Ovulation typically occurs once a month between days 11 and 21 of your menstrual cycle, unless it's interrupted by periods of illness, stress, pregnancy or breastfeeding. Awareness of changes in your body's symptoms can help you learn to recognize signs of ovulation as they occur.
Ovulation could lead to a change in your cervical mucus. The fluid might become more "slippery" and "stretchy," with a consistency that resembles egg white. In addition, the amount you produce typically reaches a peak during your most fertile days of the month. You might also detect a change in the position and firmness of your cervix for a few days leading up to ovulation. Your cervix might feel softer, and in a position that seems more raised and open than usual.
Basal Body Temperature Changes
Ovulation is commonly associated with a slight decline in basal body temperature, the body's lowest temperature reading in any 24-hour period, a few days prior to ovulation. The temperature will spike between 0.5 and 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit once ovulation has occurred. You can predict your most likely day of ovulation and the most fertile days of your menstrual cycle by tracking your basal body temperature changes over several months. You'll need a basal body thermometer to take your temperature before you get out of bed.
Secondary signs are less common but still predictable indicators of ovulation. They include feelings of mild physical discomfort. For example, your abdomen might feel slightly bloated. You could feel mild twinges or cramp-like pains on one side, or your breasts might feel tender to the touch. Some women experience light spotting around the time of ovulation. Other secondary signs include heightened senses, such as an enhanced sense of smell, and an increased desire for sexual activity.
Each month, a surge in luteinizing hormone or LH triggers the release of an egg from one of your ovaries. It's a reliable sign that ovulation is likely to occur within 24 to 48 hours. An ovulation predictor test can alert you to raised levels of LH in samples of your urine. For optimum success, use the test at approximately the same time each day, and reduce your fluid intake for about four hours beforehand. A fertility monitor can also track significant changes in levels of LH and estrogen through samples of your urine and cervical mucus.