Ovulation Tracking And How It Helps You to Conceive
Been trying to get pregnant and it seems to be not happening as quickly or as easily as you thought it would?
Before you panic and rush off to a fertility clinic, it is worth considering that your timing may not be quite right. In fact, most doctors will refer you to a fertility specialist only after you have been unsuccessful in your attempts to fall pregnant for a period of 6-12 months, depending on your circumstances, and initially may talk to you about the timing of ovulation and sexual intercourse.
Fortunately a lot of research and development over the years has produced a few handy tools to help you get your timing right. Whilst there are services offered through fertility clinics using specialist equipment such as ultrasound and blood tests that can measure the exact concentration of hormone levels, there are some resources you can use in the comfort of your own home and they are generally referred to as Ovulation Trackers and Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPK’s).
Baby Hints and Tips recommends that you talk to your doctor if you are experiencing difficulty conceiving.
Ovulation & The “Fertile Window”
For many women, menstruation and ovulation usually occurs with fair regularity – approximately once a month from puberty until menopause (except during pregnancy and breast-feeding, although this is not always the case). For the purposes of calculating the length of your cycle, the first day of your period is considered Day 1 of your cycle. Over the course of the month the body will go through many hormonal changes, one of which triggers ovulation.
It is during the time immediately prior to ovulation that is commonly referred to as the “fertile window”. The hormonal changes leading up to ovulation are what are identified by the ovulation kits.
For couples trying to conceive it is usually recommended that they have sexual intercourse roughly every second day over the fertile window (several days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation). The reasoning behind this is that the male sperm can usually survive around 48 to 72 hours inside the female body, whilst the female egg is usually only viable for around 12-24 hours after ovulation. Essentially, you want some sperm ready and waiting for when ovulation occurs as the egg itself won’t last long after ovulation.
Ovulation Tracking – How It Works
You will find many online tools and mobile apps available to help you track your menstrual cycle and calculate when ovulation is likely to occur. If you are regular with your periods, these can be a good guide to determining when you may be likely to ovulate BUT they are not precise, they are an estimate only worked on the basis of the “average” female.
Calendar Ovulation Trackers
Generally, you will need to enter the date of the beginning of your last menstrual cycle (the first day of bleeding) and the length of your cycle for the calculator to do its job. Some calculators/trackers will require a few months’ worth of dates and some trackers may even ask for details of your daily temperature and vaginal discharge to assist in the calculation of the fertile window.
Using Cervical Mucus or Vaginal Discharge to Track Ovulation
Women can monitor their vaginal discharge to assist in tracking ovulation. There are changes in the appearance and consistency of the mucus produced by the cervix and by examining the vaginal discharge women can sometimes determine when they are in their fertile window. The consistency of the vaginal discharge during the most fertile period is best described as white or cream coloured discharge that is moist and sticky, a bit like raw egg white.
Online trackers or apps will have you record the changes in consistency.
Using Body Temperature Changes to Track Ovulation
This requires taking your body temperature daily at the same time every day and recording it to determine when you have a sharp rise in body temperature, which occurs at the time of ovulation. Women are most fertile in the two or three days prior to ovulation. This means that your fertile period is during the time prior to that spike in temperature.
Although some people swear by it, using temperature tracking exclusively can perhaps one of the least reliable methods of tracking ovulation as the temperature changes that are most easily measurable are usually after ovulation has actually occurred, therefore allowing a very small window when the egg is viable. Another obvious flaw with this method is that changes to your body temperature due to other factors will influence your recordings.
Over the Counter Ovulation Predictor Kits or Ovulation Trackers
Ovulation predictor kits can be broken down into two types: the urine tester and the saliva microscope. They are used to identify when you are ovulating by recognising chemical changes in your body. Typically you would use them for a few months to get an idea of how regularly your ovulation occurs and identify the “fertile window” and the times you should be having regular sex to better your chances of conceiving.
Urine Ovulation Tracking Kits
These test kits measure the hormone triggering ovulation, Luteinizing Hormone (LH), in your urine, which increases rapidly in the day or two prior to ovulation, around the middle of your cycle. Some tests also measure another hormone — estrone-3-glucuronide (E3G) which is produced when estrogen breaks down in the body, the conditions its presence produces can increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Manufacturers of these test kits assert that LH and E3G will be detected reliably about 90% of the time.
Like most at home urine tests, you would “pee on a stick” or dip the tester in some of your urine and the results can be read either on a monitor or compared to the scale accompanying the test, with multiple tests carried out over several days. Following all the test kit instructions carefully increases the reliability of the test. Typically you would use these tests if you want to know when you are likely to ovulate and be in the “fertile window” and they should not be relied upon to prevent pregnancy.
Saliva Ovulation Tracking Kits
This test involves the examination of your saliva under a microscope lens to identify a particular “ferning” pattern in the dry saliva which occurs due to increasing levels of salt and hormones such as estrogen in the saliva. The “ferning” pattern will usually occur from 2 days prior to and 2 days after ovulation, allowing for the prediction of the peak fertility period.
For most of these kits, to perform the test, some saliva is put on the lens provided and allowed to dry. The pattern of the dried saliva is then viewed to ascertain whether the “ferning” pattern appears. Instructions should be followed very carefully. This test can produce false positive or false negative results due to a variety of disrupting factors including, smoking, eating, drinking and brushing your teeth.
Part of the services that fertility clinics offer that are not available “over the counter” are the use of ultrasounds and a series of blood tests to determine your “fertile window”.
Blood testing usually starts from day 2 of your menstrual cycle and then repeated approximately 5 -7 times throughout the cycle. Changes in blood hormone concentrations, such as oestrogen, progesterone, LH and E3G, indicate when ovulation is likely to occur.
The appearance of the ovaries can indicate when ovulation is likely to occur or if it has occurred. As an egg matures the ovary develops a cyst called a follicle, which can be seen and measured on an ultrasound. This follicle may grow to about 2cm in diameter just before ovulation. Those changes to the ovaries are what a fertility clinic will be tracking when assessing your fertile window.
You can see that these methods of tracking ovulation require specialised equipment available only to doctors. Some of their services, depending on the clinic, may be bulk billed. It is worth talking to a clinic if you are experiencing ongoing difficulties conceiving and have exhausted all other avenues available to you at home.
Should I try using Ovulation Trackers?
You can see the various methods of tracking ovulation can have their own pros and cons. The ones involving the least cost can be a good starting point but used in conjunction with an over the counter ovulation tracking kit could produce some fairly reliable results for determining your fertile window.
We asked Australian mums about their experiences trying to conceive using ovulation trackers
You are not alone! If you’re trying to conceive, the Baby Hints and Tips community is standing by to share their experiences and put your mind at ease. We asked our community about their experiences trying to conceive and here’s what they had to say.
Medical disclaimer: Tips provided need to be considered in conjunction with medical advice. For immediate concerns, please contact HealthDirect (Australia wide) ph 1800 022 222 to talk to a registered nurse 24hrs a day, and in emergencies call 000
Community Question: I’m currently trying to conceive my second bub. I would just like any recommendations on accurate ovulation/fertile days apps or online calculators etc. I had my last period on the 27th of May and have a 29 day cycle. I have tried a few different apps which have all told me my fertile and ovulation days completely differently. I haven’t got the correct thermometer to track my temp so would like just an idea of people that have used apps etc that worked for them. I have used ovulation tester Kits which are still showing no LH surcharge. I’m starting to feel quite stressed and upset. Would love some opinions please.
- Buy a Maybe Baby. They sell them at chemists and other places I’m sure. Google it Kaitlyn
- I tried babycenter.com/ovulation-calculator. I got pregnant the first time after using it. I just didn’t want the world to know. Sending her baby dust!! – Anonymous
- I HIGHLY recommend the MAYBE BABY OVULATION MICROSCOPE! Kylie
- If you get your period before midday this is deemed day 1, if its after midday this is deemed day ZERO. On a 28 days cycle, ovulation will be approx day 14. Longer cycles push the days out – eg a 29 day cycle ovulation would be approximately day 15. I know this as me and my partner were TTC for approx 3 years and used an IVF for artificial insemination. Best thing to to do is buy ovulation Kit, Clearblue are the best although exprensive. This will show you your LH surge which stimulates ovulation. After you have seen your SMILEY Face it is best to do the deed that same day or the next day at the latest. Also remember that sperm lasts 72 hours inside the human body BUT the egg only lasts 12-24 hours so its ALWAYS best to have sperm in place waiting for a egg to fertilize. BEST of luck! Inbox me if you wish or want to know more. Carly
- Fertility Friend online – great for monitoring everything, great for ideas and information too. Buy yourself a basal body thermometer, much more accurate. Don’t stress – these things take time. xx Melissa
- No App can tell you when you ovulate. It’s just estimating the timing for you and each cycle can be different. If you have a 26-30 day cycle you are best to have intercourse 2nd daily from day 10 of your cycle so sperm is waiting for the egg, which has a short “lifespan”. There are clinics that can offer ovulation tracking with blood tests which can be of assistance if you don’t fall pregnant using this method ( this service is usually bulk billed so no cost to you….just your time in getting to the clinic). I’m a nurse at a fertility clinic. Sandy
- I know this sounds gross but I charted my mucous! I used an app as well but if you google the mucous changes you have when fertile, you pretty much get the day of being fertile. Worked both times for us! Rebecca
- Fertility Friend is the best app I’ve found. Even without temping. Take some of the pressure off and give yourself 4 months or so to get a baseline for the app and it will give you the most likely ovulation days. Good luck. Megan
- I don’t use an app to track ovulation. I base mine off changes in my body such as occasional pain in my pelvis, which is when my ovaries release an egg, and changes in cervical mucous. Also I get hot flushes when ovulating too. Generally you ovulate almost to the day, 2 weeks after your period starts. Kelly
- Count 10 days after first day of period. Then have sex every 2 days for 10 days then wait is on. Don’t have sex more than once every 2 days as the sperm won’t be maturities enough to live it’s normal life cycle. Krystal
- Having sex every 2-3 days is the best way to conceive. Make it fun and enjoy time with hubby before a second baby makes it near impossible to make time for each other. If you are only having sex a couple of times a month, you lessen your chances app or not, because its about his sperm having good turn-over rates. You don’t want to risk missing a random ovulation. Fifi
- Read a few different articles on ovulation times and signs that your body is ovulating. Their are quite a few baby/family sites with info on fertilisation and ovulation. Vaginal discharge changes leading up to and during ovulation, and as a general rule, you ovulate 14 days before your next cycle is due. Good luck. Nadia
- Look up online or buy the book natural fertility. The only way to really know when you’re ovulating is to know your body. It is very easy and works. An app will not know accurately like you could. Louise
- I used Fertility Friend app. It was awesome. But I also did take temp with a cheap thermometer I ordered off eBay. Works for us. I ended up with a 32 day cycle but we managed to fall first try. Worth a go! Good luck. Karen
- I used the “My Calendar” app which can be put on both your phone & tablet. I found that it worked wonders. It was also really accurate. We had been trying for 18 months before I started using it, after I found this app & programmed it with all the relevant information, I fell pregnant within 6 months. I also didn’t tell my partner I was using it as I didn’t want to take all the “fun” out of trying for my first & his second child. Try not to stress & just enjoy the “trying”. Good luck. April
- I just used a cheap digital thermometer. I was pregnant within two months after that, after guessing for 7 months with nothing happening. Day 10-11 for me of a 28-29 day cycle. Bethany
- Ovulation test kits work well but, as others have said, try outside your expected time for ovulation. I used one for baby number 2 and used two kits one after the other. I was into the second kit before ovulating. She was the only girl we had. We had four boys as well. They say boys and girls are conceived at different points during ovulation…….used my body’s changes for the others. Not saying that’s what did it but…. My friend swears by Maybe Baby. She used that for all hers. Donna
- Try using the kits again, but every day for the whole month not just the seven days worth that they give you. I was using them during the recommended period every month for most of a year when trying for my third. Most of the time I was getting no surge showing up and was getting very stressed and upset about it. I decided to try one last time before going to see a doctor, and after my first kit (used during the recommended period) ran out with still no sign of a second line, I bought another kit and got the second line on the very first test. It was three days later than what I had been expecting, so looks like I was ovulating just after the tests ran out each month. I am now almost ready to have twins from that very same cycle. Bernadette
- There is an app that is called Period Tracker which for me was eerily accurate and for a friend of mine too… I was using it to NOT get pregnant forgot to check it one week and got pregnant on my most fertile day!! And my girlfriend used it to GET pregnant with same result!! Good luck!! Cindy
- The MyDays app is the best. Kerry
- I used the Maybe Baby kit from the chemist. About $20 and never expires. Was pregnant in 3 months. Tegan
- A week before and after periods are your best chances to get preggy. Don’t make it a chore, just enjoy the sex and relax it will happen. Wendy
- I was told you are most fertile 10 days after your last day of your period…….. and it worked for me as I’m now a mummy to 6 week old twin girls. xClaire
- Using the ovulation kits – did you just go by the assumed ovulation dates?? I was not the norm with a 30 – 35 day cycle and I ovulated on day 23!! Worth trying different times in your cycle to see if changes in levels occur. Good luck. PS – Legs Up!! Eve
- Halfway through, when your discharge is “stringy”. I found that if I did it the day after, it worked! And just lay there after! Lol good luck!! Dianne
- Elevit had a cycle calculator which is simple to use. Annalisa
- I have a 28 day cycle and I ovulate on day 13/14. I have conceived my two daughters by this method. Amanda
- For a 29 day cycle you count the first day of your last period (as day 1), continue counting and the most fertile days are day 12-16, day 14 being most fertile! Good luck. Lisa
- Everyone is different. I used Maybe Baby from the chemist. Meant to be helpful to sway chances of a specific gender and it worked! Meg
- I used ovulation tests every day for 3-4 months, which told me I never ovulated – including the month I conceived my DD! So, from my experience, I will never use them again. Know a rough idea of when you might ovulate (like a 10 day period) and just go for it then. Don’t put any other thought into it. You know you’re fertile. It’ll happen. Jessica
- Cervical mucus is the best indicator. When it’s stringy then go for it! Amber
- I am a pro with this stuff. Use the OPK around 2-3pm everyday and limit fluid intake for the hour prior. My cycles were all over the place and I usually ovulate on d22 with a period d31-33. I found acupuncture very handy and it did bring my ovulation forward 6 days to d16. Although using Clomid (due to having no cycle), my specialist suggested blood ovulation tracking which they would start from around d10-12 through to ovulation measuring your Oestrogen and LH for rise. It is very accurate, and they would then tell you when to start to have intercourse (making sure you did a few times a week anyway). I did have side effects from Clomid as it pretty much dried up my cervical mucus, so I took evening primrose oil caps and ultra clean fish oil caps from my health food shop – it increased cervical mucus. I found temp tracking became a chore & I used to obsess about it so I stopped and that made me relax. So, although it’s a lot of blood tests, I found it was the way for me as my ovulation differed from month to month at the start. Hope this helps. Jenna
- You can buy ovulation sticks online that you pee on and they tell you if you are ovulating. They are not expensive. Worked for me:) Stephanie
- I just googled online calculators. But unless you have issues with conceiving, is it all necessary? I never did any temp checks or anything. Amy
- I used the app Period Tracker Lite. It was great. After using it for a month I was pregnant. Eunice
- Try babycenter.com/ovulation-calculator. A friend of mine used it and got pregnant on the first try using their calculations. Sending you baby dust!!! Teresa
- I use MY DAYS. It has a 1/2 purple 1/2 Red flower with a yellow polkadot in the middle. It’s a pretty good one. I’m either right on the day or no more than one day off from what its saying I should start. Amy
- I used this app, Period Calendar, to follow my periods and ovulation. It shows when the egg is there. I not only used this to know when to have sex but also when not to as we were trying for a boy. We now have a gorgeous 4 week old little boy thanks to that app. Cyra
- Ovulation is usually 7 to 14 days after your period and goes for 5 days. Not all ovulation things are accurate they just have an estimate. I use an app called Clue, which seems pretty accurate. Ellen
- I used an egg timer/ovulation app as well as ovulation tests I brought off eBay. They didn’t always match up exactly but the tests are accurate. Lauren
- I found tester kits the best/easiest way for me, as my ovulation is a bit all over the place. I bought in bulk on line from Fertility2Family which was WAY cheaper then chemists/supermarket and meant that I could test earlier and for more days. Kat
- I used the OvuView app, cheap ebay ovulation sticks & just a regular thermometer under the arm. Worked straight away for me. I have 29-31 day cycles and I ovulated on day 17 according to the test, the app had it a day earlier. We did the deed days 3,2,1 before ovulation. Good luck hun. Smash
- Those apps are useless unless you have a 28 day cycle and you ovulate on day 14 as per a ‘normal’ cycle. For me it’s not even close. Your best option is temping like you said, get some OPK testers and/or sex every second day for the whole month. Sasha
- Pinkpad is the best app, Geritol is a great supplement to help you conceive really quickly. Have sex every 2 days to keep sperm healthy and strong. Adriana
- I bought ovulation tests. You can buy in bulk from ebay. Bree
- Glow is a great app that will help you recognise changes in your body which indicate ovulation. Rebecca
- I’ve read that between your periods you get that creamy discharge (almost in between cycles exactly) that’s when you’re ovulating and have the best chance to conceive. I used this info to conceive number 2. Worked for me. Emma
- Stop stressing and trying to work it out. Trying for a baby is the fun part (unless it been many many months with no luck). Just enjoy it and, as long as you do the deed a week before your normal cycle and after (everyday if your so inclined, but at least every second or third), then you should be alright. Stress won’t help ovulation and implantation. Good luck and, most of all, have fun. Sherrealle
- I used the Mobile Mum Ovulation Tracker app. I fell pregnant the first month. Good luck. Alexis
- Above me, Kelly said body changes, but I never noticed any. If you’re like me, that won’t work. Don’t forget, it can take couples that have no problems at all years to conceive and if you just got off the hormone contraception may take you 6 months till you start ovulating. Mandii
- With a 29 day cycle. Day 10-15 would be your Ovulation days. But you should also be able to tell from paying attention to your body. You will produce more mucus. Anon
- I bought cheap ovulation tests on ebay and worked out when I thought I was ovulating then wee’d on the test strip. As soon as the strip said I was good, we were…well you know…. Rhiannon
- Do the dance every second day. You are bound to hit ovulation. The more you stress, the more it won’t happen. Enjoy trying. Amanda
- Let nature work its magic. I found the more I stressed over it, the longer it took. When I didn’t worry about it, it happened fairly quickly. Penny
- I had difficulties in tracking my ovulation even with the proper thermometer. I took my friend’s/doctor’s advice and had intercourse every two days after I finished my period, which worked. Turned out I ovulated much closer to ending my period than all the apps etc predicted. Jane
- 14 days counting from the start of your period is the most fertile. Gemma
- I gave up on apps telling me – I started checking my body for signs… My temp didn’t change much but around the dates the apps were saying I noticed changes in my body, boobs felt different, skin tone right down to discharge… Once I worked it out on my own, I fell pregnant straight away. Krystle
- Just count 10 days after the first day of your period, then go for gold for 5-7 days. Natalie
- Start trying as soon as your period ends. Forget the apps and learn about your cervix – start checking it for when it feels “open”. It took me 3 months to conceive bub 3. Rissa
- I never used apps, Google was my best friend when I was trying to conceive. First try both times for me. Have a look on Baby Centre, they’ve got a lot of helpful info on their site. Good luck. Katy
Share what you used for ovulation tracking in the comments below