We get asked routinely about how to tell if you’re ovulating. This is a fantastic question and is certainly a big component to living in sync with your cycles.
Here’s the reality of knowing if you’re ovulating: there’s no easy way to know EXACTLY if you are. But we can get pretty close!
Easiest Way to Start Tracking
The easiest way to start tracking ovulation is through LH ovulation strips, which you’ve likely already heard of. These strips measure the hormone, Luteinizing Hormone which is made by the pituitary, in the urine.
You can also measure LH levels through blood work, which can be done through your PCP, OBGYN, or reproductive endocrinologist.
What an LH Surge Means
A positive LH surge means that the pituitary is indeed sending out the signal to trigger ovulation. It doesn’t, however, let you know that the ovaries heard that signal or that the right sequence of events took place after the signal was sent.
Changes in basal body temperature can also clue you in if you’ve ovulated or not. Many women like tracking basal body temps every morning throughout their cycle for natural family planning, along with cervical mucus changes.
However, if you’re truly trying to assess if you’re ovulating and it’s never previously been checked out, you can’t necessarily go by physical signs like this reliably. (Because other things will can change your body temperature and your cervical mucus!) Once you get an idea of when you tend to ovulate through other methods, basal body temp and cervical mucus can become great things to follow.
The closest way we can get to seeing if someone has ovulated is to do a pre-ovulation vaginal ultrasound and a post-ovulation ultrasound (based on blood work since you’ll be doing this at the doctor’s office). On the pre-ovulation ultrasound, there should be one dominant follicle and several others that were in the running the first half of the month. On the post-ovulation ultrasound, that dominant follicle should look collapsed if an egg was released. If it looks bigger but otherwise pretty much the same, it’s generally assumed that ovulation didn’t occur.
Lastly, there are some telltale period signs that may hint that ovulation didn’t occur. If you have an abruptly shorter cycle compared to your normal cycles, it could be that you didn’t release an egg that month. Longer cycles (>30 days) with heavy bleeding and clots can be another sign, although some women have longer cycles naturally so it may not always represent a problem with ovulation.
Up Next in the Series
The next article up in our series will be all about blood sugar regulation, which is fitting after we’ve talked about ovulation!
Check back soon so that you don’t miss it.