How To Tell When You’re Most Fertile
“In general, I would say the apps can be pretty good, but remember that they’re just guiding you,” Dr. Levine says. If the app says you’re fertile for a couple days mid-cycle, assume you may be ovulating for a few days before and after too, to allow for some variation, he suggests.
But Nataki Douglas, MD, PhD, Chair of the Modern Fertility Advisory Board, says that both of these methods are less than 30% accurate. “Basal body temperature rises after you have ovulated, so this is not helpful to measure if you are trying to predict ovulation,” she notes.
To more accurately target your fertile window, she suggests using ovulation predictor kits that detect luteinising hormones (LH), an indicator of fertility. “LH is the hormone that peaks just before ovulation, about 24 to 28 hours before an egg is released from the ovary,” Dr. Douglas says. OPKs are inexpensive, fairly accurate, and as simple to use as peeing on a stick.
But, “These kits are most reliable for women with regular, monthly menstrual cycles,” she notes. If you have irregular cycles, you may want to see a doctor to figure out why, since this can be an indicator of an underlying health issue. “The doctor can measure estradiol, [a form of the hormone estrogen], and LH levels in your blood” to determine when you’re ovulating, Dr. Douglas explains. They also might do a trans-vaginal ultrasounds to track when the ovary that is going to release the egg, she says.
Discharge And Breast Tenderness
Paying attention to your body can also give you a clue about when you’re ovulating. For example, your cervical discharge might look like white, light mucus, Dr. Levine says. Other giveaways include breast tenderness and maybe even a heightened sense of smell. “Increased sexual desire is a sign, too,” Dr. Douglas says. This happens because of peaking levels of estradiol. These symptoms may not be as reliable as a tracker or urine test, though.
For most people, the best way to pinpoint your fertile window is likely a combination of tracking your menstrual cycles, using ovulation predictor kits, and keeping tabs on physical changes, Dr. Douglas says.
Of course, if you want to avoid getting pregnant and are sexually active, the smartest practice is to use contraceptive 100% of the time. And if you’d like to conceive, hopefully you’ll be swapping your fertility app for a pregnancy app in no time.