15 Dec 4 Ways to Predict Ovulation
If you’re trying to get pregnant (or avoid pregnancy), it helps to know exactly when you ovulate and when you’re most fertile. Remember how I said Apps can’t tell you exactly when you ovulate? (link) Well, this post is going to give you some great guidance on how to PREDICT ovulation.
Some quick facts:
- The fertile window is only about FIVE days per month! Four days BEFORE ovulation, and the 24 hours after ovulation. (Someone please tell me why we didn’t learn this is sex ed and were conned into thinking that we could get pregnant any old time?!)
- Sperm can survive in the female reproductive tract for an average of 5 days, which is why it’s a good idea to have sex in the days BEFORE ovulation
- Once the egg is released, it’s only viable for about 24 hours
So HOW can you predict ovulation and get this baby dance timed perfectly??
1.Ovulation Prediction Kits (aka OPKs)-
The OPK is a simple, at-home urine test that measures a Luteinizing Hormone (LH), which surges 24-36 hour before ovulation. A peak day is usually indicated by a line as dark or darker than the control line if using a test strip or a solid smiley face if using the Clear Blue Digital.
Be forewarned that OPKs may not work well for people with irregular menstrual cycles or PCOS! In these cases, using the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is a more reliable way of predicting ovulation.
Why don’t OPKs work for some folks with PCOS? Well that hormone, LH, is often elevated in people with PCOS, so the OPKs look like they are constantly positive in this scenario. I often get asked, “Why does it look like I’m ALWAYS ovulating?” Or “Can I ovulate twice in a cycle, because the OPK says I did?”
This may be an unpopular opinion, but I never recommend using OPKs alone for ovulation prediction.
2. Cervical Fluid/Mucus (CM)
The influence of estrogen in the follicular phase promotes changes in the fluid produced by the cervix.
After your period, the cervical fluid will usually be dry to minimal, then changes to sticky, lotion-like, and finally fertile quality.
Fertile CM has a slippery, wet, often egg white texture that can be observed when wiping after using the bathroom (or really any time you feel inclined to check!). If you feel a slick glide (vs a drag) when wiping from front to back, that’s a good sign of fertile CM.
You may see it abbreviated as EWCM (egg white cervical mucus). If you see this, think SPERM HIGHWAY. It’s literally what allows sperm to get from point A to point B regardless of gravity or peeing after sex.
If you feel slippery CM, that’s the time to baby dance 💃
There’s some individual variations in CM, so what is most important is that you start paying attention and recording so you can start learning about your body. It takes a couple months to figure this out for most people.
If I could choose just ONE predictor of fertile days in the cycle, cervical fluid would be it!
Why? Well you can get a positive OPK but if there’s no fertile CM to help the sperm get where it needs to go, then we have some work to do. We need to run some tests to confirm when ovulation is happening, and we may need to support healthy cervical fluid production.
3. Cervical Position (CP)
This is the one people tell me they are most squeamish about, but when CM is difficult to see changes in, CP can give us great insight into the fertile window.
The cervix undergoes subtle changes throughout the cycle that can help identify when someone is most fertile. Just after your period, and then again after ovulation, the cervix is usually low, firm and closed.
Near ovulation, the cervix is soft, high, open and wet (you can use the acronym S.H.O.W. to help remember this).
For step by step instructions on observing your cervical position, Very Well Health has a great post here.
4. Salivary Ferning–
During the ovulatory phase, saliva has an increase in sialic acid and glucosaminoglycans when compared to other times in the cycle (similar to cervical fluid). The rise in estrogen and LH contribute to this change.
When dried, saliva in the fertile window takes on a “ferning” crystalization pattern (cervical fluid will do this too). Ferning patterns can be seen using a Saliva Ovulation Microscope which is inexpensive and reusable.
Seems crazy that you can tell when you’re ovulating based on saliva, but it’s true! It’s much less talked about, but can be another helpful way of identifying the fertile window, especially for those who can’t clearly identify CM changes or want additional confirmation.
Do you HAVE to track ALL of these??! Of course not! The aim here is to educate, not overwhelm.
I’d recommend picking 2 observations that feel like safe starting points – like using OPKs alongside cervical fluid tracking…
If you feel confused, be sure to reach out to a fertility expert who can help guide you!
Want to learn more about the importance of tracking ovulation?
I discussed the importance of cycle awareness in Day 1 of the Free 3 Day Fertility Training and I shared an example of a client’s chart. Until she started charting, she had no idea that she was ovulating later in her cycle OR that she had a shorter than ideal luteal phase—now we know what we need to support in this client and we have markers we can track for progress. (And even in just 8 weeks, we are already seeing progress!). Register for the 3 day Training here.
Ready for a deeper dive with me?
I’d love to work with you! If you’re trying to get pregnant, hoping to try in the next 1-2 years or are looking for a better understanding of your hormones and cycles, you’re in the right place.
If you’re an Arizona resident, you can request a new patient consultation HERE. In person and virtual consultations are available. If you’re out of state, please use the contact form to reach out and discuss your options.