When Do You Ovulate? Ovulation Symptoms, Prediction Tools, and Timeline 25


Ovulation—it’s like the holy grail of conception. You can’t get pregnant if you can’t figure out if and when it happens to you, sort of. I mean, you can actually take a cheater’s approach and just have sex every other day or so around mid-cycle. That’s when ovulation occurs for most. So, you’d think all you have to do is take your cycle length and cut it in half. Bam—estimated ovulation date. The problem there is, while easier, this approach is sort of shooting in the dark—but with sperm—and while that can be fun it can make conceiving take a while, because not all women ovulate mid-cycle. In fact, some women don’t ovulate at all. So, if getting pregnant quickly is your aim, when do you ovulate should be your first question.when do you ovulate

What is ovulation?

Chances are if the Google Gods led you to this page, you have at least a fuzzy idea what ovulation is, but for clarifications sake, ovulation is the point during your menstrual cycle when your ovary drops a fertile egg. You can only become pregnant in those 24 to 48 hours or so after ovulation while that fertile egg is in your fallopian tube. If sperm isn’t present in that time frame, the egg is shed along with your uterine lining during your period.

When do you ovulate?

As mentioned above, most women ovulate around mid-cycle. Dividing your average cycle length by two is a fair way to get a rough estimate of when you ovulate. Example/ If you have a 26-cycle, you probably ovulate around cycle day (CD) 13 with day one being the first day of active bleeding during your menstrual cycle. You can narrow this down to an average for you personally (I, for example, run a 26-day cycle, but ovulate on CD 11) by tracking your ovulation symptoms, utilizing basal body temperature (BBT) tracking, and ovulation predictor kits (OPKs). When trying to pinpoint ovulation, I then recommend the following tools for your conception toolkit:

-A good BBT thermometer. A regular thermometer will not give an accurate temperature shift. BBT can be used to confirm ovulation, I’ll talk a bit more about that here in a moment. I also have a full, more in-depth guide on how to track BBT here.

-An easy to use tracking app. I use FertilityFriend, but there are many combination BBT, signs of ovulation, and period trackers out there. You can also keep track on paper, but most find an app more convenient. For beginners apps can also prove easier, because they often will estimate ovulation for you based on the data you enter.

-A supply of inexpensive ovulation predictor kits. OPKs can be used to predict ovulation shortly before it happens. We will also cover the how in just a moment.

Ovulation symptoms: What are the signs of ovulation?

To understand ovulation symptoms and when and why they happen, it’s best to have a rough understanding of the hormones that drive your menstrual cycle. It’s these hormones that are behind most signs of ovulation.

At the start of your cycle (the first day of bleeding) your sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) are both low. This signals the release of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). FSH is what prompts a follicle in your ovary to develop an egg. The development of this egg stimulates estrogen production which is the dominate hormone before ovulation in the follicular phase of your cycle. High estrogen then triggers Luteinizing Hormone (LH) to be produced. LH is the hormone that triggers ovulation. Ovulation stimulates the production of Progesterone, which dominates the second half of your cycle, the luteal phase. Progesterone maintains the uterine lining, and will drop if the released egg isn’t fertilized or continue to rise if it is.

Ovulation discharge:

Keeping the above cycle in mind, those hormones cause different cervical discharge changes. At the beginning of your cycle as estrogen is low, your discharge is probably non-existent to light, dry or sticky and acidic. This discharge is not very sperm friendly, but it does deter bacteria growth to protect your vagina from infection.

As estrogen begins to rise discharge becomes wetter, less acidic, and more plentiful (more fertile) finally reaching a stretchy, jelly-like consistency often described as “egg-white.” Egg-white discharge is a sign of ovulation.

when do you ovulate fertile cervical mucusFollowing ovulation as estrogen decreases and progesterone rises discharge often goes back to watery, followed by sticky or dry, and then bleeding if you don’t become pregnant. Some women also see an increase in discharge just before their period, and some women see watery discharge all cycle. It’s the stretchy mucus you’re watching for. On another note, thick yellow discharge at the end of your cycle can also sometimes be an early sign of pregnancy.

Cervical position and state:

Cervical position is a harder sign of ovulation to track. Your cervix actually moves up and down during the day, but if you check it at the same time every day, you may also notice a pattern within your cycle. Like your discharge, your cervix is affected by your hormones. During periods of low estrogen the cervix remains low, long, hard, and closed. You’ll probably be able to easily reach it, and it will feel sort of like the tip of your nose. As estrogen rises, the cervix does too, becoming shorter, softer, and opening slightly (note that those with previous children often always have a slightly open cervix). During ovulation your cervix will be hard to reach and feel more like your lips. Many women remember the signs of ovulation in regards to cervical position and state with the abbreviation SHOW: soft, high, open, wet (mucus).

when do you ovulate cervical position

OPKs:

Ovulation predictor kits are, like a pregnancy test, a stick that you urinate on. They detect LH which surges about 24 to 48 hours before ovulation. It’s important to note that unlike a pregnancy test, an ovulation test is only positive if the test line is darker than the control line. LH is present in your system outside of ovulation, so there will almost always be two lines. If you have trouble reading the cheaper line tests, there are more obvious (and expensive) smiley-face tests available. You don’t have to use these tests all cycle, just during your ovulation window. Until you narrow down your window more, I recommend starting at about CD 8. You can stop after ovulation. We also have a complete guide on using OPKs.

Ovulation pain:

Ovulation pain is not something everyone gets. In fact, only about 1 in 5 women experience pain at ovulation. Many describe ovulation pain as a twitching, pinching, or pressure in their lower pelvis closer to the right or left hip (this is where your ovaries are located). Ovulation usually occurs from just one side, and may not occur on the same side every month. If pain is felt on one side near your ovary near when ovulation should occur, you can consider it a sign that ovulation may be near or occurring caused by the growing follicle or the rupture of the follicle to release an egg.

However, keep in mind that cramping can often be mistaken for ovulation pain. As a general rule if it’s not lining up with other signs of ovulation or occurs on both sides, it probably is not ovulation pain.

Ovulating spotting:

Like ovulation pain, not all women experience ovulation spotting. Sometimes spotting is caused by the rupture of a follicle to release an egg. To put this in perspective, the average follicle is a mere 18 to 24 mm—or roughly the size of a grape. Ovulation spotting of this type is very, very light.

Alternately, some women also get a slight hormone dip at ovulation (progesterone usually) which can also cause light spotting. In those women, a temperature dip would also be visible on a BBT chart. This bleeding would still not be heavy or prolonged.

BBT:

You can read a full in-depth guide on tracking your BBT here, but briefly, your BBT is your temperature taken with a BBT thermometer upon first waking in the morning, before doing anything else. The rise of progesterone after ovulation will cause this temperature to rise slightly allowing you to confirm that ovulation has occurred and so build a more concrete average ovulation pattern. This rise is sometimes very small and a clear shift is hard to see. For other women it’s more pronounced and may even be visible using a regular thermometer.

Other signs of ovulation:

Finally, individual women may notice different signs of ovulation. Some women notice they crave certain foods or are more interested in sex. To pick up on signs like these you need to track ovulation for some time and really pay attention to your body. You’ll likely be more aware of post-ovulation symptoms as progesterone is the culprit behind PMS. Things like feeling hot, bloating, nausea, and back pain are all caused by progesterone which peaks after ovulation. This leads me to an important note. It is very, very, and a few more very’s common to mistake PMS symptoms for pregnancy symptoms. You will not get pregnancy symptoms before implantation. Period. You can explore the pregnancy symptoms timeline in more depth here as that is an entirely different topic.

We hope that our guide on when do you ovulate has proved helpful in your quest for belly fruit, and welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

You might also find useful:
Conception Lingo
When to Take a Pregnancy Test for Accurate Results
Am I pregnant? Calculating Your Chances of Pregnancy


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25 thoughts on “When Do You Ovulate? Ovulation Symptoms, Prediction Tools, and Timeline

  • Life with Gremlins admin

    If the app is accurate, no, sperm can only survive about 5 days, but if your cycle has been irregular maybe. Sorry, I know that’s not much help, but maybe is about as good as it gets until you can test.

    • Jenet Campbell

      yea I’m not sure cause I was using one app and it says the 14th and another app that I used said i ovulated the 8th so I’m confused because I was on a 27 day cycle so I’m not sure if I ovulated early as well its so confusing

      • Life with Gremlins admin

        The apps just use historical data, if all you’re feeding it is period start/stop dates, it’s a very rough estimate. It is just averaging your cycle length, then cutting it in half. With irregular cycles that will be very rough. Adding things like cervical mucus observations would help a lot. We have a full guide on pinpointing ovulation here.

  • Isabella

    Hi I’m not sure when my exact ovulating time is. I had sex yesterday night and my period was on the 10th. My periods typically come on the 10th of the month for the past 3-4 months. I think that’s about a 30-31 day cycle. My boyfriend and I had unprotected sex (idiotic idea but we planned on putting a condom on but he had already gone when we were about to grab one…) not all of it went in and he claims that he didn’t go until after he pulled out. I think he might’ve still gone in because I mean if he did he’d be afraid to believe it in that situation because well I’m 16 and he’d know if flip. Well this morning I took the plan b pill. Can you please tell me if I need to worry I’m already freaking out but I took the pill and I just am so scared still.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If the sex was mid-cycle, unfortunately plan B’s effectiveness is reduced as it can’t prevent ovulation if it has already occurred or the hormone-cycle that causes ovulation has already begun. What it will do is reduce the chance of implantation by thickening the uterine lining. I have not seen any stats on the effectiveness of plan B taken near or at ovulation. I can tell you in the one study done on the subject, a single act of unprotected sex poses about a 25% chance of pregnancy. So with plan B use, you’re somewhere below there. Hope that helps.

  • Kennedy

    So I had unprotected sex once with my ex Jan 22nd and I was a bit uncomfortable so I told him to stop, meaning he didn’t ejaculate. My fertility app said that I wouldn’t start ovulating until Jan 27th. Also on Jan 27th I hooked up with my usual sex partner and he did ejaculate in me and we did it again on Jan 29th. He ejaculated in my this Day as well. According to the app, the 29th was my most fertile day. I am now 18 wks pregnant, with my conception date being the 29th Of Jan. Do you think the dad would be my ex or the guy who actually ejaculated. It’s driving me crazy.

    • unwirklich admin

      The second partner. It’s not impossible to become pregnant from precum, but it’s not very likely to begin with, so when you add the 5 days prior to ovulation, it’s nearly guaranteed you didn’t become pregnant from the first act.

  • shiks

    hi..kindly assist my periods are irregular i had my last period in march 6 and they ended in 10.had sex on15 with a condom and 25march without a condom.and i tested am pregnant.am confused.how many weeks am i.thanks

    • unwirklich admin

      Unfortunately with irregular periods you’ll likely need an ultrasound to know. Irregular periods are caused by irregular ovulation, which means while with a regular cycle you probably would have ovulated around the 20th (assuming an average 28-day cycle), you could have ovulated at any time. My bet is the unprotected act though, proper condom use comes with around a 1 percent change of pregnancy and those with irregular cycles often ovulate late, not early, the 25th would have been day 19, just a little later than your average ovulation. So I would say conception was likely within 48 hours of the 25th putting you roughly just over 7 weeks (pregnancy is counted from cycle day 1 usually, so you would take the weeks since conception and add 2.)

  • Amy

    On March 18, a week after I ovulated, I had sex with my boyfriend and the condom broke. He doesn’t think that he ejaculated inside of me but, just in case, I took the morning after pill about 30 hours later. I got my expected period 2 days late but it lasted for the usual 7 days. I’ve been stressing because this has never happened to me before and it was my first time having sex with anyone and I’m nervous that I could actually be pregnant.

    • unwirklich admin

      An egg is only viable for about 24 hours after ovulation, so if you were a week after, it was long gone and there was no chance of pregnancy. The morning after pill is hormone-based and will often upset your cycle causing spotting or an early or late period. My guess is that’s why you were a bit late (though +/-3 days is actually in normal range).

  • Mary

    On February 18. My boyfriend and I had sec. and he came inside of me. I am not on the pill or anything. My “fertile window” startes February 21st – February 26 Saying actual ovulation day (which presents a flower on the app) is the 26. Is there a chance I can be pregnant ?

    • unwirklich admin

      If ovulation was unconfirmed, yes, ovulation often varies a few days (more so in teens or those approaching menopause). Semen has a lifespan of about 5 days in the body, so ovulation from the 18-23 would pose a chance of pregnancy (the closer to the 18th the higher the chance). By the 23rd that chance would be fairly low, and it sounds like your ovulation was probably past that, but it’s not impossible.

    • unwirklich admin

      Was ovulation confirmed? Occasionally a slight hormonal dip can cause some spotting at ovulation or a small cyst rupture (when an egg fails to release at ovulation it can form a cyst, but 2 days would be rather short for that sort of thing.)

  • Star

    So in general I had unprotected sex on January 1st, but it did not last long maybe a few seconds or a minute. So he did not finish like full on ejaculation. I think I was ovulating that day I had intercourse because my period was on December 17th. On that day of intercourse which was January 1st even through it did not last long I took the Take Action Emergency contraception after that situation because I am worried about precum. All though lately I have been having cramps, nausea, and back aches as well as frequent urination. And it’s only been 9 days since intercourse. Maybe I am mistaking these symptoms of pregnancy as something else like a kidney infection or UTI. Also I feel like maybe I am just over stressing and researching that my mind is playing games. Anyway sorry for the long question just waiting for my next period is nerve wrecking and just want to know if it’s way too soon for pregnancy symptoms? My period should be sometime next week but I heard that emergency contraception can mess up your cycle so I am confused as to whether if I am mistaken early pregnancy symptoms to PMS or something

    • unwirklich admin

      Implantation takes a minimum of 6 days, then its about another 2 days for enough hormone build for even a very sensitive test to be positive (so 8 days after intercourse), it takes even longer for levels to get high enough for symptoms. According to studies about 20 days at minimum. My guess is your symptoms are related to the emergency contraceptive (EC). EC is progesterone based which is the same hormone that peaks in pregnancy and causes most pregnancy symptoms, so annoyingly EC will cause pregnancy-like symptoms and yes, can delay or alter your period.

  • Anna

    I am trying to conceive but had a bump in the process. I have PCOS and I am currently taking Metformin 1000mg, almost three months now. I have been getting my periods regularly now but my cycle is 35/36 days long. I feel that I ovulate later than normal, day 20/21. Would you agree?

    • unwirklich admin

      With a longer cycle, yes, you’re probably ovulating late. If you aren’t already, using bbt to confirm ovulation could help you determine if that’s the case.

  • M

    Hi, I’m supposed to be ovulating tomorrow and the last 2 days i’ve had cloudy,very stretchy discharge and today I had dull cramp like aching in my left lower back and just the left pelvic area with a really small spot of blood when i wiped. it sounds like what u described as ovulation but being an athlete, ovulation kind of varies for me and sometimes i can’t tell if i’m ovulating or not. i just wanted ur opinion because i feel like it is but then again i’m unsure 🙂

    • unwirklich admin

      If you exercise a lot or have very low body fat, I would ignore any apps projections as far as ovulation, because you are correct in that your ovulation probably varies. I’d trust the signs instead or if you are TTC consider ovulation test strips and/or basal body temping.