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The big O Prenatal Care

The big O

Whether you’re trying to conceive or quite the opposite, knowing when you ovulate can help.

“Ovulation is best determined by counting backward after a period begins,” explains Mary Jo Podgurski, RNC, EdD, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and past president of the Lamaze International Board of Directors. “Typically a woman will ovulate 12-15 days before her next menstrual period.”

Want additional evidence that a mature egg, or ovum, has been released into the Fallopian tube? Start paying extra close attention to these telltale clues.

woman-temperatureFeel the heat
“[Your] basal body temperature (BBT) will be lower in the first part of [your] menstrual cycle, reach its lowest point before ovulation and then immediately rise about half a degree when ovulation occurs,” says Podgurski. “Charting your BBT over a few months may help you see a pattern to your menstrual cycles and predict ovulation.” For the most accurate reading, use a quality digital oral thermometer and follow Podgurski’s tips:

  • Take your reading at the same time daily.
  • Clock at least three to eight hours of sleep beforehand.
  • Do it first thing—before getting out of bed, eating or drinking.
  • Think of it as a science project, and keep clear, accurate records.

Be hands on
“Women should be looking for changes in their cervix, the neck-like passage between a woman’s vagina and uterus,” says Podgurski. You will notice the cervix feels harder and closed at the beginning of your cycle. “As ovulation approaches the cervix pulls back, softens and opens a little.” Check your cervix daily using a finger, and chart the changes you observe.

Don’t discharge the evidence
Depending upon what’s going on inside you, what’s coming out of you will vary. “After a period is over, a woman will notice very little discharge. As the cycle goes forward, the mucus will change in amount and appearance, increasing and looking white or cloudy,” Podgurski says. “At ovulation, it’s thinner, clearer and slippery like an egg white. After ovulation, the discharge may be thicker or the mucus may once more be dry.”

Get a second opinion
If you’d like a little help, consider purchasing an ovulation predictor kit, which works by detecting luteinizing hormone (LH). “Right before a woman ovulates her body releases a ‘surge’ of LH in a sudden, dramatic and brief rise of the hormone,” says Podgurski. “Unlike BBT, which tells a woman when she ovulates over time and allows her to predict ovulation in the future, an ovulation predictor kit will react to a two to five times increase in LH in the days immediately before ovulation.” Worth noting: Ovulation kits do not reveal the state of the cervix or whether cervical mucus is conducive for fertil- ization, so Podgurski suggests using them conjunction with BBT and cervical checks.

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