Are you trying to conceive but are struggling to pinpoint when ovulation will happen? Or better yet if it’s already over?
One way to determine this is by checking your hormone levels. This can be done by using an ovulation test kit. However, it’s important to know that recognizing ovulation signs can be a challenge and may require some patience and persistence.
Ovulation differs from person to person and cycle to cycle. And knowing the exact time and day isn’t realistic, but you can get pretty dang close.
There are many ovulation signs you can use in conjunction with ovulation tests or apps. All these together can help you get as close as possible to detect ovulation.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- The signs and symptoms of ovulation day
- The signs of ovulation are over
- And how to recognize your fertile window for the highest chance of conception.
Let’s start from the beginning. This way you have a deeper understanding of ovulation, its importance, and its relevance in your cycle.
What is Ovulation?
The short answer is that ovulation occurs when an egg leaves the ovaries and travels through the fallopian tubes where it awaits fertilization.
But let’s dig a little deeper…
In your menstrual cycle, there are 3 different phases that occur.
The follicular phase is the first phase in the cycle. This phase starts at the beginning of your period and continues until ovulation occurs.
During this phase, the pituitary gland is responsible for releasing FSH – follicle stimulating hormone. This hormone encourages the ovaries to develop follicles that have an egg in each of them.
Typically there will be a dominant follicle that will mature. During this maturation, it will release the hormone estrogen. In turn, this process will start to build the uterine lining to prepare for the implantation of a fertilized egg.
Ovulation is the second phase in the menstrual cycle. In this phase, the incline of estrogen prompts the LH – luteinizing hormone to surge. As LH starts to surge, it sets off ovulation within 24-36 hours. When the ovary releases the egg, estrogen levels will plummet.
The luteal phase is the last phase in the menstrual cycle. Once the egg leaves the follicle, the ruptured follicle then becomes the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum then releases the hormone progesterone. Progesterone helps sustain the increased thickening of the uterine lining, preparing for pregnancy.
If the sperm meets the egg and is successfully fertilized, the egg will make its next journey down the fallopian tube. Once the egg is in the uterus it will burrow into the thickened uterine lining. This would be a successful implantation, resulting in pregnancy.
If the egg is not fertilized, progesterone and estrogen will drop due to the corpus luteum immersing back into the body. The uterine lining will then start shedding, bringing about your period for the month.
When Does Ovulation Occur in the Cycle?
The ovulation process happens once a month in a normal menstrual cycle. Generally, it happens around 12-14 days before the start of your next period. But the timing can vary from person to person.
The typical cycle length is about 28 days, but studies show that only 16% of women actually have a “normal” 28-day cycle length. A menstrual cycle can actually range from 21-35 days which is still considered to be normal.
There are also women who struggle with irregular periods. Ovulation can be hard to track even by using cycle tracking apps and ovulation tests when there are other factors to consider.
In some cases, ovulation can even happen more than once a month. However, that is possible only in very specific cases. And for some women, an egg might not even be released from the ovaries at all. This occurrence is called anovulation. To have anovulatory cycles on occasion is normal, but if you experience it consecutively for several months then it can create an issue when trying to conceive. Some signs that you may not be ovulating are:
- Irregular periods
- No periods
- Light or heavy menstrual bleeding
- Irregular basal body temperatures (BBT)
- A lack of cervical mucus
If you want to learn more about anovulation, check this article out.
Fertile Window and When to Have Sex
Your fertile window is a 6-day time frame during your menstrual cycle when you have the highest chance of getting pregnant. You are most fertile the 4 days before ovulation, the day of ovulation, and 24 hours after ovulation. An egg will only be accessible for 12-24 hours after ovulation occurs.
Sperm can live in ideal conditions in your female reproductive system for up to 5 days. Ideal conditions in your vagina would be slippery, thin, stretchy cervical fluid. Your cervix would be soft, high, and open. And your basal body temperature (BBT) may dip slightly before ovulation. These symptoms along with hormone tracking could give you a better picture of when you are in your fertile window.
You should start having sex at the beginning of the fertile window—which is the 4 days leading up to ovulation—for a more elevated shot at conceiving. This time frame will give sperm a head start in the race to get to your egg.
Waiting to do the deed until the day of ovulation gives you about 18%-42% chance to conceive. Which is still a shot! But the percentage of successful fertilization drops 24 hours following ovulation.
So if you are trying to conceive, then having sex during this 6-day span will be ideal in giving you the best chances for conception.
Signs Leading Up to Ovulation & When Ovulation is Over
What happens to your body during ovulation, you ask?
Well, you should be aware of certain ovulation symptoms and bodily changes in the days leading up to ovulation if you are trying to conceive.
Remember that hormonal changes are the main culprit to any symptoms you experience during ovulation. Although, not everyone experiences these symptoms.
Whilst observing and tracking the symptoms in your body each cycle, you could also use Inito. Inito will help you monitor all your fertility hormonal levels each cycle. It measures FSH, estrogen, LH, and progesterone metabolite PdG. This process will help track and confirm your ovulation more efficiently.
Cervical Mucus Changes
Cervical Mucus is one of the biggest changes to keep an eye on while tracking your ovulation and menstrual cycle. It’s like a roadmap for your fertility.
Before ovulation—at the beginning of your menstrual cycle—your cervical mucus will be thick, sticky, and opaque. This type of cervical mucus isn’t ideal for sperm to survive. It’s acidic to them and creates a massive roadblock stopping the sperm from reaching their final destination.
As ovulation gets nearer, your cervical mucus will become noticeably different. It will become stretchy, thin, and transparent in color which will resemble egg whites. This type of ovulation discharge is sperm heaven! It has a higher alkaline ph which aids in allowing the sperm to live longer. This type of cervical mucus makes it easier for sperm to slip and slide right to their focused target, the egg.
Once ovulation is over, the progesterone hormone will cause your cervical mucus to change again. It will become creamy, sticky, and thick just as it had been before the fertile window. It gives the sperm the big red light as the fertile window comes to a close.
At the beginning of your menstrual cycle, just before ovulation occurs, your cervix will be positioned higher up in the vagina. It will also be slightly soft to the touch and be more open at the tip. The scientific reasoning behind the changes that occur in the cervix have everything to do with the hormones being produced in the body. Estrogen shows up before ovulation which brings about the softening and opening of the cervix. This increased estrogen will help prepare it for the fertile window.
To check your cervix, you’d simply use your index finger or middle finger to insert inside your vagina to feel the end of your cervix. It’s beneficial to do this once a day at the same time to keep track of the changes occurring.
During ovulation, your cervix may feel even more open, even softer to the touch—like the feel of your lips, and positioned even higher up. The cervix will be slightly more open and moist as a way to welcome any sperm.
When ovulation ends and your fertile window closes, you will notice a change again. Your cervix will become harder to the touch—like the tip of your nose, sit lower in the vagina, and the opening of your cervix will start to close up.
When ovulation is over, progesterone levels surge. This surge causes the cervix to become more firm and closed. Checking your cervix daily along with tracking your hormone levels and basal body temperature will help you to learn more about how your own body changes during the different phases of the menstrual cycle.
Changes in Body Temperature
Before Ovulation – If you are tracking your fertility by testing your basal body temperature (BBT) first thing each morning, you may see a slight dip in your temperature right before you ovulate. This can be a sign that ovulation is impending. Remember that not everyone will see a dip in their temperature, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
Basal body temperature is the temperature of your body when it is at a complete resting state. In order to get an accurate temperature you would need to use a special kind of thermometer called a basal body thermometer. You would test each morning before getting out of bed and getting on with your day.
Keep in mind that there are different conditions that can alter your BBT. Some of those factors are fever, lack of sleep, testing at a later time, or even that large glass of wine.
During Ovulation – To confirm ovulation, your basal body temperature will rise by 1°F or so within the 24 hours after you ovulate. This rise is caused by the release of the hormone progesterone. When you confirm ovulation, your BBT peaks. Progesterone levels cause this surge through your body. It will stay at a higher temperature until you start your next cycle.
If a sperm fertilizes your egg successfully, then your basal body temperature will continue to stay high. This high temperature can also confirm pregnancy if it doesn’t change.
When ovulation is over – Your progesterone level will drop causing your uterine lining to shed, starting a new cycle—your next period. This results in a drop in your BBT towards the end of your cycle.
Abdominal Twinge, Pop, Bloating, and Discomfort
Before ovulation occurs, at the beginning of your menstrual cycle, it’s likely you won’t experience any type of discomfort in the abdomen. If you feel pain after your period that doesn’t go away, it can be a symptom of an underlying disorder. Contact your doctor right away if you experience this.
During ovulation, you may feel some lower abdominal ovulation pain in the form of cramps. This is called Mittelschmerz. This discomfort occurs when the follicle ruptures and starts releasing small amounts of fluid and blood. Blood from the rupture can irritate the lining of the abdomen causing some heaviness, bloating, and lower abdominal pain. You may experience a pop or twinge on one side or the other of your lower abdomen. Some light spotting when ovulating can also occur.
When ovulation is over, this discomfort usually subsides. You may get cramps once your menses begins, but this is a fairly normal symptom that around 80% of women experience in their lives from pre-teen through menopause.
Many women experience breast tenderness and sore nipples leading up to ovulation. Estrogen that peaks in the middle of the menstrual cycle is the leading cause of breast pain. Your breast can also grow in size during this time. But keep in mind, this can also be a pregnancy symptom.
Not all women will experience some of these ovulation symptoms, but it’s common for some. It usually will last until the start of a new menstrual cycle.
What to Know About Ovulation Tests?
Despite all these signs discussed, these symptoms can be very subjective. These signs can still occur due to hormonal changes even without ovulation occurring.
One way to learn about your own ovulation patterns is to use ovulation predictor kits (OPK). Tracking your hormones along with these signs and symptoms will give you a larger perspective on how your body is transitioning during your fertile window, giving you a better chance of getting pregnant!
Ovulation kits only typically test for the fertility hormone LH. This hormone is usually low during the majority of the menstrual cycle and then it surges around 24-36 hours before ovulation occurs.
OPKs give you a result based on an average threshold. This option works great for women who fall in this threshold but can give false positive or false negative results depending on certain factors. For example, women who have PCOS can get a false positive because the LH levels tend to run higher for them. The other things that may cause a false positive are:
- Fertility medications
- LUF (Luteinized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome)
- OPKs measuring only the alpha LH
There are also ways to get a false negative result too. If someone tends to have lower-than-average levels of LH then an analog OPK won’t always pick up the surge that should occur during the ovulation window.
If you are wondering what an analog OPK is, then let me explain a bit more…
There are typically a couple of types of OPKs. One is the Analog test which is the test strip that has two lines—the control line and the test line. Kind of resembles a pregnancy test.
The other type of OPK is a digital test which will show up as a happy face or + sign during the ovulation period.
The analog OPKs can be subjective because you have to measure the darkness of the test line in contrast to the control line. The darker the line the more LH surge is present.
In a digital test, the hormone is measured before it gives you a definitive answer on the screen. Which can be a little more accurate.
OPKs are a great tool for predicting ovulation but they certainly don’t confirm it. The only test that can confirm ovulation is a test that measures progesterone in the body.
The Inito fertility tracker is the only fertility tracking system that measures all four hormones—Estrogen, LH, Progesterone metabolite PdG, and FSH. Using Inito to predict ovulation and track your hormone levels would help give you more accurate information in your tracking process. Try it today!
Can You Get Pregnant After Ovulation Is Over?
In several studies, the chances of getting pregnant after ovulation is possible. The statistics are a bit lower, but there is still a chance.
If you have sex on the day of ovulation, the chances of pregnancy are 10%-33%. If you wait to have sex one day after ovulation the chances drop to 0%-11%.
Once an egg is released you have 12-24 hours to fertilize that egg. It can take sperm up to 6 hours to reach the released egg. The sooner you have sex after ovulation the higher the chances are of pregnancy.
There was one study done in 2020 regarding the myth of a woman’s facial shape changing during ovulation. This study found that there were no actual changes to the face during each phase of the menstrual cycle.
The study took place with 75 participating women. These women were photographed 3 times during the study. During the follicular phase, around ovulation, and 5 days before menses was to begin. In the study, they measured the face and the shape but found no evidence that the face changed in any way.
The one thing that was plausible was that the texture of the skin might change. It appeared smoother and healthier during ovulation. This skin change could send signals of fertility to the opposite sex. It was a possibility, to answer why men tend to be attracted to women during this phase of the menstrual cycle.
In a 2020 study, researchers tested a group of men who were to smell the t-shirt of multiple women who were in their ovulation phase. In the study, scientists determined that a woman’s body produces two scents during ovulation. One generates testosterone and the other scent decreases cortisol in men. This creates a heightened sense of a man’s sex drive and desires.
It’s hypothesized that these several factors can help to predict when ovulation occurs. It’s not a foolproof method or study, so don’t lean too much into these specific ovulation signs.
The truth of the matter is that you absolutely can get pregnant when you are on your period (during your bleeding phase). Ovulation varies from person to person, so it all depends on when you ovulate. Using the “cervical mucus method” during your period isn’t always dependable. Some women may have a shorter cycle and release an egg sooner than another woman. And some women may have a period and not ovulate at all.
Read this article to learn more about the signs that you may not be ovulating even if you are getting your period.
Each woman has a different menstrual cycle and it all depends on their specific body. This is why it is best practice to track your own personal cycles and test your hormone levels to find out how your own body works.
For years we were taught that an average cycle length is around 28 days and that we ovulate on day 14. With all the research and technology we have nowadays, we know that ovulation occurs 12-14 days before your next cycle. But every woman is different and 46% of menstrual cycles can vary by 7 days or more.
A menstrual cycle differs from person to person. Some women have shorter cycles, making ovulation happen earlier. And some have longer cycles of up to 35 days. In these cases, it’s usually the follicular phase that is short or long. But the luteal phase (the phase after ovulation) remains constant for 12-14 days.
In case of a luteal phase defect, the luteal phase lasts less than 11 days giving rise to shorter cycles.
There are also women who struggle with issues like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis which can cause irregular cycles. For certain reproductive system issues like these, tracking ovulation and hormones are ideal for learning about the differences in your body. Using natural family planning in conjunction with ovulation kits can help you learn when your next menstrual cycle will occur, helping you to predict ovulation.
You no longer have to use the calendar method by circling the 14th day of your calendar for ovulation! Learn about your own unique menstrual cycle with the Inito tracking system by testing your FSH, estrogen, LH, and progesterone metabolite PdG, for a more accurate fertile window and confirmation that you actually ovulated.
Let’s Wrap it Up With Some Takeaways
- Ovulation occurs when an egg leaves the ovaries and travels through the fallopian tubes where it waits to be fertilized.
- Your ovulation generally occurs 12-14 days before your next cycle.
- The fertile window typically is a 6-day window. Having sex during that time will help you have a better chance of getting pregnant.
- Signs that lead up to ovulation are cervical mucus changes, change in cervical position, BBT dip, bloating, mood shifts, and tender breasts.
- Signs that ovulation is over are BBT rise, cervical mucus changes, progesterone rise, cervix changes, a downshift in libido and mood, along with PMS.
- OPKs are useful in conjunction with signs and symptoms but can give a false-negative or a false-positive ovulation test result.
- You can still get pregnant after ovulation is over. Having sex 12-24 hours once ovulation has occurred can still possibly result in a positive pregnancy.
- Using Inito to track all 4 hormone levels—FSH, Estrogen, LH, and Progesterone metabolite PdG—would help determine a true confirmation of ovulation and all hormone levels individual to your specific body.