Dr. Susan Frame, ND
Did I Ovulate?
Ovulation is the release of the egg from the ovary, which is an important part of the menstrual cycle (check out my post on the basics of the menstrual cycle here). This process becomes increasingly important if you are trying to conceive.
how to track ovulation:
Temperature Change (aka Basal Body Temperature or BBT)
During the luteal phase the increasing progesterone level causes an increase in body temperature. So one can assume that if temperature increases, there was enough progesterone being made in the corpus luteum to signal ovulation.
Temperature rises 1 or 2 days after the LH surge and stays elevated for at least 10 days.
On average a woman's temperature is anywhere from 36.1 - 36.4 degrees C before ovulation, and after ovulation it rises to 36.4 - 37 degrees C (typically an increase of 0.3 C and 0.5 F)
This change can easily be tracked each morning before you get out of bed and can be another useful tool to get to know your menstrual cycle, especially if you want to determine if you are ovulating.
Elevated temperature for less than 10 days or no increase in temperature? It could mean inadequate levels of progesterone are present and the uterine lining isn't thick enough for implantation.
Changes in Cervical Mucous
Increased estrogen causes cervical mucous to become "stringy" around ovulation, which many women note as similar consistency to raw egg whites (hence the term "egg white cervical mucous").
This stringy mucous is actually meant to nourish sperm and enhance their chance of fertilization (cool, right?!)
Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs)
There are many at home test kits out there which measure the surge in LH in your urine to indicate if you have ovulated and are at your most fertile.
LH surge appears in urine within 12 hours after it would appear in a blood test, so urine testing is a convenient way to test at home.
The increase in LH typically occurs within 36 hours before the egg is released from the ovary, which allows for better timing of intercourse if trying to conceive.
Depending on your cycle length, I usually recommend testing LH twice a day starting around cycle day 9 until getting a positive reading. *be sure to follow the instructions on the box as each kit is different*
which method do I recommend?
Totally depends on whether you are just looking to learn more about your cycle or if you are actively trying to conceive.
If you are tracking your cycle - cervical mucous and BBT are great additions to see if you have ovulated each cycle. If you are trying to conceive BBT is a less reliable method in timing intercourse since your temperature increases AFTER ovulation occurs. While there may be a dip in temperature right before ovulation, it can be difficult to measure. BBT can be used to retroactively see if you have ovulated, but not ideal in identifying the fertile window in order to conceive.
If you are trying to conceive - OPKs are the way to go. Why? Because they detect the surge in LH before the egg is released from the ovary, meaning you know you are about to ovulate and you can time intercourse accordingly (ideally the sperm is present before ovulation).
For couples trying to conceive BBT tracking is not the best method of tracking ovulation because the increase in temperature occurs after the egg has left the ovary, which isn't ideal for identifying the fertile window.
While there are different methods of tracking ovulation it is important you choose one which fits into your schedule and does not add extra stress (especially if you are trying to conceive). If you have questions please reach out - I am always happy to chat.
Health-related information contained in this post is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for a visit with a Naturopathic Doctor or other healthcare provider. The advice is intended to offer only a general basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their healthcare provider. Always consult your licensed Naturopathic Doctor before making changes to your treatment protocol.
Welt, C (2019). Evaluation of menstrual cycle and timing of ovulation. Retrieved Oct 5, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/evaluation-of-the-menstrual-cycle-and-timing-of-ovulation