Whether you’ve been diagnosed as having infertility issues or you have yet to speak to a doctor about your concerns, you may have begun worrying about ovulation; 30% of cases of infertility have to do with the inability to ovulate.1 Recently, the use of over-the-counter ovulation tests has become popular. You can purchase these test kits at most pharmacies across the United States or request an ovulation test from your doctor. The results will indicate whether you are ovulating at the time of the test, or more professional tests could indicate whether you ovulated at all in your last cycle.
Ovulation tests work by testing your urine for the luteinizing hormone, which is produced in the anterior pituitary gland. In women, this hormone triggers ovulation, where in men it triggers testosterone production. At-home tests require you to urinate on a test strip, much the same as a pregnancy tests. These tests are more expensive than at-home pregnancy tests, however.
Your doctor may refer you for another type of test, which requires blood work. Blood is examined for progesterone levels, which tell your physician whether you have ovulated recently. Your doctor can also check your body for physical signs of ovulation such as the changing of the cervix, which softens and opens during ovulation, and lowers and becomes firm when ovulation is complete.
Ovulation tests are expensive, especially when you find yourself testing regularly. During IVF and other forms of reproductive technology, stress levels are high, and adding the financial burden of repeated ovulation test kits to that won’t help matters. Here are some natural ways you can determine whether you’re ovulating; these symptoms may not all appear at once and for some women, physical signs may be absent altogether during ovulation:
One of the most common and noticeable symptoms of ovulation is cervical mucus. This mucus comes in the form of discharge often felt or seen when wiping after a visit to the bathroom, or in your underwear. The discharge is milky or clear and odorless when healthy. If discharge has a distinct odor, is yellow in color, or causes itchiness or pain, speak to your doctor.3
Some women experience regular discharge through the course of a standard monthly cycle, but women tend to recognize more of this when ovulating.
Body temperature isn’t something you notice on a regular basis, unless it is leading to a fever during illness. However, when you are ovulating your basal body temperature does increase. Your basal body temperature is the lowest temperature your body experiences during a resting period. To see if this temperature has risen, you need to have a base number to compare it to. Your doctor can help you navigate these numbers and advise you on how to best monitor your temperature.3
Some women experience mild pain just inside the hip bone below the abdomen when ovulating. This pain doesn’t last long and is usually a harmless indication that the body is preparing itself for ovulation, or that ovulation is occurring. The pain should last somewhere between a handful of minutes to 48 hours, after which time you should contact a doctor to explain the pain, as it could be the result of something other than ovulation alone.2
Other signs of ovulation that women have reported to be more noticeable than during other periods of the monthly cycle include a higher than average libido, breast tenderness, spotting, and a heightened sense of smell. These symptoms aren’t as scientifically documented and can be misinterpreted as premenstrual symptoms, as they often coincide with a woman’s period.