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Predicting Ovulation

Mar 02, 2022 | 2 minutes Read

It can be very helpful for women to know when they are likely to ovulate. Besides as a means of building more awareness of how their body works or as a tool to help maximize the chances of conceiving, becoming aware of your ovulation is a good skill to have. After all, over the course of a woman’s reproductive lifetime, ovulation can occur as many as 460 times; there is plenty of opportunity to practice.

Predicting ovulation can also be used to avoid conception, but bear in mind that even women who are highly tuned into their body’s cycles can miss the signs that ovulation is imminent. Far from being exact, ovulation prediction weighs the odds and at best provides a reasonably accurate idea. Therefore, most ovulation predictors come with a covering disclaimer that there are no guarantees. Most are described as a best guess”— a harmless means of boosting the odds of getting pregnant.

How can I tell if I’ve ovulated?

Each month an egg is supported towards maturity by the hormones on the ovarian follicle on which it rests. Generally, a new egg ruptures and is released mid-cycle around day 14 or 15 after the first day of the last normal period. If the egg is fertilized and implants in the womb there will be no period. However, if fertilization does not occur then the uterine lining is shed in the next period, around 14 days later.

The most common and basic method of detecting ovulation is to use a monthly calendar. Mark the first day of your menstrual period and again when bleeding stops. Doing this for a couple of months will help you to understand your own biological patterns and the cyclic and predictable nature of menstruation. Although the average length of a menstrual cycle is 28 days, this can vary between individual women. Some have shorter or longer cycles. It is important to look for physical changes that indicate ovulation has occurred, rather than rely solely on calendar dates.

When should we try?

Having intercourse just prior to or at the time of ovulation will maximize the chances of conceiving a baby. There is only a small window of time—12 to 24 hours—where the egg is viable and capable of being fertilized. Sperm is much more robust than eggs and can survive 3 to 5 days after ejaculation. Fertilization normally occurs in one of the woman’s fallopian tubes. As soon as the egg has been fertilized, a signal is given off to the other sperm not to waste their efforts: there has already been a lucky winner.

Physical signs of ovulation

An increase in your body temperature. Taking your basal body temperature first thing in the morning can be a good way to detect when ovulation has occurred.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.