There are clear signs that almost every woman experiences right before she ovulates. Understanding the female cycle can allow a woman to notice any changes in her cycle, which may indicate a health concern, and also help her better understand her body. There are several signs of ovulation that can be useful in monitoring the menstrual cycle, once a woman knows what they are and what they mean.
A woman's temperature, if checked first thing in the morning, can alert her to the fact that she is about to release an egg. Before a woman ovulates, her temperatures are lower than they will be a few weeks later. Basal body temperature (BBT) charting requires the use of a specialized thermometer before a woman eats, drinks, or even gets out of bed. On the day after she ovulates, her temperatures will go up almost a whole degree.
Changes in the cervix is another indication that a woman is about to ovulate. During most of a woman's cycle, the cervix is low, firm, and closed tightly. When she is approaching ovulation, however, her cervix will get softer, raise up, and open, to allow sperm to easily enter the uterus. If a woman has already had a child, her cervix may not close up all the way. Instead, she will feel a small, flat opening on the tip. This will open up more during ovulation, and most women will still be able to notice a difference.
Another sign is changes in cervical fluid, sometimes called vaginal discharge. As a woman's body prepares to ovulate, her cervical fluid will become thinner and have a wetter feel to it. In the day or two before ovulation, the fluid becomes clear, thin, and stretchy, resembling raw egg whites. This cervical fluid is specially designed to assist sperm in reaching the egg. It is easy for them to travel through, unlike the fluid that is available other times of the cycle.
Monitoring some signs requires special tools. An estrogen surge, which reaches its peak right before ovulation, can be monitored using a fertility microscope. This microscope typically uses saliva, although some use cervical fluid, to detect the presence of estrogen. When a higher than normal amount of estrogen is present, dried saliva will have a distinct fern-like pattern than can be easily seen under the microscope. Luteinizing hormone (LH) also peaks right before ovulation, which can be monitored using a ovulation prediction test.
Some woman experience cramps, headaches, and breast tenderness as they near ovulation. A small amount of spotting and an increase in desire are also sometime signs of ovulation. All of these signs can help a woman discover her fertility window. Timing intercourse during these few days of peak fertility is the best way to achieve pregnancy.