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What is ovulation?

This is when an egg is released from one of your ovaries. Sometimes more than one egg is released and this tends to happen within 24 hours of the first egg. While the egg is released the lining of your womb (uterus) begins to thicken and the mucus in your cervix thins. This allows the sperm to swim through your cervix easily as they make their way to the egg.

The egg lives for 12-24 hours after it is released, if it is not fertilised by a sperm it leaves the body along with the lining of your womb, this is a woman’s period.

How can I tell if I'm ovulating?

If you have a regular menstrual cycle you will also be able to work out when you're ovulating, as ovulation tends to place around 10-16 days before your period starts. Your body will also indicate when you are ovulating and you may notice a few tell-tale signs.

Signs of ovulation can include:

  • A change in your cervix mucus – this can appear wetter, clear and more slippery than normal
  • Body temperature rises – you can use a thermometer to deter the small rise in body temperature that occurs after ovulation
  • Hormones in your urine – you can use an ovulation test to detect the increased levels of hormones in your urine

What does it look like when you're ovulating?

Many women experience slight noticeable symptoms when they are ovulating, however these are not a reliable way of predicting when you're ovulating.

You may notice:

  • Your breasts are tender
  • Bloating
  • Mild pain in your abdomen
  • Your cervical mucus will be clear and slippery than usual, you may notice this when you wipe after going to the toilet or you can insert a clean finger into your cervix

Is there a test for ovulation?

You can use an ovulation test to track when you’re ovulating. An ovulation kit will be able to tell you when your best days to get pregnant are. The majority of ovulation tests only give you a window of two days, but some can give you a longer window which may help you to get pregnant.

The ovulation test will include ovulation sticks also known as ovulation test strips. These track the fertility hormones released by the body when you’re ovulating. The ovulation test will then tell you when your peak fertility days are. A positive ovulation test indicates these fertile days and if you have sex on these days, you’re more likely to get pregnant. 

How do you track when you're ovulating?

You can track your menstrual cycle using a diary, calendar, app or ovulation predictor, this way you will be able to predict when your period is due and then when your window of fertility is. Ovulation takes place 10-16 days before you period starts, so if you know the date your period is due to start you can count the days backwards to find out when you will be ovulating.

You can also use an ovulation test to track when you’re ovulating. These will be able to tell you when your best days to get pregnant are. The majority only give you a window of two days but some can give you a longer window which may help you to get pregnant.

How do I calculate my ovulation day?

The day you ovulate tends to be 14 days after the first day of your period, if your cycle is the average length of 28 days. However this day may differ if your cycle is a different length. You can use an ovulation calculator to find out your ovulation date. You will need to know the date of the first day of your period as well as how long your menstrual cycle is.

How will I know if I'm pregnant?

If you have a regular menstrual cycle, the first sign that you might be pregnant is a missed period. However you could also notice that is a lot lighter compared to normal. If you have missed a period you can purchase a pregnancy test visit your GP or your local sexual health clinic.

How many days after your period are you most fertile?

If your cycle coincides with the average and is 28 days in length you will be ovulating on day 14, although this could also be a day or two earlier or later depending on your cycle. Depending on your menstrual cycle you will ovulate around 10-16 days before your next period.

Why is my period late?

Any variations in your menstrual cycle are normal, and there are lots of reasons for why your period is late, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are pregnant. To find out more about the lifestyle and other factors that can affect your period visit our late period page.