Are you really Ovulating?

Photo by Luna Dietrich

Whether you are trying to get pregnant or trying to avoid it, getting to know the bodily changes that indicate ovulation can be extremely useful. The “Fertility Awareness Method” uses your body’s natural function to determine your most fertile days (around ovulation) as a means to help you prevent pregnancy or to target the most fertile time to get pregnant. However, this doesn’t mean it should be the only technique you use as a method of birth control or to help you conceive.

1. Track your basal body temperature (BBT)

Your basal body temperature is your temperature when you first wake up in the morning, before getting out of bed. When you ovulate, hormonal changes trigger a slight rise (about 0.2 degrees celsius) in your BBT which lasts until your next period. If your temperature doesn’t slightly rise at least three days in a row, you’re probably not ovulating.

This is a very common and ancient technique to monitor fertility, but there are several factors that can alter your BBT, such as taking painkillers like paracetamol, being ill, drinking alcohol the night before, taking your temperature at a different time each day, stress, or travelling.

2. Check the position of your cervix

Your cervix goes through significant changes throughout your menstrual cycle. As you approach ovulation, the cervix is higher up and becomes softer and more open to allow sperm to enter. Once ovulation occurs, the cervix drops lower, becomes more tightly closed and is more firm. During your menstrual bleeding, the cervix is hard, low and slightly open to allow the blood to flow out.

3. Monitor you cervical mucus

Hormonal changes throughout your cycle also change the amount and consistency of your cervical fluids. In the days leading to ovulation, estrogen levels are at its highest, which creates wet and slippery mucus. The so-called “fertile-quality cervical mucus” is clear and stretchy, similar to the consistency of egg whites, which is a perfect protective medium for sperm in terms of texture and pH. Having enough of this “egg white” cervical mucus during this fertile window is key to increase your chances of conceiving. After ovulation, progesterone levels start rising, progressively producing a thicker mucus, which decrease your chances of conceiving. After the menstrual cycle, many women experience “dryness” until approaching ovulation once more.

By noticing your bodily changes throughout your cycle you will be able to identity your most fertile days either because you are trying to conceive or if your aren’t, when to be extra careful. You will also know if your body is receiving all the health benefits of ovulating monthly, such as helping prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, and breast cancer, which you don’t get if you are taking the birth control pill.