Approximately 20 percent of infertile couples struggle to conceive due to ovulation disorders, so it is important for a woman to be able to identify whether or not she is ovulating. There are several methods a woman can use to monitor for ovulation, but some methods are more reliable than others.
Here are some of the most commonly used methods of tracking ovulation:
- Keeping track of your menstrual history – It is important for a woman to keep a calendar of her menstrual periods because this can help her understand her cycles and when she might be ovulating. Having irregular, unpredictable, or infrequent cycles are signs that a woman might not be ovulating regularly. If the flow characteristics vary significantly from cycle to cycle, this can also be a sign of irregular ovulation.
- Ovulation prediction kits – These kits can be purchased over-the-counter from most pharmacies and are typically easy to use. These tests detect the surge of LH hormone in a woman’s urine, which occurs just prior to ovulation. This is a good method to test for ovulation, but women should be aware that occasionally the tests can give false positive or false negative results.
- Progesterone test – A blood test for a serum progesterone level is the most accurate way to determine if ovulation occurred as long as the blood test is accurately timed. The test should be performed 1 week before the next expected period. Progesterone levels are often tested on cycle day 21, but this is not necessarily the best timing for every woman. This would be accurate for a woman with a 28-day cycle length. For women with longer cycles, such as 35 days, test on cycle day 21 is likely too early.
- Basal body temperature – This is a low cost method for ovulation monitoring, but it can be tedious over time. Temperature should be taken each morning upon awakening and before getting out of bed. A sustained rise in temperature starting mid-cycle indicates that ovulation occurred. For some women, detecting this rise can be difficult.
If you are struggling to conceive, monitoring for ovulation is one of the first you can do to try to figure out what is going on. If you find that you might not be ovulating regularly, you should see your physician to determine if there is a cause for this. Depending on what they find, there are usually simple treatments available to help you ovulate regularly and increase your chances of conceiving.