1. Health

Signs of Ovulation

7 Ovulation Symptoms to Watch For

By

Updated February 13, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Woman with her hand over her chest

Breast tenderness can be a sign of ovulation.

9nong / Shutterstock

Signs of ovulation aren't difficult to notice, once you know what to look for. Some ovulation symptoms warn you that ovulation is approaching, allowing you to time sex for pregnancy. Others let you know that ovulation has passed.

While there are many methods below, don't try to use them all. That would drive you crazy!

If you don't notice any signs of ovulation, or your periods are irregular, you should definitely let your doctor know.

Quiz: Do You Have Infertility Symptoms?

Sign of Ovulation #1: Cervical Mucus Changes

As ovulation approaches, your cervical mucus changes in amount and consistency. By paying careful attention to the change, you can predict your most fertile days.

When you're not ovulating, cervical mucus may appear sticky, creamy, or may be entirely absent.

As ovulation approaches, cervical mucus becomes more abundant, takes on a watery to raw-egg-white-like consistency, and stretches up to an inch or more between your fingers.

Pros of using this method to detect ovulation:

  • 100% free.
  • Considered to be one of the most accurate indicators for timing sex for pregnancy.
  • Get to know your body better.
Cons:
  • Some people are grossed out by the idea.
  • Not a definite sign. You can have fertile cervical mucus, and not ovulate. (Common in women with PCOS.)
  • Clomid or antihistamines may dry up your cervical mucus, which may make detection difficult.

How to Check Your Cervical Mucus

Sign of Ovulation #2: Increased Sexual Desire

Turns out nature does know what it's doing (sometimes, anyway.)

Research has shown what many of us already notice: Women experience an increase in sexual desire when they are most fertile.

This libido boost comes a couple days before you ovulate, which is the right time to have sex if you want to get pregnant.

Pros of using this method to detect ovulation:
  • Doesn't require any know-how. Just being in tune with your feelings.
  • Worse comes to worse, if you have sex and you weren't about to ovulate, you still (hopefully) had a nice time with your partner.
Cons:
  • The stress of trying to conceive can squash sexual feelings. Also, depression or anxiety, common in couples coping with infertility, can lower sexual desire.
  • It's not a definite sign of ovulation. You may notice an increase in sexual desire at any time in your cycle, including right before your period, or even after watching a great Johnny Depp or Pierce Brosnan movie. (Or maybe that's just me.)

A Complete Guide to Baby Making Sex

Sign of Ovulation #3: Body Basal Temperature Changes

Body basal temperature charting is perhaps the most popular method of tracking ovulation among women trying to get pregnant.

Your body basal temperature is your body's temperature at rest. It will rise by a few tenths of a degree, and stay elevated, after ovulation.

To detect this rise in temperature, you need to take your temperature every morning, at the same time every morning, before you get out of bed. Then, enter this information into a fertility chart.

Pros of using this method to detect ovulation:

  • If your temperature rises, you can be almost positive that you ovulated.
  • It's low cost, and almost free (except for the purchase of a thermometer, which you probably already have).
  • May help your doctor make a diagnosis of anovulation, if the charts don't detect ovulation.
Cons:
  • Won't warn you that ovulation is coming, but only confirm that it has passed.
  • If your sleep patterns are unusually erratic, or you work the nightshift, body basal temperature charting will probably not work for you.
  • Some women feel overwhelmed by taking their temperature every morning. Also, worrying about every little fluctuation in temperature can make some women more anxious than they already are. It can easily become a bit of an obsession.

Become a Body Basal Temperature Charting Wizard

Sign of Ovulation #4: Changes in Cervical Position

Just as your cervical mucus changes as ovulation approaches, your cervical position also goes through changes.

When you're most fertile, your cervix will be higher, softer, and more open.

Think cervical checks are just for nurses and doctors? Actually, once you know what to feel for, anyone -- including you! -- can learn to check cervical position.

Pros of using this method to detect ovulation:
  • It's free.
  • Get to know your body better.
  • May help you figure out if you're ovulating, even when your cervical mucus is drier from antihistamines.
Cons:
  • Takes practice to get a feel (no pun intended) for the differences.
  • Some people are grossed out by the idea.
  • Not a definite sign of ovulation. Like with cervical mucus, you can have fertile cervical signs but not actually ovulate.

How to Check Your Cervical Position

Sign of Ovulation #5: Breast Tenderness

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

For me personally, the last confirmation I have that ovulation has occurred is breast tenderness.

Pros of using this method to detect ovulation:
  • It's free.
  • Helps you get to know your body better.
Cons:
  • It's by no means an accurate indicator of ovulation.
  • Breast tenderness may come before or after ovulation, as well as right before menstruation and as a side effect of some fertility drugs.
  • Getting too obsessed about how tender your breasts feel can lead to obsessing over imaginary pregnancy symptoms.

Feeling Pregnant When You're Not? All About Imaginary Pregnancy Symptoms

Sign of Ovulation #6: Positive Result on an Ovulation Predictor Test

Another common way of detecting ovulation is with an ovulation predictor test kit.

Ovulation predictor kits, sometimes referred to as OPK tests, require you to either pee on a test stick, or dip a special paper into a cup of collected urine, once a day for a week before you expect to ovulate.

There are two lines on the test strip. Whenever the test line is darker than the control line, the test has detected an LH surge. (This is the exact same hormone that causes fertile cervical mucus.)

Pros of using this method to detect ovulation:
  • If body basal temperature (BBT) charting isn't your cup of tea, an ovulation predictor kit can be used.
  • If cervical mucus is dried up from medications, you may still get a positive on an ovulation test.
  • You only need to bother with the tests for a week or two before you expect to ovulate.
  • If fertility charting gives unusual or confusing results, an ovulation predictor kit may clarify things.

Cons:

  • Expensive compared to other methods of ovulation detection. An ovulation predictor test kit for one cycle costs anywhere from $10 – 20 dollars. Over a year, that can add up.
  • Determining when the test line is darker than the control line isn’t always easy.
  • You can miss the LH surge and never see a darker line. For example, if you test Monday morning, and your LH surged Monday afternoon, by Tuesday morning, when you test again, it may be over already. (Some women test more than once a day for this reason – raising the cost.)
  • If you ovulate irregularly, you may need more than one kit per cycle.
  • Not a definite sign. You can have positive OPK results, and not ovulate. You can also have more than one LH surge detected per cycle, but only the last of those surges correlates to possible ovulation.

Using Ovulation Predictor Kits

Sign of Ovulation #7: Saliva Ferning

A unique and uncommon way to detect ovulation, a ferning pattern of your saliva is another possible sign of ovulation.

A ferning pattern looks like frost on a window pane. The ferning pattern appears during the body’s LH surge, which occurs 24-48 hours before ovulation.

There are special microscopes sold for this purpose, but you could technically use any toy store microscope.

Pros of using this method to detect ovulation:

  • Cheaper than ovulation predictor kits.
  • Unique! (Impress people at parties. “I was checking my saliva’s ferning pattern this morning, and...”)

Cons:

  • Uncommon. Won’t be easy to find people to ask advice from.
  • Many women find it difficult to detect the ferning pattern. (I tried it, and it seemed like I saw the pattern for almost two weeks. Not very helpful for detecting the most fertile DAYS.)
  • Just as with tracking cervical mucus and using ovulation tests, noticing a ferning pattern does not guarantee that ovulation will occur.

More on how to get pregnant:

Would you like to receive trying to conceive tips and fertility information every week? Sign up for a free fertility newsletter here, or sign up for a free online health course, 6 Days to Better Baby Making Sex.

Related Video
5 Signs of Ovulation

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.