In Part One, we covered the benefits of charting and how to track basal body temperature. Let’s continue discussing other signs that provide valuable information.
Ovulation Predictor Kits
What it is:
A urine based OPK detects the increase or surge of luteinizing hormone (LH), that occurs about 1-2 days before ovulation. This is the trigger for ovulation, and the 12-26 hours between the LH surge and when you ovulate (when the egg is released) is the most fertile time of your cycle. It’s important to note these kits mark the trigger for ovulation, not that ovulation will definitely occur.
How to use it:
Similar to a pregnancy test, with OPK you either urinate on the stick or collect your urine in a cup and place the test strip in it. Coloured bands will appear, or a smiley face if using a digital kit, to indicate if the LH surge is occurring.
Ideally, test your urine in the morning and evening but avoid first morning urine because we’re more likely to miss the first day of the surge at this time.
Cervical Mucus Changes
What it is:
Cervical mucus is an alkaline, protein rich fluid that changes in consistency throughout the cycle. After menstruation, there are a few days where the mucous is dryer, or not noticeable. Leading up to ovulation, mucous wetness increases.
What it does: Fertile mucous nourishes and protects sperm from the acidic vaginal environment. It also helps to keep the cervix open to allow for sperm to swim through. Every month, the mucous fibers change from sticky and criss-crossed to straight, slippery channels that allow sperm to have an easy track to the cervix.
What is feels like:
Fertile mucus is slippery, clear and stretchy. Collect it from the vaginal opening with your fingers, and spread your fingers apart. Fertile mucous will stretch a couple of inches before breaking. Fertile mucous typically lasts for 3-5 days, and oftentimes leaves a circular pattern of discharge on underwear or provides an increased sensation of lubrication.
Other signs of ovulation
Other signs that you may experience around ovulation are increased libido, a swollen vulva, water retention, improved energy level, breast tenderness, increased skin sensitivity, and achiness near the ovaries (which has its own medical term called mittelschmerz).
Measuring basal body temperature and tracking cervical mucus changes and signs of ovulation is an efficient way to gather important information that can help guide you and your healthcare team on your fertility journey.
Written by: Faaria Karim (ND, USA. BC license pending)