Can you really just have sex on a whim and get pregnant? While yes, scientifically, that is how this all works, unfortunately it is not that easy. If you and your partner are in the midst of trying to conceive (TTC) you may be curious how you know when it is the right time of the month to be most successful in getting pregnant. You’re not alone, many women are doing the same and looking for ways to track their ovulation and increase their chances of getting pregnant each month. 

I was also one of those women. After many months of negative pregnancy tests, followed by crushing miscarriages, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. The “wait and see” method just wasn’t working anymore. My husband and I aren’t one of those couples who get pregnant just by chance the first month we try – and that’s okay, but I wanted to start tracking my ovulation. 

There are a few different ways you can track your ovulation too. To start, there are ways you can track your ovulation naturally, by listening to your body, some of which include the following:

  • Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Check: Your basal body temperature (temperature first thing in the morning) increases after ovulation has occurred. If you closely monitor your temperature each morning, you will be able to detect a change, which can indicate when to expect your body to ovulate. 
  • Cervical Mucus Changes: The cervical mucus that your body secretes actually can be a good indicator of when your body is ovulating. If you start to notice the mucus being wet and watery, ovulation is close, generally if the mucus is wet but stretchy, ovulation has occurred. 
  • Pelvic Pain: Some women experience pain in the pelvic and lower abdominal area when their body is ovulating. This particular method may not be the best choice on its own, but it is a good symptom to look for when using some other methods to track your ovulation.

I would check my BBT or pay closer attention to cervical mucus a little bit while I was TTC, but I found myself looking for something more concrete. I needed something that would just tell me when I was ovulating.

Ovulation Test Strips

Just as you would a pregnancy test, you test your urine to determine when your body is ovulating. I took a few tests each day, taped them into a small notebook with labels and watched the progression (if any) of the test line. The way these tests work, you will always see two lines – the control and the test line. If you are ovulating, the test line will be darker than the control line, and that would give your body the highest chance of conceiving.

These ovulation strips are time consuming in the sense that you really do need to test multiple times to see if the test line is getting darker, which indicates a fertile window, or not. I sometimes found these ovulation test strips difficult to read – I was needing to look so closely at the test, hold it up to the light, ask my husband for a second opinion, only to take my best guess at when the test line was darker than the control.

There are digital ovulation tests on the market (like Clearblue Advanced Digital Ovulation Tests) but they are more expensive for a lesser number of tests. The digital tests are nice though, because you get a direct answer of whether or not you are fertile, and you don’t need to look too closely at any small pink lines.

There are even options on the market, like the Modern Fertility Ovulation Kit, where you can test on a small strip, but then log it into their app, for some digital assistance in determining how dark the test lines are. I like this ovulation kit too, because you have access to their Modern Fertility community, where other women are TTC and looking for support.

Calendar Method

There were months I used ovulation test strips almost daily, but there were also months where I looked at the calendar and dates of my periods to help determine that fertile window. On average, one menstrual cycle lasts somewhere between 21 and 35 days. This is the amount of time from the first day of your period one month, to the first day of your period the following month. The most fertile time for a woman is around 14 days after the start of their period, this is typically when ovulation occurs.

So, once I had a grasp on my average menstrual cycle, I was able to use the calendar to determine my own fertile window. I paired this method with the ovulation test strips to really help me zone in on when my body was ovulating.  This method alone might not be the most successful, and it is all based around “average” and “typical” – and we know every woman and their body is so unique. If you have an idea of around what week you should be ovulating, start paying closer attention to things like your BBT or cervical mucus.

Let Apps Help You Track

Sometimes the days start blending together, I get it, and all of a sudden you are wondering if this is day 4 or 5 of your period. To save you some of that headache, consider taking advantage of the many apps available, for this exact purpose. There are cycle tracking apps that allow you to not only track your period, but customize the experience as a whole.

I have used apps like Flo, Period Tracker and Ovia when tracking my period, and all also give you a projected fertile window based on those “averages” and “typical” numbers we were talking about. Apps like Ovia then have an Ovia Pregnancy app, to easily transition to tracking your pregnancy when the time comes. You can take a look at this blog – 4 Cycle Tracking Apps That Do The Work For You, to learn about a few specific apps out there, or you can do a quick search in the App Store to find even more options.

It seemed in all of those sex education classes back in high school, the lesson was that if you had sex you absolutely would get pregnant. Here in the real world though, we know that isn’t the case. In fact, the majority of women do not get pregnant the first time they try.

Sometimes (most of the time) it takes more than just luck, and you need to do some leg work to find the most fertile time of the month. The entire TTC journey can be tiring, everything starts turning into work. I hope you find a method to track your ovulation that works for you, while still finding a way to enjoy the process. Sending baby dust your way and much success in your ovulation tracking journey!

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