Step one if you are hoping to conceive is to know for sure that you are ovulating. Having a regular period does not guarantee regular ovulation. Read on to find out how to know if you are ovulating:
- Lower abdominal pain or cramping. Some women will feel ovulation, many don’t. What you feel may be successful ovulation or it may be a vain attempt by your ovaries to release an egg. Abdominal pain or cramping around midcycle does not guarantee that you ovulated.
- Cervical mucous. Cervical mucous is clear, stretchy, gooey, egg white mucous that is typically produced 24-72 hours prior to ovulation. This mucous helps sperm make its way up the cervix and into the uterus. It is a sign that your body is gearing up to ovulate, but doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily succeed.
- Breast tenderness. Some women get tender breasts at ovulation, many don’t. Estrogen peaks at ovulation, progesterone peaks about a week after, so breast tenderness at ovulation can be too much estrogen. Breast tenderness a week afterward can be an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone.
- Basal Body Temperature. Charting basal body temperature carefully can be extremely helpful in monitoring ovulation and fertility. You want to take your resting body temperature first thing in the morning, as soon as you open your eyes, before you do anything (including going to the washroom or having intercourse) and after you have had at least 4 hours of continuous sleep. Take it your entire cycle and use an app like Fertility Friend or Kindara to plot the graph. There will be a small temperature dip of about 0.2 degrees Celsius at ovulation and a subsequent increase in temperatures, about 0.5 degrees Celsius higher than the previous temperatures in the first half of your cycle.
- Luteal phase progesterone. If you think you’ve ovulated, and you’re trying to conceive, it would be helpful to have a luteal phase progesterone measurement done. This is typically measured one week post ovulation. You want to use your Basal Body Temperature data to pinpoint ovulation and have progesterone measured by a blood test about a week later. Peak progesterone levels should be nearer the high end of the normal range for luteal phase progesterone. Our lab’s luteal progesterone range is 5.3 – 86 nmol/L. Since a week post ovulation is when progesterone is at its highest, we want it to be closer to 86. For fertility, I prefer 7 day post ovulation progesterone to be above 60 nmol/L.