By Eyinade Eweje
Trying for a baby? Learning to spot ovulation signs correctly can be useful. It calls for paying some extra attention to your body so you know when your fertile window (ovulating) is open and have sex when it’s most likely conception will take place.
On the flip side, it may also help you play safe, aiding birth control. Usually, conception is likely on the day a woman ovulates (the exact day an egg is released from the ovaries), or five days immediately preceding it. Though ovulation signs differ from one woman to the other, and may vary from month to month, here are usual pointers to watch out for:
1. Increase & Changes in Cervical Mucus
Ever noticed that white or cloudy discharge on your panties? This discharge from the opening to the womb changes throughout a woman’s cycle to indicate fertile and infertile periods. As a result of rising levels of oestrogen in the body close to ovulation, the amount of discharge increases gradually with changes in texture. Watch out for when the mucus becomes clear, wet, slippery and quite stretchy with a consistency similar to raw egg whites. This equips sperm to swim safely towards a recently released egg, optimizing the possibility of conception.
2. Position of the Cervix
The cervix (neck-like passage between your vagina and uterus which stretches during birth to accommodate your baby’s head) is usually low, firm (like the tip of the nose), closed and dry at the beginning of a cycle. However, as ovulation approaches, it pulls back up, softens (feels like the lips) and opens a bit (an expert says like a pair of puckered lips) to enable sperm swim swiftly to the released egg. To spot these, it helps to check your cervix daily. Wash your hands thoroughly and examine by inserting a clean finger, preferably the middle one, and chart your findings.
3. Mid-cycle Pain
Of course, this is not a definitive sign but studies show some women experience mild to moderate abdominal pain/cramps on the left or right side, depending on which ovary is releasing, about the same time during each cycle. This may last between a few minutes to 48 hours. If this sign occurs with the changes stated above or a few highlighted below, it may be the most appropriate time to try for a baby.
4. Increased Libido
You may also observe unusual knack for flirting, more sensitivity to touch as well as increased appetite for sex. You and your spouse may also find each other more appealing. Some experts say this is a biological reaction geared towards facilitating conception.
5. Rise in Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
BBT (taken with a basal body thermometer first thing when you wake in the morning) changes throughout your cycle as hormones fluctuate. The first half of a cycle is dominated by oestrogen. However, once ovulation has taken place, progesterone takes over increasing body temperature as it preps the uterus for egg implantation. According to Mayo Clinic, you’ll be most fertile during the two to three days before your temperature rises. Chart your BBT over couple of months to predict this period and make the most of it.
Along with some or all of these signs, you may also experience breast tenderness and enlargement, abdominal bloating, mood swings and increased energy. To make spotting ovulation less tedious, ovulation predictor kits (OPKs), available in pharmacies may help if you have a regular cycle.
Consult a gynaecologist, midwife or GP if you need further help, especially if your cycle is irregular or have concerns about your fertility, conception or birth control.