Ovulation FAQs

Do women always ovulate on Day 14 of their cycle?

No! The day of ovulation can vary among women as well as within each individual woman. However, once a woman ovulates, the time between ovulation and her menstruation is very consistent, almost always between 12 and 16 days. Within most individual women, this length of time generally doesn't change by more than a day or two. In other words, if there is going to be variation in the cycle, it is the first preovulatory phase that may vary. The second (postovulatory) phase generally remains constant.

Can you "feel" ovulation happen?

The most obvious outward sign of impending ovulation is increasing wet and slippery cervical fluid. In fact, it can be so abundant that women notice a string of cervical fluid literally hang down when they are using the toilet (Bon appetite, by the way). If a woman notices this, she should assume that ovulation is about to happen within a day or two. This is what is referred to as a primary fertility sign.

Some women are lucky enough to notice other signs on a regular basis, all of which are very helpful in being able to further understand their cycles. These signs are referred to as secondary fertility signs, because they do not necessarily occur in all women, or in every cycle in individual women. Yet they are still very practical for giving women additional information to identify their fertile and infertile phases.

Secondary signs as ovulation approaches may include:

    * Mid-cycle spotting
    * Pain or achiness near the ovaries and uterus (called "mittelschmerz")
    * Increased sexual feelings
    * Fuller vaginal lips
    * Abdominal bloating
    * Water retention
    * Increased energy level
    * Heightened sense of vision, smell and taste
    * Increased sensitivity in breasts and skin
    * Breast tenderness

Do women feel more sexual around ovulation?

Many women do. Because estrogen peaks around ovulation, women typically experience a wet, slippery sensation due to the fertile cervical fluid they produce. This cervical fluid feels similar to sexual lubrication, and can therefore be experienced as a sexual feeling. A woman who practices FAM needn't worry about confusing the two, because cervical fluid is checked periodically throughout the day, and not when she is sexually aroused.


Does ovulation occur when my cervical fluid is most abundant, or afterwards?

This is actually a very interesting question, because the answer is not intuitive. Every single woman has one day in her cycle that is more fertile than any other day, but that day is not usually the day she ovulates! How can that be? Generally speaking, your most fertile day is considered the last day that you produce fertile quality cervical fluid or have a wet vaginal sensation for any given cycle. It is called the "Peak Day," because it denotes your peak day of fertility. But this day usually occurs a day or two before you ovulate, or occasionally on the day of ovulation itself (Unfortunately, the only way to know precisely when you ovulate would be to have an ultrasound every month-not a very practical solution).

One of the obvious drawbacks of charting the Peak Day is that you will only be able to determine it in retrospect, on the following day. This is because you can only recognize it after your cervical fluid and vaginal sensation have already begun to dry up. This concept should become intuitive fairly quickly, though. Also be aware that the Peak Day is not necessarily the day of the greatest quantity of cervical fluid. In fact, the longest stretch or greatest amount could occur a day or two before your Peak Day.


Why does my ovulation kit indicate that I am ovulating, but my BBT doesn't have a rise at the same time?

This experience is completely normal and to be expected. The ovulation kits predict impending ovulation by detecting the surge of a hormone called, LH, or luteinizing hormone. This hormone is the very catalyst that thrusts the egg out of the ovary during ovulation. The temperature shift indicates that ovulation has already occurred. Once you ovulate, the leftover follicle (the corpus luteum) that encased the egg in the ovary starts producing progesterone, a heat-inducing hormone.

It is the progesterone that causes a thermal shift, or temperature rise in your body, usually a day or two after you ovulate. So in essence, you would expect to see about a two or three day delay from the LH surge to your thermal shift. The order is: LH, ovulation, and then thermal shift. But keep in mind that it is possible to have an LH surge, and still not actually ovulate. If this happens, you temperature will not rise to a sustained higher level.


How soon after childbirth will I start ovulating? Can I expect the same cycle as before?

Women who don't breastfeed find that their cycles resume very quickly - as early as 4-10 weeks after childbirth. But, if you meet the following 3 criteria, then your chances of ovulating are only about 2%:

    * Your menses have not returned.
    * You are fully or nearly fully breastfeeding.
    * Your baby is less than six months old.

If you wanted to have a safe and natural method of contraception during these first 6 months, you could use the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM), as described in TCOYF.