If you are actively trying to get pregnant, you will want to know when you are ovulating as having sex during this time gives you a higher chance of conceiving.
Some women use ovulating predictor kits (OPK) which can be purchased from most chemists or online. This involves urinating on a tool similar to a pregnancy test and reading the result. They measure an increase in the Luteinizing hormone (LH) as it is this hormone which releases the egg into the fallopian tube ready for fertilisation. There are many different types and styles of OPKs and you should always ensure you read the instructions before them. Although an ovulation predictor kit is the easiest and most reliable way to tell if you are ovulating, these kits can prove to be expensive over time. Therefore, many women take and record their basal body temperature (BBT) instead and at the same time they also monitor their cervical mucus.
Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
BBT is your temperature first thing in the morning after you wake or after any block of at least three uninterrupted hours sleep. Youwill need to purchase a basal thermometer which is much more sensitive than a normal thermometer and allows you to record even the smallest change in your BBT. These can be bought easily from most chemists and usually come with a chart which allows you to plot your daily temperature on. It can take a few months for you to work out when you are ovulating from using your BBT and therefore it is advisable to make a few copies of the blank chart.
Before using your Basal Body thermometer, ensure you read all the enclosed instructions with it as they may vary between designs and manufacturers. However, basically you need to take your temperature at the same time every morning before you get out of bed and before you have anything to eat or drink.
When you ovulate, your BBT rises slightly due to the hormonal changes. This temperature rise remains until your period. Record your daily measurements on the chart as you are looking for a temperature rise of about 0.2 degrees centigrade that lasts for at least three days. You are fertile on the day that the temperature rises and also the few days before. This means that during the first few months of charting your BBT, you will actually be measuring the fact that you have just ovulated rather than about to ovulate. After the first few months, you might begin to notice a pattern and be able to predict when you are ovulating.
It is important to remember that illness, alcohol, some painkillers and forgetting to take your temperature at the right time can all cause inconsistencies in your readings.
Cervical mucus (CM) is a type of vaginal discharge. Your body produces vaginal discharge throughout your menstrual cycle and the quantity, texture and colour of your cervical mucus changes during different times. If you keep track of your CM, you should be able to use your findings along with your BBT to work out when you are most fertile.
Some women find they are able to examine their mucus by wiping the area with a piece of tissue. However, many need to collect some mucus by inserting a clean finger into their vagina and reaching up towards the cervix in order to examine it.
This list shows what your cervical mucus should be like throughout your menstrual cycle.
- During your period your discharge will be menstrual blood
- After your period your cervical mucus may be dry or cloudy coloured and sticky
- Your CM will start to become clear and wil feel slippery. The quantity will also increase.
- After about three days, your CM will become stringy-like and stretchy in texture
- Within two days, your CM will become very wet and slippery. This is when you are most fertile.
- Your CM will then either turn dry or cloudy in colour and sticky. After two days of having this type of discharge means that you are no longer fertile.
If you record your findings along with your BBT, after a few months you should be able tell the time when you are ovulating and the best times to try to conceive.
by Jenny, mum to William and James