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Determining Ovulation When Your Cycles are Irregular

Katlyn Joy | 2, November 2012


Often when you decide to start your family, you think it's as easy as not preventing pregnancy. But for many couples, conceiving requires effort. One of the first things to pinpoint is when the woman is actually most fertile, or when ovulation typically takes place during her monthly cycle.

Ovulation generally occurs mid-cycle so for a woman with 28 day cycles, around day 14 is usually the fertile zenith of the month. Ovulation means that the ovary has released an egg that is ripe and ready for fertilization. If that egg does not get fertilized and pregnancy doesn't occur, the egg and the thickened lining of the uterus are shed through the menstrual period.

The Challenges of an Irregular Cycle

If your cycles are not a uniform length and do not begin regularly you are considered to have irregular periods. It can be difficult for such women to know when their most fertile time is. For such women, the best way to achieve pregnancy is to know a regular time, such as day 16 for trying to get pregnant. This will not help a woman who has irregular periods. Instead, she must focus on the signs she experiences in the current month that tell her she is fertile.

Signs of Ovulation

Ovulation brings a number of symptoms or signs along with its appearance in the cycle. These include an increased slippery or wet, or egg white-like discharge, increased libido, possibly light spotting which may or may not be accompanied by a pain on one side that is brief in duration, a rise in temperature upon waking during mid-cycle that lasts a few days, and sensory changes such as sensitivity to tastes or smells.

Home Methods of Detecting Ovulation

One simple way to detect ovulation is to keep a careful charting of your basal body temperature. While this may sound technical, it couldn't be much simpler. Just using a regular digital thermometer, take your temperature upon waking each morning. Aim for taking it at the same time each day, and be certain not to drink anything or even get out of bed. Before you do anything else, take your temp and record it on a chart meant for the purpose of charting your cycle.

Usually women do this on a basic line graph where you can observe the gradual rise which will indicate ovulation. You will also record other information on the chart such as when you have intercourse, whether you were sick, and any activity which could impact your body temperature.

Another element of charting is making notes about your cervical mucus on your cycle chart. Note whether you have none, a slight or copious amounts of discharge and the color and consistency of the mucus. Examples would include white paste-like, clear and stringy, wetness, dry and tacky.

Around the time of your ovulation, mucus should be thin, plenteous and usually clear and with the texture of egg whites.

If you are around mid-cycle, you have mucus like this, and your temperature has risen you are likely experiencing ovulation. Many women will not ovulate each and every month, and some may only ovulate from one ovary so careful charting over at least a few months will yield the most reliable results.

Home Testing Kits

Another option is to purchase a home ovulation predictor kit. These kits measure the levels of luteinizing hormone or LH which surges around the time of ovulation and is present in the urine. To accurately pinpoint ovulation, test beginning at the earliest possible day for ovulation, which is about day 13 to day 15 in a 28 day cycle. For longer or shorter cycles, adjust accordingly.

These home test kits are fairly reliable, with an 80 percent chance of detecting ovulation within 5 days and a 95 percent chance within 10.

Other Tests

If you are experiencing difficulties pinpointing ovulation and have been trying to get pregnant without success for several months, then you may speak with your physician about doing other tests such as a transvaginal ultrasound to check on the follicular growth. A follicle that measures between 1.8 and 2.5 centimeters is a good indicator of ovulation.

You can also be given a blood test to measure progesterone which can determine ovulation. Progesterone blood tests are usually given about a week prior to mid-cycle.

Related Articles

Ovulation - Fact & Myth

Ovulation Predictor Kits

Charting Basics - Cervical Fluid

Charting Basics: Basal Body Temperature

Charting Basics - Cervical Position


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Esther Nov 18, 2016 01:57:12 PM ET

How do I know my fertile date. I started my period 20 October.and now in November I started it 13. i want to know when I wil be fertile. And how many lengthy days do I have.

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