Mother and Baby

5 signs you're ovulating to understand when you're most fertile

Section: Skin & Hair

Trying to figure out when you're ovulating can be difficult and an ovulation calculator can really help you figure out when you're ovulating.

But when you're trying for a baby it's important to know your body and knowing the signs and symptoms of when you're ovulating can make a huge difference when it comes to trying to conceive. 

So, why is it important to know when you're ovulating? There are many reasons why, with one being if you feel those first signs of ovulation, it's recommended to have sex with your partner, as a males sperm can live up to 7 days, so having sex before ovulation can increase your chances of conceiving

Remember, it's also important not to get too focussed on trying to conceive and just enjoy the time with your partner, as less stress will help to increase your chances of getting pregnant! 

What is ovulation?

Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovaries and often happens around day 14 of a 28-day cycle. It's recommended to count backwards 14 days of when your period is due. There are a lot of ways to increase your chances of conceiving, but around the time of ovulation is the best time to try for a baby

When the egg is released, it travels through the fallopian tubes and into the uterus, but it only survives for 12-24 hours. To become pregnant, the egg will need to be fertilised by a sperm cell. Sperm can live up to 7-days in a woman's body, so having sex before you begin ovulating is often recommended. 

What are the signs of ovulation?

It's important to know the signs of when your body is ready to conceive as knowing about your body and noticing the different signs will increase your chances of being able to conceive. 

  • Cervical mucus: You've probably not paid much attention to your vaginal discharge on a month-to-month basis, but it's important to check it as you could be trying to conceive when your body is least ready. "In the run-up to ovulation, cervical fluid increases in volume and fertile qualities. It may resemble thin hand lotion or become clear and slippery - like raw egg whites - and this is a strong indicator that your body is gearing up for ovulation, so take advantage of it!" says Maisie Hill, author of Period Power. 
  • Feeling sore: When your body is starting to ovulate, your breasts might become tender and your nipples might be sore. You might even get pain in your lower abdomen - mittelschmerz - which happens to 1 in 5 women and is completely normal. These pains are often a result of increased hormone levels.
  • Increased sex drive: If you suddenly find yourself feeling more loving and affectionate towards your partner, it could be your body's way of telling you it's time to head to the bedroom. When ovulating, a woman's sex drive peaks which helps in the baby-making process. 

Symptoms of ovulation

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1) Breast or nipple tenderness

Due to increased levels of hormones, most women experience breast and nipple tenderness in the days leading up to ovulation and often during as well. If you start to notice that your breasts feel a bit sore, then it could be a sign that you will soon be ovulating, just be sure to monitor the pain. 
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2) Light spotting or discharge

At the time of ovulation, some women will experience a small amount of spotting or discharge. Estrogen levels increase which causes changes to the consistency of your cevical mucus, this discharge is often a sign that your body is getting ready to ovulate.

It's very important to notice the changes in discharge as it can go from being cloudy or non-existent after your period to clear and slippery. The most ferticle cervical mucus will resemble raw egg whites, and this watery mucus helps sperm swim through the cervix easier, which increases your chances of conceiving. 
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3) Pelvic pain

1 in 5 women will experience pelvic pain during the time of ovulation. However, it is not always a reliable sign that you are definitely ovulating so it's important to notice other signs that your body is showing you. 
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4) Increased labido

The baby making process is definitely key to conceiving, but you might not always be in the mood for a quick (or long) trip to the bedroom. When ovulating, most women will experience a higher labido and regular sex increases your chances of conceiving. Try to stop focussing on making a baby, too, and enjoy the fun part of it!
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5) Changes in body temperature

Taking your body temperature can give you a good idea as to when you're ovulating, as your body temperature increases slightly. This isn't a recommended way of charting ovulation, but it gives you an idea of when you are most fertile. 
When your body temperature has been higher for 3 days, it means that your body has already ovulated. Checking your temperature frequently over several months is a good way for you to build a pattern so that it will be easier for your to predict when you're most fertile.

"Other signs of ovulation include an increase in sexual desire thanks to oestrogen and testosterone peaking, feeling ovulation pain (mittelschmerz), and a positive on an ovulation predictor kit (OPK)," explains Maisie. 

"OPKs detect a surge in a hormone called luteinising hormone (LH), though this method shouldn’t be relied on as a way of timing sex as it’s easy to miss the surge and by the time LH is peaking, a significant amount of your fertile window will have already passed." 

How long does ovulation last? 

Ovulation is different for each woman and their cycle, as some women have a 28 days cycle while others have a 36 day cycle. Usually, ovulation is one day but you're are fertile up to 5 days before you start ovulating and on the day of ovulation, too. You're most fertile during the two days before ovulation and you have a better chance of conceiving on those two days.

For women with irregular periods or little time for regular sex, ovulation calculators and ovulation predictor kits are incredibly helpful.

Try our ovulation calculator!

Meet the expert: Maisie Hill is highly qualified and sought-after women’s health expert with over a decade of experience as a practitioner and birth doula. She is the author of best-selling novel Period Power. 

Now read: 

4 clever fertility apps to download if you're trying to conceive

6 reasons why you might be struggling to conceive

11 trying to conceive tips the experts want you to know

Top tips for getting pregnant without the stress of charts

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  • Author: Samantha Ball Samantha Ball
  • Job Title: Freelance writer

Samantha is a mum of one, in a house full of boys. Her hobbies are long hikes, coffee tasting, and being a bit of an *obsessive* cleaner.

She also runs a blog Student Mum Diaries about what it’s like to be a student mum. 


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