Chart Your Basal Body Temperature
Another way to determine when you ovulate is by charting your basal body temperature (BBT). To do so, you’ll need to buy a basal thermometer, which shows tenths of degrees. You’ll need to take your temperature every morning immediately upon waking—before even getting out of bed to pee. Your temperature usually drops subtly the day you ovulate; then it rises the following day and stays elevated until you get your period (or throughout your pregnancy, should you conceive that month). Print and use the chart below.
Charting your BBT likely won’t be very helpful that first month, as you’ll only know after the fact that you have ovulated (courtesy of that temperature spike)—but charting your BBT for a few months in a row can help you determine patterns in your menstrual cycle and better predict when you will ovulate the next time around (and therefore when you and your partner should be getting busy). But, basal body temperature can be thrown off by a number of factors, including illness. And if you don’t remember to do it first thing, it won’t be accurate.
Additionally, charting your BBT can help to confirm that any fertilized eggs would have time to implant. If your luteal phase (the time between ovulation and your next period, during which your BBT should be slightly elevated) is shorter than 11 days, that may mean that any potential pregnancy could have difficulty “sticking,” explains Ringland Murray, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist in Chattanooga, TN.
Although your basal thermometer may come with a chart, you can download additional ones from womenshealth.gov.
Monitor Your Cervical Mucus
There’s an even more up-close-and-personal approach to learning about your reproductive health courtesy of your vaginal secretions, and it won’t cost you anything more than a minute of your time. However, this method’s not for those squeamish about bodily fluids.
Following your period, you likely won’t have much in the way of vaginal discharge for several days. Then, a sticky, cloudy-looking mucus will likely appear before it changes to clear and slippery, similar to the consistency of egg whites, a few days before ovulation; you should be able to stretch it apart a couple of inches between your thumb and index or middle finger. The last day of that egg-white consistency is likely your most fertile day. While some women have enough mucus to just look at it on toilet paper, others will need to insert a clean finger or two into their vagina, reaching upward toward the cervix.
Just know that some drugs like antihistamines can dry up mucus, and other factors like breastfeeding may impact it as well, so monitoring your cervical mucus may be most useful when done in conjunction with other things like charting your BBT or using an ovulation predictor kit.