Although many women are unaware of the signs of ovulation, ovulation symptoms can be recognized, detected and used to a couples’ advantage to induce a higher chance of pregnancy by having sexual intercourse on peak fertile days. About 20% of women have a condition called Mittelschmerz (German for “middle pain”) and experience pain in one side of the lower abdomen during ovulation. While this is one of the more obvious symptoms of ovulation, there are more subtle signs of ovulation, such as breast tenderness or soreness, excess vaginal discharge, spotting, and an increased sex drive, which women can look for to determine the best days on which they are likely to conceive.
During ovulation, the mucus of the cervix increases and becomes thinner, creating a vaginal discharge that is usually either clear or creamy white. This change in the mucus facilitates conception and makes the vaginal walls slippery. There is also a softening of the cervix and during ovulation the cervix is positioned higher in the vaginal vault. These signs of ovulation may be subtle, but they are detectable if a woman is attentive, especially because excess vaginal discharge is among the most telling of ovulation symptoms.
Increased Sex Drive and Sore Breasts
During ovulation, there are changes in hormone levels which may increase a woman’s desire for sexual intercourse. While this symptom is not present in all women, it is one of the more common signs of ovulation. Some women also experience tenderness of the breasts or nipples, particularly around the areola. This can be felt through increased sensitivity or as mild pain. Increased sex drive and/or breast sensitivity more than 7 days after the first day of the last menstrual period are probably signs of ovulation.
Cramping and Spotting
While not common, some women experience cramping and spotting in the middle of their menstrual cycle which is one of the signs of ovulation. This is more common in women that have Mittelschmerz. Mittelschmerz usually lasts from 6 to 24 hours, but cramping and spotting may last as long as 48 hours. The cramps are typically less severe than those experienced during menstruation. Severe cramping or bleeding in the middle of the cycle should be reported to a doctor.
Nausea and Dizziness
Nausea and dizziness are not normal signs of ovulation and may indicate the presence of ovarian cysts. As a rule, ovarian cysts are benign and, if treated promptly, pose no threat to a woman’s reproductive health. Severe abdominal pain during ovulation may be a symptom of endometriosis and women should have a medical exam to rule out this condition because it can affect fertility. Nausea and dizziness may be early symptoms of pregnancy.
Body Basal Temperature
One of the oldest and most reliable methods of determining when ovulation occurs is the body basal temperature. During the first phase of ovulation the body basal temperature remains fairly constant, but in the days just before ovulation the temperature drops slightly. When ovulation occurs, there is a sharp spike in body basal temperature. The sharp rise in body basal temperature is one of the most reliable signs of ovulation.
Signs of Ovulation
In most women, the signs of ovulation go unnoticed but can be detected if a woman knows what ovulation symptoms to look for. Following ovulation, the ovum is only viable for between 12 and 24 hours so the time for fertilization is very limited. Knowing how to spot the signs of ovulation can help women determine the days on which they are most likely to become pregnant.