Being able to accurately determine when you ovulate in your natural cycle is crucial when trying to get pregnant. There are many methods to help you determine your fertile days and the time when you will ovulate. Some of them you can use on your own, some require a visit to the doctor or laboratory tests. It is helpful to know the pros and cons of each method.
The most common ways to determine ovulation at home include:
– Daily body temperature analysis – your temperature should rise about 0.5 degrees during the preovulatory period, which may indicate that ovulation will occur within 24 hours.
– Home ovulation tests – test the levels of the hormone LH (which triggers the rupture of the ovarian follicle) in urine; these are usually in the form of disposable strip tests that visually display the levels of the hormone LH.
– Cervical mucus analysis – requires daily self-observation; during the fertile period the mucus should change consistency to that of egg white, becoming clear and malleable to help sperm make their way to the egg;
Some ways to confirm ovulation are methods that require a visit to the doctor and/or laboratory tests:
– Intravaginal ultrasound – this test allows you to evaluate a maturing ovarian follicle and determine at what point an egg will be released; the doctor also checks during the ultrasound to see how the uterine mucosa (endometrium) develops during the cycle, where the embryo will later implant.
– Laboratory tests – primarily a progesterone test during the cycle; the level of progesterone fluctuates during the cycle and rises at ovulation; the test can confirm whether or not ovulation has occurred.
The above methods have their advantages and disadvantages. – Analysis of body temperature is quite effective (according to some studies, about 90%), but it may also give a false picture in the case of a cold, exposure to stress or measurement errors (in which case the effectiveness drops to 20%).
– Opinions on home ovulation tests are divided – a lot depends on their quality, which is difficult to assess when reaching for a product on a store shelf. It is estimated that they detect ovulation in about 95% of cases.
– Observation of cervical mucus gives a good picture of the fertile days (46-76%), but is useless in the event of any intimate infection.
– The ultrasound examination is regarded as a reference (confirmatory) method – it allows a precise assessment of the cycle and ovulation. However, it requires a visit to the doctor and physical presence, which is a certain difficulty
– Similarly, laboratory tests – allow gaining valuable knowledge (90% effectiveness) but are connected with the necessity of going to a blood collection point, giving blood for analysis.