Are you trying to get pregnant? If yes, then it’s time to know in detail about ovulation. Knowing about your ovulation days can help you to time sex with your partner and boost the odds of getting pregnant. This is because, the chances of conceiving are higher when you have sex during ovulation, which is considered as fertile days. So what is ovulation? How to calculate your fertile days? How to know if you have ovulated? What are ovulation predictor kits? To help you know more about ovulation and ovulation test kits, we asked Dr. Nupur Gupta, Gynaecologist, Delhi, to shed light on the topic. Here is what she has to say.
What is ovulation?
Ovulation is the phase of the menstrual cycle that causes the release of a mature egg. Every woman is born with many immature eggs. It is during the menstrual cycle that one of the eggs gets matured and is released by the ovaries, one at a time, every month. When the egg gets in contact with the sperm, it is fertilized.
What are fertile days?
When planning to get pregnant, it is important to track your ovulation period meticulously. This is because it can help you to know the most fertile days and help you to plan your pregnancy. Usually, an egg can survive a maximum of 24 hours after ovulation (it is released from the ovary). Hence, having sex during this time ups your chances of fertilization and conception. Usually, fertile days are around three days preceding ovulation and up to 2 days post ovulation. Hence, tracking your fertile period makes sense when trying to conceive.
How do you calculate your fertile days?
You might have heard that ovulation occurs on the 14th day of your menstrual cycle. However, it is not the same for every woman. Usually, a menstrual cycle lasts between 28 days to 32 days and ovulation can hit between 10th to 19th of the same cycle. Even in women with a regular cycle, there might be slight variations in the length of the cycle every month. Here is how to have a rough assessment of your fertile days.
– Firstly, note the number of days of your shortest and longest menstrual cycle.
– Secondly, subtract 18 from the number of days of your shortest cycle. For example, if your shortest cycle is 28, then subtract 18 from 28, which is 10.
– Thirdly, subtract 11 from the number of days of your longest cycle. For example, if your longest cycle is 34, then subtract 11 from 32, which is 19.
– Circle the days from 10th to 19th on your calendar as these are your most fertile days.
However, this method doesn’t give a clear idea about the days of ovulation. Moreover, it can be tricky to calculate the fertile days if your menses are irregular.
How to know you are ovulating?
There are numerous changes that occur in the body during ovulation, which can help you to predict your ovulation time. These include –
-Changes in the basal body temperature. It is seen that there is a slight dip in the body temperature before ovulation which is followed by a sharp increase in the temperature post ovulation.
-Changes in the cervical mucus. The cervical mucus becomes stretchy and clear as the body produces more of the hormone estrogen.
-Soreness of the breast. Due to a sudden rush of the hormones in the body, breasts and nipple turn sensitive and sore.
-Mild lower abdominal pain. When the egg is released by the ovary, there is a mild pain in the lower abdomen. Some women can feel the pain, which is known as Mittelschmerz. The pain can last for a few minutes or sometimes hours.
However, it is not easy to know about ovulation using these methods, especially if you have irregular menstrual periods. This is where ovulation predictor kits can help!
What are ovulation predictor kits (OPK)?
An ovulation predictor kit or an ovulation test helps you to detect the presence and concentration of the luteinizing hormone (LH) in the urine. The hormone is present all through the menstrual cycle but the concentration of the hormone increases during the ovulation phase. This is because it facilitates the release of the ovum (egg) from the ovary. Ovulation kits work on this principle to help you know the time of your ovulation and your fertile days.
There are numerous ovulation kits are available in the market. However, there are many queries that come up when it comes to using ovulation test kits. Here are some of the common ones answered.
When to take an ovulation test?
Ideally, it is advised to take the ovulation test during your fertile days. If you have a 28 days menstrual cycle, your fertile days will start from day 10th and continue for at least a week post that. If you have a 35 days cycle, then the fertile days will be from the 21st day of your menstrual cycle.
How to use an ovulation test kit?
There are different test kits available in the market and hence, the right way to use them might vary from kit to kit. Hence, read the instructions carefully on the product before use. In most cases, all you have to do is collect urine in a cup, hold the test strip in it and look for coloured bands.
What is the best time to take an ovulation test?
Ideally, the right time to take an ovulation test is in the afternoon as the LH is synthesized in the body in the morning and might appear in the urine by afternoon. But the most important thing to keep in mind is to take the test at the same time every day for accurate results.
How accurate are ovulation test kits?
Ovulation predictor kits are usually 97% effective in detecting the LH, which is the marker for ovulation. However, if you are on fertility drugs, then ovulation kits might not provide accurate results. So consult your doctor.
Can OPKs be used as a contraceptive?
Ovulation kits are designed to help detect ovulation and aid in conception. These kits are not recommended for use as a contraceptive.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)