Ovulation: Primary and Secondary Signs

When Do I Ovulate During My Menstrual Cycle?
Listening to Your Body and Reading the Signals

This article provides a brief overview of those both celebrated and less valorized signs of ovulation and high-fertility. Each of these physiological signs are dealt with in-depth throughout our site, so we'll provide links to articles that elaborate on these topics in detail. Bookmark this page as an index for looking up potential fertility signs and natural cycle patterns that indicate when you are most like to become pregnant.

The cycle days prior to and during ovulation mark your period of highest fertility. Timing lovemaking during this window of opportunity will vastly increase your chances of getting pregnant - that's a fact any doctor will confirm. Understanding the natural body signals that anticipate when you ovulate - or confirm that ovulation has taken place - is the key to distilling fertility patterns, predicting peak fertility, and timing lovemaking accordingly.

Above all, the purpose of understanding these signs is to learn from your body and recognize your body's unique fertility patterns (within the large context of your monthly menstrual cycle). Indeed, your patterns - or personal fertility profile if you will - are what you are looking for, and these bodily indicators, signs, and signals can be noted on a comprehensive fertility chart so you can observe calendrical patterns from month to month. You'll also be able to cross-check fertility indicators with other signs or home ovulation testing results.

If you understand how your menstrual cycle works, read on... If you need a brief refresher on your menstrual cycle (as well as the dynamics of fertility and reproductive processes) click here.

Primary Ovulation Signs: The Fundament of Your Fertility Chart

Changes in Cervical Mucus (CM): During your cycle, you should be able observe and record changes in the look and feel of cervical fluids (also referred to as cervical mucus, or CM). When it comes to examining cervical fluid, there are three referential poles for determining fertility patterns: the amount of CM present, the appearance/color of CM, and the texture of CM. On another referential axis - and based on these descriptive factors above - you will be able to determine if you are experiencing Non-Fertile CM, Transitional CM, or Fertile CM.

Non-Fertile CM: When you are not fertile, cervical fluids will be scant or not present at all. You may experience sensations of dryness, or your cervical mucus will be sticky, firm, and will not stretch between the fingertips (it will break). Non-fertile CM will hold its form. From a visual standpoint, non-fertile cervical mucus will be opaque (can't see through it) and of a white or yellow color. You'll experience non-fertile CM both early and late in your cycle.

Transitional CM: As you approach your ovulation date, estrogen-based hormones flood the body and facilitate changes in the structure of cervical fluids. Now, you'll start to see an increase in the amount of CM, as well as tactile and visual changes. Transitional CM will start to thin out, will be less able to hold its shape (from a formal or structural standpoint), and should become less sticky. While the color may remain white or yellow, you may be able to view a translucent quality to the CM.

Fertile CM: Around the time you ovulate, you should be able to observe big changes in the quality and quantity of CM. CM should be abundant, thin (even watery to some degree) and very stretchy: In fact, it should be able to stretch between your fingers without breaking and will not hold its form. To the eye, fertile cervical fluids will be more transparent and if you hold it up to light, you may be able to see through it to some degree.

More on Cervical Mucus...
> How to Observe Cervical Fluids
> Spinnbarkeit (Egg-White CM)
> Reproductive Purpose of Cervical Mucus
> Products to Support Cervical Fluids: Fertile CM

Position and Feel of Your Cervix: As with cervical mucus, the position and feel of your cervix will also undergo several marked changes during your menstrual cycle. You can detect theses changes through simple self-examination with clean, dry fingers.

The cervix is the part of a woman's body that connects the vagina to the uterus. As you approach ovulation, the cervix will soften and become moist. The cervical entrance will open and the tip of the cervix will begin to lift. Of course, all of these descriptive terms are relative and require that you monitor the position, texture, and openness of the cervix throughout your cycle.

By writing down daily observations on your fertility chart, you will be able to flush out the unique patterns of these descriptive characteristics. You will also be able to determine how the patterns of one unique fertility sign (cervical position) cross-reference and temporally parallel other fertility signs (e.g., CM, ovulation test results). Read more about cervix position and ovulation.

Charting Basal Body Temperature: BBT charting with a basal thermometer is typically considered the primary foundation of your overall fertility chart/ovulation calendar. In brief, bbt charting requires you to measure your resting temperature each morning before getting out of bed. When you ovulate, progesterone levels will increase - and progesterone will heat up the body markedly. Therefore, once ovulation takes place you will be able to recognize a increase in your baseline body temperature. This increase will start with ovulation and last for most of the rest of your cycle, trailing down right before you have your period.

BBT charting performs two major functions. It 1) Allows you to determine when you ovulated during your cycle 2) Verifies that ovulation in fact took place. Besides these key function, BBT charting can also tell you many important things about your menstrual cycle (length of luteal phase) and many women claim they can detect pregnancy by monitoring BBT temperatures.

More on BBT Charting..
> How to BBT Chart
> Mercury-Free Basal Thermometers
> Question and Answers about BBT Charting

Secondary Fertility Signs are more contingent than the primary signs above. This means that they may not occur in all women - and in the case of ovulation spotting or mittelschmerz, only a minority of women will experience these body signals. It also means that variation in intensity and duration of these body signals will also be unique and difficult to "universalize". That said, by educating yourself to what characterizes these physical signs, and by knowing when they might occur, you may develop a more acute awareness and start to recognize feelings and sensations that would otherwise be attributed to causes unrelated to fertility or completely disregarded.

Increased Libido: Around the time you ovulate, you may experience increased libido and a higher overall sex drive. This makes sense, considering that your body is preparing itself to become pregnant; its logical that you might feel a libidinal charge this time of month.

Breast Sensitivity: After you ovulate, progesterone is secreted by the corpus luteum. This increase in the hormone progesterone may also contribute to increased breast and nipple sensitivity directly following ovulation.

Mittelschmerz (Ovulation Pains) and Spotting During Ovulation: Mittelschmerz - a pain on one side of the lower abdomen - is caused by the egg bursting form the ovary at the very moment you ovulate. This bursting forth may also cause a very light bleeding with resultant spotting (a faint appearance of blood that may show up, for example, in cervical fluids). While only about 20% of women will experience ovulation pains, even less will be able to detect ovulation spotting. Nevertheless, both of these symptoms do allow you to pinpoint fertility as they are physical-symptomatic correlates of the very process of the ovulation itself.

More on BBT Charting..
> Ovulation Spotting
> Ovulation Pains
> Symptoms
> Implantation Bleeding

Comments

i was wondering if you miss 3 pills if you could get pregnant,,i am only 17 and i know my bf who is 17 dont want one and im scared,,plzz help.and i know i am not ready for one

@Andie - Your statement bleeds of ignorance. Some women do not have the luxury of "trying to let things happen". Some women HAVE to plan. Does it take the 'fun' out of it? I'm sure it does. When you include certain physical factors such as low sperm count, etc... a certain degree of planning is required. And tell me, how does one planning a pregnancy negate the fact that they would be good "healthy" parents? I know plenty of couples whom let things just "happen" that should NOT be having children. Same goes for those that plan it. How you conceive your child has NO bearing on your level of parenting. That stands to morals and the character of an individual. I know a fair amount of couples who "let things happen" and 1, 2 even 3 years later still were not pregnant/had children. I've also known couples that it happened that first month. You don't become "robots" because you plan around a schedule... and planning for a specific time (as you said 5am above) is a call each couple makes on their own. If you and your partner work and you know you are O'ing that day, why not have a quickie before work? Hell, I'm sure the commute won't be so bad after. My husband and I are planning. We're both in our late 20's and have 2 other children. We like the sensation of planning, and trust me, it's not robotic or a chore. We just know from let's say, Mon-Sat, it's the ideal time. And you don't have to have sex the DAY of to guarantee conception. Hell, even every other day would be fine. I think you took it too literal and though other's are granted their own opinion, try not to be so righteous in your own opinion that you put others down for their decision in your wake.

my circle ranges b/w 28 and 30, but most times b/w 28 and 29 and my period takes two complete days. My question now is how do I dictate my ovulation days counting by the calendars.

Do you have to plan everything!?! 5 am "sessions" with your husband? Don't you think that's the last thing he'd want to do - waking up way earlier than usual, so that he could fulfill your dreams of conceieving on the 18th day of your cycle (or whenever you're demanding you get pregnant?) No wonder we get upset if we plan pregnancies and they don't happen when we want them - we've forgotten that we are not always in control of what happens in our lives.... It's absurd to think we have control over such a beautiful priveledge of having children. My husband and I are just starting to "let things happen", but we would never plan our intimacy around a calendar. He's not a robot, I'm not a robot either, and I feel like many couples our age (late 20's) are forgetting the fundamentals of being good, healthy couples for the sake of being a "mom and dad" to keep up with other people.

i have been taking cezette for 3 weeks i stopped it 4 days ago as me and my partner have got 3 boys and have decided to try for a girl how long can it take for me to fall pregnant and how and i going to follow the suggestions to try for a girl if i dont know when im ovulating in order to not have sex 3to 4 days b4!!!! help im so desperate for a baby girl so is my partner

at first i was paraniod about being pregnant. I finish my period and the 2nd day after i finished it I was fondiling with my boyfriend, could that mean im pregnant? Also i realize a change in my discharge which is tending to stretch and not break so i am assuming im ovulating, so could i still be pregnant?

i had my periods on 8th aug 2010, my cycle ranges from 29-32 days. we started having sex with my hubby on 18 every 5.am in the morning. On 19th i had very painful spasms in the afternoon on my left lower abdomen that forced me to take 2 buscopan tabs.on 20th in the evening i experienced a mucus clear discharge that stretched to abt 2-3cm. we had sex that night. we have continued with our sex shedule of 5am everyday. my question is, could i have ovulated before my OVULATION day as per calendar? and what are my chances of being pregnant?

my cycle was 27 to 32 days, i m observed my mucous changes and i had sex with these days but i got negative result. my husband have diabetic, what can i find the most suitable days,

i have just been to the doctors for a internal scan when she put the tongs in a very large pain occured and my cervix stared to bleed. the dr didnt give me any information an now im wondering what is happening to me? im also trying for a baby and just had my ovulation date yesterday but i think im ovulating today i had sex yesterday so is there a chance i could get pregnant this month? please could you get back to me?

i recently observed that about the 13th to 15th day from my menstrual cycle which suppose to be my ovulation, i will be feeling a hot sensation at the lower part of my back. is this a sign of ovulation or does it have adverse effect on my fertility? i've been worried about this cos i've been trying to get pregnant for over a year now and it kept being negative.

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By TTC veteran and mother of two, Elizabeth Andrews.