12 Signs & Symptoms of Ovulation

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Philip Druce

By Philip Druce, Founder of Ovulation Calculator

Your body provides signs about when you are ovulating. Once you know these ovulation symptoms, you can increase your chances of getting pregnant faster by ensuring you get the timing of intercourse right (during the days leading up to ovulation).

What you're going to learn:

- How to detect the 12 signs of ovulation
- When you are most fertile
- How to predict when these days are, each cycle
- The two days each cycle you should have sex (most people get this wrong!)

Below is a list of the 12 signs of ovulation you're going to learn. You'll learn how to correctly identify the symptoms, this is the key to getting pregnant naturally.

Ovulation signs illustrated on body


The 12 Ovulation Symptoms are:

1. Cervical mucus changes
2. Cervix position changes
3. A rise in basal body temperature
4. Saliva ferning
5. LH levels in urine
6. Slight spotting
7. Increased sexual desire
8. Heightened senses
9. Ovulation pain
10. Abdominal bloating
11. Breast tenderness
12. Nausea or headaches

Read on to learn how to identify these. Watch the quick videos too.

Learn the two days you need to have sex to get pregnant

The good news;

You're going to know more than 69% of women trying to conceive.

We asked 9,863 women who were trying to conceive, if they were aware of their natural fertility signs, only 31% said yes.

Natural Fertility Signs Survey Results

Did you know that you have a fertile window of only six days each cycle? This is due to the fact the sperm can survive for up to five days in optimal conditions (more on this later) and your egg can survive for up to 24 hours.

Your most fertile days are the two days leading up to ovulation day. Learn when this is for you.

The following chart represents chances of conception from sexual intercourse during your fertile window.

Chances of conception in relation to ovulation

What is ovulation?

Put simply, ovulation is the release of an egg from an ovary. The egg only lives for up to 24 hours unless fertilized. What's more, you only ovulate about 400 times in your lifetime.

When do you ovulate?

The short answer to this is most women ovulate 15 days before their next period. Calculate when you ovulate with our free tool, get started.

Here's why; The menstrual cycle is split into phases (you'll learn more about these below). The length of the phase after ovulation until the day before the next period (luteal phase) is normally between 12 and 16 days, with the average length being 14 days. The luteal phase remains fairly consistent for the same women. In contrast, the phase before ovulation (follicular phase) can vary from cycle to cycle for the same women.

The follicular phase begins on the first day of your period and ends on the day of ovulation. The luteal phase begins the day after ovulation until the day before your next period.

The image below will help you understand this further. Click on the image below to see a larger view.

Cycle Length, Varying Follicular Phase, Consistent Luteal Phases

This 15 day rule is based on the average. Once you know your luteal phase you will be able to calculate how many days before your next period you should ovulate.

Ovulation normally occues 15 days before your period

What are the symptoms of ovulation?

It's easier to identify these when you first understand the events that occur during the menstrual cycle.

Your menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period and ends on the day before your next period.

The average cycle length is 28 days, but anything between 21 and 35 days is considered normal. For the purpose of describing the events, we will use a 28-day cycle.

The menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones and can be described as the event of changes which occur in the uterus and the ovary.

Pattern of events that happen in the uterus and ovary each cycle.

Cycle Days Uterus Ovary
1-5 At the beginning of each cycle, your uterus shreds the lining (endometrium) that was built in the previous cycle in preparation for a new lining. A few follicles (capsules, each containing an undeveloped egg) are stimulated to grow in the ovary. Only one will become the dominant follicle that will release its egg during this cycle. Learn more about follicle development.
6-12 A new lining begins to grow. The hormone estrogen causes the dominant follicle to quickly grow in size. Estrogen also causes your cervix to change and release cervical fluid. Explained later.
13-14 Ovulation Rising levels of estrogen trigger a surge of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) which provides the egg in the follicle with a final push to mature in the last 12-24 hours before it's released (ovulation).
15-20 The hormone progesterone causes the endometrium to thicken in preparation for implantation (when a fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus). The released egg moves down the fallopian tube towards the uterus. The follicle (now called the corpus luteum) stays in the ovary and produces a hormone called progesterone. Progesterone is also responsible for your BBT to rise. Explained later.
21-28 if the egg was not fertilized Progesterone levels drop; the endometrium starts to break up until it can no longer support itself. The endometrium is shed again (the beginning of a new cycle). The corpus luteum stops producing progesterone.
21-28 if fertilization occurred Approx. 8 days after ovulation the fertilzed egg will attach to the wall of the uterus (implantation). The corpus luteum receives 'human chorionic gonadotropin' (hCG) from the embryo. hCG makes the corpus luteum keep producing progesterone for about another 8 weeks after which time the placenta takes over progesterone production throughout pregnancy.

The image below represents changes in the ovarian cycle, click it to zoom.

Ovarain cycle changes

And the following image represents changes in the uterine cycle, click it to zoom.

Uterine cycle changes

As mentioned, the table of events above represents what typically happens during a 28 day cycle. If your cycle is longer or shorter these events will happen on different cycle days.

An important note about cycle lengths: As mentioned above, cycle lengths vary from woman to woman and from cycle to cycle, however, the phase after ovulation until the next period, known as the luteal phase, is normally consistent for the same woman.

So, now that you know the events that occur during a menstrual cycle, let's take a look at the ovulation signs that can occur in relation to these events.

1. Cervical mucus

Cervical mucus, also know as cervical fluid (CF) is a perfectly natural and normal substance that is produced by glands in your cervix which is released into the vagina. It acts as both a barrier and a transport for sperm (depending on the phase in the cycle). It's made of about 93% water, reaching 98% mid cycle, and contains electrolytes, glucose and proteins.

During each cycle your cervical mucus goes through a pattern of changes under the influence of hormones.

The best way to check the consistency of cervical mucus is with your fingers, try to stretch your cervical mucus between your finger and thumb. We asked 9,812 women how they check their cervical mucus, here are the results.

Cervical Mucus Study Result

Dr Tash: Cervical Mucus & Predicting Ovulation

See our step-by-step guide for cervical mucus observations.

2. Cervix changes

The cervix plays a big role in the female reproductive system. Your cervix connects your vagina to your uterus and acts as a barrier which opens to allow sperm to enter your uterus when you're fertile and stays closed at other times.

You can learn when you're approaching ovulation by identifying the changes your cervix goes through.

We asked 9,823 women who were actively trying to conceive, if they were checking their cervix to learn when they were ovulating. Most said they didn't know how. Here are the results.

Cervical Monitoring Survey Results

Your cervix position, opening and texture changes during the fertile phase of your cycle. These changes can be observed by feeling your cervix. The changes are easy to learn, but should be observed over a few cycles to ensure you are confident in identifying the changes.

Before fertile phase

Before your fertile phase your cervix will feel hard (like the tip of your nose), lower in the vagina, closed and dry (cervical fluid has dried up).

Fertile phase

As you enter your fertile window and approach ovulation your cervix will change. It will feel softer (like your lips), higher, open and wet (due to the presence of cervical fluid). This is known as 'SHOW' (soft, high, open, wet).

After fertile phase

After ovulation the cervix reverts back to its infertile position. You are most fertile when your cervix is in the 'SHOW' state.

Quick video by Dr Tash: Monitoring Your Cervix

See our step-by-step guide for cervix observations.

3. Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

Your BBT is your lowest temperature at rest, usually when you are sleeping.

Tracking your BBT is one of the best ways to detect if and when you ovulated.

We asked 8,796 women who were trying to conceive, if they were tracking their BBT.

BBT Survey Results

Read on to learn why you should and how to track your BBT.

After ovulation, high levels of progesterone will cause your BBT to rise slightly and stay elevated until the end of your cycle (cycle days 15-20 in the events table). This natural fertility sign occurs after ovulation, so whilst you can't use it to help you this cycle, you can use it to help predict when you're fertile in future cycles.

The rise is only about 0.5 degrees F to 1.0 degrees F so you need to take your BBT with a digital thermometer that can measure to one tenth of a degree.

BBT thermometer

View detailed instructions on how to monitor your BBT, or see the overview below.

Starting from the first day of your period take your temperature each morning at the same time, as soon as you wake. It's important to take your temperature before it naturally increases from movements, so it's a good idea to set an alarm and take it before even sitting up in bed.

Take your temperature in your mouth by inserting the tip of the thermometer under your tongue and push it toward the back where the tongue meets the bottom of the mouth. Leave it in there long enough to get an accurate reading.

Do this each day and record the temperatures on a chart (there is one below you can download for free) or add them to your daily log in Ovulation Calculator. You will notice the temperature shifts and it stays higher until the end of your cycle. The shift happens about one to two days after ovulation.

Download BBT Chart

Download...

Celsius Fahrenheit

4. Saliva ferning

A ferning pattern of your saliva is another possible sign of when ovulation is about to occur. There are special microscopes for this purpose, but you could technically use a toy microscope. A ferning pattern is a pattern that looks like frost on a windowpane. The ferning pattern appears during the LH surge (cycle days 13-24 in the events table), which occurs about 24-36 hours before ovulation.

Saliva OPK

5. LH levels in urine

Although not a natural sign of fertility without the aid of an ovulation prediction kit (OPK), this is a popular way for women to find out when they are about to ovulate.

There are two types of kit available, those that check urine, and those that check saliva. We have mentioned the saliva type above.

Urine based OPKs look for the LH surge (cycle days 13-14 in the events table). The LH surge happens about 24-36 hours before ovulation, so they can be a good indicator to when you're fertile.

OPK

How to use an OPK correctly

As mentioned, OPKs look for this surge in LH and will show a positive result when this surge is detected. A positive result is expected the day before you are going to ovulate. However, unlike pregnancy tests that are looking for a hormone that is ONLY released AFTER conception, traces of LH are in your urine all the time. For this reason it's important you follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

Most OPKs will advise that you do not urinate for at least 4 hours before testing. This is to ensure that the hormone level in your urine is concentrated enough. And you should use the test the same time each day for consistency. Many women find that first thing in the morning is convenient. But check the instructions carefully to see what the manufacture recommends.

You are looking for the first positive result, so you need to begin testing before you expect to be fertile and then test every day until you get the first positive result. This is to ensure you do not miss the surge. If you test too late you may have missed the surge, but not only that, you may not be able to tell if you are about to ovulate or if you have already ovulated as you can have an increase in LH in both cases.

Again, it is important that you begin testing until you get the FIRST positive result. You then know that you should be ovulating in about 24-36 hours.

How soon should I begin ovulation testing?

It depends on the kit you purchase. The following table is an example.

Cycle length Cycle day (CD) to begin testing
21 CD 6
22 CD 6
23 CD 7
24 CD 7
25 CD 8
26 CD 9
27 CD 10
28 CD 11
29 CD 12
30 CD 13
31 CD 14
32 CD 15
33 CD 16
34 CD 17
35 CD 18
36 CD 19
37 CD 20
38 CD 21
39 CD 22
40 CD 23

Types of urine based OPKs

There are two main types of urine based OPKs, paper / plastic strips and digital.

Paper / Plastic Strips
The paper and plastic strips can be used once. They have a control line and a result line. You dip the strip into a cup of urine for five seconds before checking the result. Some can be placed directly in your urine stream. A positive result is indicated when the result line is the same color or darker, than the control line.

How to use an OPK

Digital
The digital based kits show the result on a digital screen. Digital OPKs come with disposable test sticks that are fitted into the device before testing and then disposed of after testing.

Digital ovulation test kit

Quick video by Dr Tash: Using An OPK


How soon are you wanting to get pregnant?
ASAP | Within 3 months | When it Happens

6. Slight spotting

Some women may experience slight spotting due to a drop of estrogen at the time of ovulation. The drop in estrogen causes the endometrium (uterus lining) to decrease a little, causing slight spotting known as ovulation bleeding. Learn more about spotting due to ovulation.

Saliva OPK

7. Increased sexual desire

Several studies have found that women experience an increase in sexual desire when they are most fertile, around the time of ovulation.

"Wild and thrilling sex is the key to conception"

8. Heightened senses

Hormone levels in a woman's body can influence a heightened sense of smell, taste or vision around ovulation time.

9. Ovulation pain

Some women can experience a sensation and or cramping type pain during ovulation. The pain is felt in the lower abdomen, on one side, being the side of the ovary releasing an egg. This pain is called mittelschmerz, which comes from the German words for "middle" and "pain."

See the image below to see the follicle rupturing and releasing its egg at ovulation.

Saliva OPK

10. Abdominal bloating

Another sign of ovulation is slight bloating. You may feel slightly bloated in the abdomen around the time of ovulation. This symptom can be caused by increased water retention due to a rise in the hormone estrogen.

11. Breast tenderness

Some women experience tenderness in their breasts just before or after ovulation. This is related to the hormones in your body, getting ready for ovulation and the potential of pregnancy.

12. Nausea or headaches

Some women feel nauseous or have headaches before ovulation, due to being sensitive to hormone changes.

Conclusion

Knowing when you're most fertile from your ovulation signs can increase your chances of getting pregnant sooner.

With a little bit of practice you'll get to know the pattern of events that happen each cycle and be able to pinpoint when you're ovulating.

The best time to have intercourse is in the two days leading up to ovulation day.

On average, women who use Ovulation Calculator get pregnant in 58 days versus the US National average of 180 days. Click here to get started.

 

To help you remember the natural fertility signs, take a look at the following infographic.

10 Signs of Ovulation Infographic

Click here to see a larger view of the image

Embed the 10 Signs Of Ovulation infographic on your site (copy the code below):
<div style="clear:both"><a href="https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/ovulation-symptoms-signs/"><img src="https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/img/uploads/2015/06/10_Signs_of_Ovulation.jpg" title="10 Signs Of Ovulation" alt="10 Signs Of Ovulation" border="0" /></a></div><div>Courtesy of: <a href="https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/ovulation-symptoms-signs/">Ovulation Calculator</a></div>

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Got a question or a comment? Please leave one below.

New Join the Discussion!

  1. Florence Jul 18, 2016
    When should I stop having sex during ovulation?
    1. Sarah (OC Team): Hi, Are you trying to get pregnant or avoid getting pregnant? - (Jul 18, 2016)
    2. Debi: i want to prevent sex my problem is i dont no when is my safe periods - (Jul 19, 2016)
    3. Sarah (OC Team): Hi Debi, The 12 signs of ovulation above can also help you know when you're not in your fertile window. - (Jul 19, 2016)
    Reply
  2. Paulina Jul 19, 2016
    i am 42 years old, can i conceive?
    1. Sarah (OC Team): Hi Paulina, It depends on many things. Have you had a pregnancy to full-term before? How long have you been trying to conceive this time? Have you seen a fertility specialist? Please have a look at this article too: https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/fertility-older-age/ - (Jul 19, 2016)
    Reply
  3. Lydia Jul 19, 2016
    How can I conceive?
    1. Sarah (OC Team): Hi Lydia, Start by joining Ovulation Calculator and entering in your cycle details to find out when you're fertile. Then read our fertility knowledge, such as the article above to learn your natural fertility signs. We send new members our education series of emails too. Join by going to the home page. - (Jul 19, 2016)
    Reply
  4. Cherry Jul 22, 2016
    What should I do if am not ovulating?
    1. Sarah (OC Team): Hi Cherry, How do you know you're not ovulating? Do you have amenorrhea (lack of periods)? Or is is that you can not detect ovulation with any of above signs including BBT? Or something else? The first thing to do is go and speak to your doctor, they will be able to best advise tests / options. - (Jul 22, 2016)
    Reply
  5. Stella Jul 23, 2016
    Hello, I have taken microgynon for 1 year now. l started a new pack this month and stopped taking them after taking only 5 tabs so I stopped on 10/7/16 and my last periods started on 3/7/16 lasting 5 days and the next period is due on 31/7/16. I'm trying to get pregnant so I had sex on 11,12,13 of this month and I noticed I had bleeding on 14, 15 and 16 then I had sex on 17 all the way to today the 23/7/16 omitting only on 20. I'm sure I had some abdominal pain on 20,21,22 though it was slight pain on the left side. 1. Can I really be pregnant even if I have been taking pills for one year. l really need a baby but am scared I took pills long enough, it's makings anxious n stressed. 2.The bleeding that I had for 3 days is it withdrawal bleeding or implantation bleeding. 3. My next period should start on 31/7/16 am really hopping for the best results. 4. Can someone get pregnant immediately after stopping the pills. 5. Av heard people saying that one can even end up missing their period.
    1. Sarah (OC Team): Hi Stella, 1. Yes you can get pregnant after stopping the pill. 2. It's hard to know, please read more about implantation bleeding here: https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/implantation-bleeding-or-period-quiz/ 4. Yes, it's possible. - (Jul 24, 2016)
    2. Stella: Hi Sarah, just needed some clarification, can I get pregnant immediately after stopping pills or it will take a while before I get pregnant. My periods are to start on 31/7/16 and I have done pregnancy test twice but all are negative or should I just wait till 31st. I have read the link you sent me, it was helpful, thanks alot. - (Jul 24, 2016)
    3. Sarah (OC Team): Yes, it's possible. It may take a few months for your cycle to return to normal, but it is possible that you ovulate and get pregnant straight away. You should test two weeks after ovulation. Note, it takes the average couple 6 cycles to get pregnant though. - (Jul 24, 2016)
    Reply
  6. Stella Jul 23, 2016
    Sarah, l have posted a question I hope to get some advice From you, will really appreciate. Thanks.
    Reply
  7. Stella Jul 24, 2016
    Thanks Sarah, I will read on the link you have posted for me, am really grateful.
    1. Sarah (OC Team): You're welcome. - (Jul 24, 2016)
    Reply
  8. Stella Jul 24, 2016
    Hi Sarah, just needed some clarification, can I get pregnant immediately after stopping pills or it will take a while before I get pregnant. My periods are to start on 31/7/16 and I have done pregnancy test twice but all are negative or should I just wait till 31st. I have read the link you sent me, it was helpful, thanks alot.
    1. Sarah (OC Team): Yes Stella, please see my response to your reply above, thanks. - (Jul 25, 2016)
    2. Stella: Hi Sarah, thanks for your response above, it is really helpful and thanks for your time also. - (Jul 26, 2016)
    Reply
  9. Ebong Jul 25, 2016
    It's a pleasure reading thru these.
    Reply

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