Ovulating Signs - How to Tell if You're Ovulating

Determining when you're most fertile will increase your chances of getting pregnant because you'll be able to time having sexual intercourse around the time you ovulate.

What Is Ovulation?

Ovulation is when your ovary releases an egg (also called a female gamete, oocyte or ovum). The egg travels towards the uterus through the fallopian tubes. If a sperm is present, the egg will get fertilized and implant in the uterus 6 to 12 days later.

The process is controlled by a delicate balance of hormones that are released from the front part of the pituitary gland. Ovulation occurs when the levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) rise.

The Chance of Conception

A woman can only conceive around the time of ovulation. This happens once a month and the egg only survives 12 to 24 hours. The opening to get pregnant is small and couples who don't use birth control and aren't actively timing intercourse to conceive have a 20 to 25 percent chance of getting pregnant each month.

Sperm can live between three to five days in the uterus so a couple can still get pregnant if they have sex a few days before ovulation. The key is to timing the sexual intercourse so that the sperm is there when the egg is released into the uterus. Chances of conceiving after ovulation are very small so it's important to know exactly when you ovulate to increase the chances of getting pregnant.

Body Signs

About 20 percent of women can tell that they're ovulating by the signs their bodies give them. These women experience mild lower abdominal cramps or pain twinges usually on one side of the abdomen. This is the side they're ovulating from. This ovulation-related cramping is called mittelschmerz which is German for "middle pain."

Monitor Your Cervix

Actively trying to conceive is not for the squeamish and requires an intimate knowledge of your own body. As your body gets ready for a possible conception, several changes occur including the position of the cervix. At the beginning of your cycle your cervix will be closed, low and hard. As ovulation approaches the hormones that release the egg also cause the cervix to soften and open up to make it easier for sperm to get through. You might be able to feel these changes by checking your cervix daily with one or two fingers and keeping track of its position.

As your checking your cervix position, watch the consistency and amount of cervical mucus. It helps carry sperm to your uterus. When you're ovulating, you will produce more cervical mucus and it will be thinner and clearer to make it easier for sperm to travel through it. After your period you won't have much cervical mucus. As your cycle continues, your body will produce more beginning with thick white mucus and ending with stretchable cervical mucus that looks similar to an egg white. After ovulation the cervical mucus often returns to a thicker discharge or dries completely.


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