The Best Way to Track Ovulation: Tips and Tricks

If you are trying to conceive, tracking ovulation is a critical step. There are many different ways to track ovulation, and the best way for you may vary depending on your situation. In this blog post, we will discuss the best way to track ovulation and the different methods of tracking ovulation. We will also discuss the ovulation trackers and help you decide which one is best for you.

Tracking your ovulation and fertility signs is also known as natural family planning, or sometimes as the rhythm method. This method can also sometimes be called the calendar method, where you track your cycles over several months to determine your fertile patterns. This method can be used to help you become pregnant or to avoid pregnancy. The best way to track your ovulation is to keep a daily record of your fertility signs. These signs include changes in your body temperature, cervical mucus, and other important signs of ovulation.

The most important thing to remember when tracking ovulation is that every woman is different. What works for one woman may not work for another. There are many factors that can affect a woman’s cycle. These include the length of your menstrual cycle, your overall reproductive health, and any medical conditions you have that may affect fertility. It is important to be aware of your own body and how it changes over time.

This article does not give medical advice. Please be sure to always check with your doctor if you have any concerns or questions.

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.*

two hands holding a phone with an ovulation tracking app

How Does Ovulation Work?

Before we can discuss the best way to track ovulation, it is important to understand how ovulation works. Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovary. Right before the egg is released, there is a surge of lutenizing hormone (LH) that helps the egg release. The egg then travels down the fallopian tube, where it may be fertilized by sperm. If the sperm does not fertilize the egg, it will be shed during menstruation. Typically, you will start your period 12-14 days after you ovulate. The time in between ovulation and your period starting is known as the luteal phase.

We are taught that the average menstrual cycle in women is a 28-day cycle. This would mean your ovulation date occurs around day 14 of your cycle. This would be 14 days after the first day of your period. Your next period would then start on day 28. While this is the typical cycle for some women, many others have a different cycle length or ovulation day. This is why tracking ovulation is important! If you go solely based off the “typical” cycle, you may very well be missing your day of ovulation each cycle.

There are several signs that can indicate when ovulation is occurring. These include changes in cervical mucus, a rise in body temperature, and changes in the position of the cervix. Once you get used to tracking the signs, they will be much easier to spot. However, these signs can be subtle and difficult to detect, especially if you are not used to tracking them.

If this will be your first time tracking your fertile signs, it would be a good idea to read Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.

woman holding an ovulation test and looking at it

Ovulation Predictor Kits

One of the most popular methods of tracking ovulation is using an ovulation predictor kit (OPK). Ovulation tests are urine tests that measure the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine. LH is present in all women, but there is a surge in LH levels right before ovulation. By testing your urine, you can detect when this LH surge is happening.

OPKs are available without a prescription. You can purchase them at most grocery stories, drug stores, and online at places like Amazon. You will typically use them once a day, starting a few days before your expected ovulation date. If you do not know when you might ovulate, you can start taking them around day 10 of your cycle until you get a positive. You will continue to test until you get a positive result, indicating that ovulation is about to occur.

A positive result requires the test line to be as dark as or darker than the control line. If there is a line that is lighter than the control line, it is not a positive. Once you get a positive result, your ovary should relase the mature egg within the next 24-36 hours. The next hours after your positive OPK are known as your most fertile days, or your fertile window. These are the best days to have unprotected sex in order to increase your chances of getting pregnant.

OPKs are a popular method of ovulation tracking because they are easy to use and relatively affordable. However, there are some drawbacks to using OPKs. First, you have to be willing to test your urine every day, which some women find inconvenient. Second, LH surges can be short-lived, so you have to test at the right time to get an accurate result. This can be hard if the length of your cycle is long or unpredictable. And finally, OPKs can produce false positives in some women. This would most commonly occur in people who have conditions like PCOS. This means that you may think you are about to ovulate when you are not.

Ovulation test strips can be expensive, especially if you have to use them for a large number of days in a row. The Wondfo brand is a great option that is more affordable.

Tracking Ovulation With Basal Body Temperature

Another popular method of tracking ovulation is basal body temperature charting. Your basal body temperature is your lowest body temperature in a 24-hour period. It typically occurs right after you wake up in the morning.

To track your BBT, you will need a special thermometer that can measure temperatures to at least the tenth of a degree. A regular thermometer is not sensitive enough to notice the subtle temperature changes in your body. You will take your temperature every morning as soon as you wake up. Be sure to do this before you get out of bed or do anything else. Be sure to use the same thermometer each day and to take your temperature at the same time each morning.

You will then plot your temperatures on a graph, chart, or fertility app. There are a lot of different fertility apps out there that allow you to track your temperature along with other ovulation signs. You will typically see a slight increase in temperature around the time of ovulation. When your temperature rises, it will need to stay up for at least three days for your fertility app or other tracking method to confirm ovulation. If your body’s temperature rises and then falls again, you may not have ovulated yet. If successful ovulation occurs, your temperatures will stay elevated until your next period. Then they will drop again.

Tracking your BBT can be an effective way to detect ovulation. However, it does have some drawbacks. First, you need to take your temperature every morning at the same time. This can be difficult to do if you are not a morning person or if you have a variable sleep schedule. Also, your temperature will not rise until after ovulation has already occurred. So, while BBT charting can help you confirm that ovulation has occurred, it cannot predict it before it happens. Tracking ovulation through BBT alone is not an effective form of birth control because it does not show your ovulation window ahead of time.

Woman's hands holding a BBT thermometer

Cervical Mucus Tracking

Another way to track ovulation is by monitoring your cervical mucus. Cervical mucus is the discharge that you see when you wipe after using the restroom. The amount and consistency of cervical mucus changes throughout your menstrual cycle, becoming more plentiful and less sticky during your fertility window. It will become clear, stretchy, and thinner during the days leading up to ovulation. This is often referred to as egg white cervical mucus (EWCM), because it resembles raw egg whites.

To track your cervical mucus, you will need to use toilet paper or a clean finger to check your mucus each time you go to the bathroom. You can also wear a panty liner or menstrual cup to help you keep track of your mucus throughout the day. Once you have collected a sample of your mucus, you will need to observe it closely. You can do this by holding it between your thumb and forefinger or by placing it on a dark colored surface like toilet paper or a napkin.

You should be on the lookout for changes in the amount, color, and consistency of your mucus. Around the time of ovulation, you should see an increase in the amount of mucus and a change in its consistency. It will become more slippery, clear, and stretchy. If you notice these changes, it is a good indication that ovulation is about to occur. If you are trying to get pregnant, this is the best time to have unprotected sex for your best chance at pregnancy.

While cervical mucus tracking can be an effective way to track ovulation, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, there are many things that can affect your cervical mucus, including sexual activity, birth control, and medications. So it is important to take these factors into account when you are tracking your mucus. Second, some women do not produce a lot of cervical mucus, making it difficult to track. And finally, your cervical fluid can change consistency throughout the day, so you will need to check it multiple times to get an accurate picture.

woman laying in bed sleeping

Ferning Method

The ferning method is a way to track ovulation by observing the changes in your saliva. When you are fertile, your saliva will form a fern-like pattern when it dries. To track this, you will need to collect a sample of your saliva on a clean glass slide or microscope slide. You can do this by putting a drop of saliva onto a slide or by using a cotton swab to collect your saliva. Once you have collected a sample, you will need to allow it to air dry. Once it is dry, you will be able to see the fern-like crystals if you look at it under a microscope or with a magnifying glass. There are ferning kits you can buy to help you better track with this method.

The ferning method can be an effective way to track ovulation. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you need to have a microscope or magnifying glass to be able to see the ferning pattern. Second, outside factors can affect your saliva, including food, drink, and medications. So it is important to take these factors into account when you are tracking your saliva. Finally, the ferning pattern can change throughout the day, so you will need to check it multiple times to get an accurate picture.

Hand holding a green fern leaf.  Representative of the ferning method of fertility.

Fertility Awareness Method

The fertility awareness method (FAM) is a way of tracking ovulation that involves monitoring your basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and menstrual cycle. To use the FAM, you will need to take your temperature every morning and track your cervical mucus throughout the day. In addition, you will need to keep track of the days of your menstrual cycle. This can be done by using a fertility app, period tracker app, chart, or calendar.

Other fertility symptoms you may want to track include breast tenderness, vaginal discharge, and any of your typical pms symptoms. Using fertility tracking can help you pinpoint the other signs you may have of ovulation. Knowing how your body works gives you the best chances of achieving pregnancy or avoiding pregnancy.

The FAM is a more holistic approach to tracking ovulation, as it takes into account multiple factors that can affect fertility. However, it can be difficult to use, as it requires you to track your temperature, cervical mucus, and menstrual cycle all at once. In addition, the FAM can be less effective if you have irregular cycles or if you are not able to track your temperature or cervical mucus consistently. This is a good option if you know you can be consistent in tracking all of your fertile signs.

Calendar with cup of coffee

Tracking Ovulation With Irregular Cycles

If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or have irregular periods for other reasons, it can sometimes be harder to track your ovulation. In these cases, you may want to use several different methods for tracking ovulation until you can determine any signs or patterns you see before your usual ovulation.

Just a note that ovulation strips do not always work for people with PCOS. Though they may work for some people, you should try to use another method to confirm the ovulation in order to make sure your ovulation date is accurate. If you have PCOS, you may like to read Tips to Boost Fertility and Get Pregnant Quickly with PCOS.

If you are having trouble pinpointing ovulation or do not think you are ovulating, you can ask your healthcare provider for a referral to a fertility specialist. These doctors specalize in determining the causes for not being able to get pregnant and can help you get pregnant. Reproductive endocronologists (RE) can run blood tests to check your hormone levels and give you more accurate results on when and if you are ovulating during your cycle.

Woman sitting at desk with pencil in her mouth.  She is looking at a computer screen.

As you can see, there are many different methods you can use to track your ovulation and fertility. These methods can be used individually or in combination with each other. You can use them in order to increase your chances of pregnancy or also to try to avoid pregnancy. If you have additional questions, you can always talk to your healthcare provider about which method(s) would be best for you.

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