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. But we can get pretty close!
Easiest Way to Begin 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, through your PCP, OBGYN, or reproductive endocrinologist.
What an LH Surge Means
A positive LH surge means the pituitary is sending out the signal to trigger ovulation. It doesn’t let you know that the ovaries acknowledge the signal or that the right process begins.
Changes in basal body temperature can also let you know if you’ve ovulated or not. Many women like tracking basal body temp 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 rely on physical signs alone. (Because other things will change your body temperature and your cervical mucus!) Once you begin to understand when you tend to ovulate through other methods, basal body temp and cervical mucus are great things to follow.
The closest way we can get to see if someone has ovulated is to do a pre-ovulation vaginal ultrasound, and a post-ovulation ultrasound (based on the 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 practically the same, it’s safe to bet 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.
Upcoming Topics in the Series
The next article in our series is all about blood sugar regulation, which is fitting after we discussed ovulation!
Stay tuned, you won’t want to miss it!