How can I know if I'm ovulating?

Dr. Grant L. Campbell, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Methods for ovulation evaluation include basal body temperature (BBT) charting, ovulation predictor kits, endometrial biopsy, ultrasound, and blood progesterone testing. BBT charting does not directly detect ovulation but it helps indirectly to confirm or disprove ovulation.

Ovulation causes the release of progesterone and increases temperature by 0.5 to 1.0 degree Fahrenheit. Ovulation predictor kits detect luteinizing hormone (LH) in the urine. LH is the brain hormone that stimulates the ovary to release the egg. It is another indirect way to evaluate for ovulation. Endometrial biopsy (removing a piece of tissue from the uterus) will determine ovulation but may produce some discomfort and isn't routinely recommended. Ultrasound can detect egg production, but blood progesterone testing is the definitive method for determining ovulation. Blood is drawn for progesterone one week after ovulation.

Here are some signs of ovulation to consider:

  • Breast or nipple tenderness, sensitivity or soreness: These symptoms are due to the rush of hormones entering your body right before and after ovulation.
  • Increased sense of smell, taste or sight: Heightened senses can be a sign of ovulation.
  • Light spotting or discharge: The follicle near the developing egg matures, grows and then ruptures, causing a little bleeding. The blood turns from red to dark brown as it gets older.
  • Consistent changes in your BBT: Your basal body temperature (BBT) is your temperature when you're fully at rest. Your nonovulating, normal temperature is 96 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. But when you're ovulating, it may be a half-degree higher.
  • Change in your cervical position and firmness: The cervix will be softer, more open and higher to let the sperm through on their way to the egg when you're ovulating.
  • Change in cervical mucus: You usually ovulate the day you have the most fluid. You are near ovulation or are ovulating if your cervical mucus or fluid looks like stretchy, clear egg whites.

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The simplest way to learn if you're ovulating is with a home ovulation predictor kit, easily available at drug stores or in the pharmacy section of the supermarket. The kit uses a few drops of urine to check for the increase in luteinizing hormone that usually occurs 24 to 36 hours before an egg is released. The kit needs to be used for several days in a row to track ovulation accurately. Tracking a woman's daily basal body temperature is another method of identifying ovulation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.