Knowing when you’re fertile & ovulating is super helpful when you’re trying to either encourage or prevent a pregnancy. It’s also super important to know your body, throughout its different phases & cycles, so that if something is off, you know right away.
There are a handful of ways to tell if you’re currently ovulating, but since you are fertile 5 days before ovulation, it’s very important (some might argue that it’s MORE important) to know the symptoms of BOTH being fertile and ovulation.
Fertility & Ovulation in a nut…(shell…)
I want to explain ovulation first, even though fertility comes before ovulation in your cycle, it will make more sense if I explain it this way.
Ovulation happens when your ovary releases an egg. This egg will travel up the fallopian tube and chill here for about 12-24 hours, waiting for her hot date… yo’ man’s sperm.
Will he show, will he not show? Will she be stood up?
After about 12-24 hours, with or without her hot date, your egg will continue her journey into your uterus and attached herself onto your uterine wall.
If your egg is there solo, then she and your uterine lining will shed in about 7 days… this is your period.
If she is there with her hot date, then together they will begin to form a baby.
Now, because sperm can survive for about 3-5 days you are considered fertile 5 days before ovulation, in addition to being fertile on the day of ovulation. This means that if you had sex a couple days before you ovulate, your eggs’ hot date (Mr. Sperm) will be there, in your fallopian tubes, waiting to pick her up.
This small 6 day window is the only time you can get pregnant out of the entire month.
Blame it on bad sex-ed, but this still blows my mind! Does anyone else remember thinking/being told that you can get pregnant at any time during the month?!
So, the big question is… how do we spot fertility and how do we spot ovulation?
5 Ways to Spot Fertility & Ovulation
1. Cervical Mucus (CM): As you become fertile, you’ll notice a change in your CM. It will go from a dry/sticky consistency (not fertile) to a watery/silky raw “egg white” consistency when you’re ovulating or about to ovulate. Once you notice CM changing, know that you are becoming fertile. (see pictures here)
2. Cycle Charting: This is more of a “take notes now, so that you’re ready in the future” kind of knowing.
Our bodies love to be in rhythm. After just a few months of charting your cycle, you’ll be able to tell pretty much everything about your cycle, just by knowing what day it is. You’ll be able to look at your cycle/chart and know that it’s day 16 and you’re probably fertile. Or maybe it’s day 20 which means you’re most likely ovulating.
The book that helped me learn how to chart my cycles is Honoring Our Cycles and I can’t recommend it enough! You’ll also need a thermometer to check your basal body temperature (BBT). Any old one will do. This is the one I have at home.
3. A spike in BG/Insulin Resistance: I talk about this more in depth in my post here, but for a quick run down, here’s the skinny… The hormones that trigger your body to ovulate are insulin resistant hormones. So about 1 day before you ovulate you will probably notice an increase in your insulin needs. These hormones stay elevated until you menstruate.
4. Ovulation Stick: A surefire way to know if you’re ovulating is by peeing on an ovulation stick. These sticks detect the LH hormone (the hormone that triggers your body to ovulate and is insulin resistant). If the LH hormone is detected it means that your body will ovulate within 12-24 hours.
5. Taking your Basal Body Temperature (BBT): Your BBT temperature is the temperature of your body at rest. It’s best taken first thing in the morning, while still in bed. Typical BBT is about 96.5 F, but the day you ovulate you will notice a slight dip. The morning following ovulation you’ll notice a sharp increase that stays above your cover line for the remainder of your cycle. If you’re pregnant, your BBT will remain high. If you’re not pregnant, your BBT will drop below your coverline right before menstruation.