O-day: How to know when you're ovulating

We discuss the indicators of ovulation and some smart ways to track your cycle.

Ovulation might be something that you haven't thought about in depth since health class in high school, but if you're trying to conceive it's important to reacquaint yourself with it.

Dr David Molloy, Medical Director of Queensland Fertility Group, says that when trying to conceive, “women should have a working knowledge of how their ovaries function, how their eggs are produced and what the timing of their cycle is”.
 
A woman is born with her lifetime supply of eggs already in her ovaries. From puberty, one or more eggs are released each cycle until menopause. 

In a fertile woman's natural ovulation cycle, the pituitary gland releases a surge of luteinising hormone (LH) that travels like a messenger to tell the ovary to release an egg.  
 
Once an egg is released it only survives for approximately 24  hours. By starting to identify ovulation you become a step closer to pinning down the narrow window of time in which sperm can meet the egg in the fallopian tube and result in a pregnancy.

Tracking ovulation

Dr Molloy says that some women find it helpful to download an app that will track their reproductive cycle and predict the day of ovulation; however, he cautions that it is important to be aware that these calendars simply calculate information based on an average cycle, so, depending on the woman, they can turn out to be inaccurate.
 
Other indicators of ovulation can include mild abdominal cramps, a change in the cervical mucus, which becomes thick and stretchy, and a small rise in body temperature taken first thing in the morning.
 
Dr Molloy advises, however, that these indicators may be unreliable. For a more exact indication, it might be worth trying an ovulation predictor kit (OPK), which measures the surge of LH via a urine test to predict when an egg is about to be released.
 
“Ovulation predictor kits can be quite reliable,” says Dr Molloy. 
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Ovulation: Day by day

Problems with ovulation

See your doctor if you suspect that you are not ovulating regularly. Your doctor will be able to give you the most accurate idea of your ovulation by measuring hormones throughout your menstrual cycle.
 
Dr Molloy says that depending on a woman's age, ovulation disorders can usually be corrected with the right medical care.
 
“The tier one of treatment for ovulation disorders is ovulation drugs; tier two, if the ovulation drugs aren’t applicable or don’t work, is the IVF program, which is a stronger, more firm method of ovulation induction."
 
For an ovulation calculator, click here.

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