation is something that some women may experience around the time of ovulation: ovulatory pain, or mittelschmerz. Ovulation pain may occur prior to or at the time that an egg is released, but the cause is not known. Two possible causes are that the developing follicle (egg) stretches the ovary as it grows, or that blood released at ovulation irritates the abdomen. The pain may occur on either side of the uterus, depending on which ovary the developing follicle is in. Keep in mind that ovulation pain can happen for several days leading up to ovulation.
Changes in mood and energy
While not a definitive sign of ovulation, by tracking your cycle and the changes in mood from day-to-day, you may notice that you feel the same around ovulation from cycle to cycle. The presence of estrogen may increase your energy, creativity, motivation and libido. Read here for more on the changes of mood throughout the cycle.
If you'd like to learn more about FABM, including how to chart your cycle and identify your fertility window, download Tempdrop's free Introduction to Fertility Awareness, a beautifully-designed guide written by seven certified fertility educators.
Nathalie Daudet is a social worker and FEMM instructor based in Winnipeg, Canada. She discovered fertility awareness after searching high and low for a non-hormonal method of birth control. After learning the magic of fertility awareness and the gift of body literacy, she decided to pursue formal fertility awareness training and share the knowledge of fertility awareness with women looking for a natural birth control option. Fertility Awareness Project is the hub for Nathalie’s FEMM classes in both group and individual formats, online and in person in Winnipeg. If you love this post and would like to thank Nathalie, shop Tempdrop with Nathalie's unique referral link.