Updated: May 30, 2021
Fertility isn't just about getting pregnant. Your period cycle is another vital sign. It gives you an abundance of information about your health, your body, and your hormones. Don't ignore it!
Tracking ovulation can give you, and your doctor, information about the length of your luteal and follicular phases. It can tell us whether you're making healthy cervical mucus at the correct times, it can tell us… well, if you're ovulating.
It can feel overwhelming to track your ovulation, but it's really all about data collection. No judgment on what your body should be doing or what it is or isn't. Pretend you're just a researcher collecting information.
There's a few ways to track ovulation. Some women do just one, some women do all of them, some do a combination of them. The best way to track ovulation is whatever works for you! LH STRIP METHOD
This method can help inform you when you're going to ovulate. There are several different types and brands of LH strips. I use the easy@ home strips (since you can buy a lot of them at a time for a cheaper price) and it pairs with the "Pre Mom Fertility" app making it very convenient.
This method is testing your LH surge. Prior to ovulation, your estrogen levels rise, signaling to your brain to tell your ovaries to release FSH to mature the egg and LH to release the egg. 24-36 hours after you see the LH surge, is often when you’ll ovulate. So the 1-2 days after your surge and the 5 days prior to ovulation is your fertile window. This is because the egg can survive only for about 1 day after it’s released, and sperm can survive for about 5 days. This is important to keep in mind whether you’re trying to prevent pregnancy, or if you’re trying to conceive. It’s all about timing!
Depending on how long or regular your cycles are- you will start tracking at different points. If you follow a 28 day cycle, generally you can start testing around day 8-9. Test every day at the same time until you see a spike in LH. Then test again for 1-2 more days to see it go back down.
If your cycles are more irregular and unpredictable, you might need to start a few days after your period and test every day until you see your LH spike. You might find that you didn’t get one, or you might get one this cycle and not next cycle. It’s all just information. Keep tracking and gathering information.
The more consistent you become, the more you will understand your body and get a better understanding of what day you will ovulate. BASAL BODY TEMPERATURE METHOD
This method is used to confirm ovulation. Once your egg is released, progesterone levels start to rise. Progesterone is responsible for raising your body temperature by about 0.5 degrees F.
Basal body temperature (BBT) is your body’s temperature when at rest, so while you’re sleeping. But it’s hard to know what your sleeping temperature is, unless you use a bracelet trackers or other devices that can track while you sleep. If you don’t want to invest in one of those, you don’t have to!
You can test your BBT first thing in the morning when you wake up with a regular oral thermometer. We’re trying to get as close as possible to what your sleeping temperature was, so it’s very important that it’s the very first thing you do as soon as you’re consciously awake. Before you roll over to say hi to your partner, before you drink water, before you even sit up- you need to pop that thermometer in your mouth so you can get as close to an accurate reading as possible.
With BBT, consistency is key. You will need to track every day of your cycle, regardless of what phase you’re in so you can see the changes (unlike with LH strips).
This is what the charting page will look like on the Pre Mom app. You will see your LH peak (purple line), and you will see it drop it again. The blue line is basal body temperature- you can see the rise post ovulation. This app will keep everything tracked for you, so you don’t have to chart yourself.
CERVICAL MUCUS METHOD
This method helps to predict when ovulation is occuring. You have cervical mucus throughout your entire cycle! It’s not just related to ovulation. The consistency of your mucus, however, will change throughout your cycle.
Your mucus can change from thick and white, to clear and stretchy- this is the fertile mucus you’re looking for to indicate ovulation.
To read more about cervical mucus and how to track it, check out this post. PROGESTERONE STRIPS METHOD
This method is not a “true” method defined by ACOG. But it’s another way to track and gather information. As mentioned earlier, in your luteal phase, after ovulation has occurred, your progesterone levels will rise. If no ovulation occured, no progesterone is made.
So to confirm ovulation, you can track progesterone levels. You can do this with a blood test, but that can be time consuming and requires the help of a doctor. Another way is to check your urine progesterone metabolites with a strip that is similar to the LH strips.
Proov progesterone tests will help you know if your progesterone levels are present and in high enough levels to indicate whether you’ve ovulated. Check them out here.
With these, you will start tracking about 7 days post ovulation, OR 7 days prior to your period starting. This is when progesterone levels are highest- right in the middle of your luteal phase.
If you'd like to learn more about your cycles, tracking ovulation, and learning about your hormones, schedule a visit to work together.