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In women with healthy hormones, ovulation occurs about 14 days before your period is expected. This is usually on day 14 of a 28 day cycle. But how do you know when your ovulating when your cycle is irregular? Luckily for us, our bodies are great at giving us cues that we can use to help figure it out.

Positive Ovulation Predictor Kit

Perhaps the easiest way to determine when you’re ovulating is by using an Ovulation Predictor Kit. These kits use either the urine or saliva to detect changes in your body that only occur at the time of ovulation. The urine kits are detecting high levels of a hormone called Luteinizing Hormone (LH) which is secreted in order to release the egg. The saliva kits are used to look for a phenomenon known as “ferning” where the saliva creates a fern-like pattern due to increased levels of estrogen and salt in the body.

Increased Body Temperature

After ovulation, the ovary starts secreting a hormone called progesterone. This hormone causes a slight rise in the body temperature, usually by about 0.2°F. This temperature rise can be detected using basal body temperature charting. Interested in learning more? Check out this past blog on the Fertility Awareness Technique.

Breast Tenderness

Due to the change of hormones surrounding ovulation, some women will experience breast tenderness on the sides of the breasts. If your tenderness is more central or over the nipple, this can be a sign that ovulation did not occur and you are experiencing estrogen dominance. If the tenderness is both central and on the sides, this can be a sign that ovulation did occur but the progesterone levels are a bit low.


Mittelschmerz is a German word meaning “middle pain” that describes ovulation pains that are experienced by some women in the middle of the menstrual cycle. Ovulation pain is most commonly experienced as a one-sided lower abdominal pain that lasts for a few minutes to a few hours (but can last up to a couple days!). In most cases, the pain is mild and short lived but in certain women the pain can be quite severe and accompanied by spotting.

Changes in the Cervix

The easiest way to remember the four changes to the cervix that occur around ovulation is with the acronym SHOW, standing for Soft, High, Open and Wet. During your fertile days, the cervix will raise up, become soft (the consistency of your lips) and the os (the opening) will open to allow sperm to enter the uterus. At this point, you may be unable to feel your cervix because it is either too soft and blends in with the walls of the vagina or it is too high to reach.

Around ovulation, the cervix will also increase production of cervical mucus which leads to increased moisture. The mucus will also be a specific egg-white consistency and will stretch between your fingertips.

If you are trying to get pregnant and you are concerned that you are not ovulating, it is worthwhile talking to a reproductive specialist or a knowledgeable naturopathic physician on ways to increase your fertility and promote ovulation. There are numerous options to explore including pharmaceuticals, herbs and acupuncture.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Nicole Hartman

About Dr. Nicole Hartman

Dr. Nicole Hartman is a naturopathic physician, a world traveler, a hiker, and a blogger. She focuses her practice in digestion, women's health and weight loss and takes an integrative, evidence-based approach to healthcare.