How to Track or Calculate Ovulation (My Method!)

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If you’re wondering how to track or calculate ovulation, you’ve come to the right place–as someone who wasn’t sure if I was ovulating at all, I used these ovulation tracking methods to determine if I had an issue or not. My Pregnitude success post talks a little bit about the products I used to track my ovulation (and yay! I’m now pregnant!), but I thought a full post may be in order because the process can seem overwhelming at first (but I promise it’s not).

How to Track Ovulation: Step 1

The first thing I did to pinpoint my ovulation was to get a basal thermometer. It’s important to get a basal thermometer versus a normal one because it tracks your temp down to 1/10th of a degree, rather than the standard 2/10th of a degree. Taking your temperature each morning right when you wake up is the most-recommended way by most of the experts to see what your body is up to. Basically, right when you wake up (and ideally at the same time *every* day), you take your temp and record the results. I used the free app “Fertility Friend” to track ovulation and it’s available for both the iPhone and Android. It’s a detailed, free ovulation calendar that will show you when you ovulate! Each morning before doing anything–before taking a drink of water or even going to the bathroom–I plopped my basal thermometer into my mouth to get a read–I really recommend a digital basal thermometer because they are easy to use and give really accurate readings. I’d then record it in the app. In most women, your temperature will rise about .5 of a degree after ovulation. My baseline was always around a 97.7, give or take. Most times, after ovulation, it would rise to about 98.3 but could go even higher. The app is great because it will keep track of your temperatures each day, and will clearly tell you when you’ve ovulated.

When I wasn’t trying to conceive and was simply trying to pinpoint my ovulation, just using my basal thermometer worked well. I was able to determine my body was “working” (although, I was a very late ovulator and those late dates varied quite a bit, which is not ideal!) and get an idea of when I should expect my period. After you’ve ovulated, your period generally comes about 14 days later, so when you have wonky cycles like me, it’s nice to know when to expect Aunt Flow. So, while it worked well, a temperature rise tells you that ovulation already happened, which is too late if you’re trying for a baby. You’ll need a few other tools for that, read on.

How to Track or Calculate Ovulation: Step 2

Enter my favorite tool ever; you all have heard me talk about them before. I LOVE Wondfo OPKs! OPKs are ovulator predictor kits and are used much like typical pregnancy tests. You pee in a cup, dip a little strip, and it will tell you if you are about to ovulate. Yes, they tell you that you are likely to ovulate within 24-48 hours (and then you confirm with your temperature tracking to find out if you did!). How cool is that? Because PCOS made my cycles so dang screwy, I would typically start using the OPKs on about cycle day 12 when TTC. I’ve read that it’s best to test with OPKs in the late afternoon, so I would test after work. Sometimes, if I felt that I was getting close, I would test twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. Unlike pregnancy tests, with OPKs, you will most always have a test line appear with the control line. What you want to see is the test line be as dark as or darker than the control line. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out if it’s positive because it will look *almost* as dark as the control. For me, it was glaringly obvious when the test was positive:

wondfo opk positive

You can actually see how the left-most portion of the test line is slightly darker than the rest of the line. It always appeared like that for me when ovulation was approaching. In my early days of using these tests, to verify their accuracy, I would often also use a Clearblue Easy OPK (the ones with the easy-to-read Smiley faces) right after the cheapy strip using the same urine. These also work fairly well, but they can be kind of tricky to use. I’d often get errors with them (therefore, wasting an expensive test), unfortunately. But, it was nice to have the verification that the cheap tests work just as well. Actually, in my opinion, the cheapies may work better to calculate ovulation; I think they are more sensitive. That, plus the fact that they are incredibly cheap make these the winner for me.

So, those are my two fool-proof ways for tracking or calculating ovulation. In short, the OPKs tell you you are about to ovulate, and the basal thermometer tells you that you already have. These two tools are really all you need, however, if you are *really* into this, read on.

How to Track or Calculate Ovulation: Step 3

One little tool that is kinda cool (but not necessary) is an ovulation microscope. For all of you that like a little science, this is pretty neat. After taking my temp in the a.m., I would swipe a little bit of saliva on the lens of this microscope and let it dry. It takes about five minutes. Then, you view your results through the microscope. If you see a “ferning” pattern, that means ovulation is on its way!

what does ferning look like

The hard thing about this is that it’s hard to know when you really see ferning. Sometimes you just see spit bubbles, and other times you see branches that are stick-straight. What you are looking for are ferns that bunch together and curve into themselves. Sounds weird, huh? A lot of people like these saliva tests because they are reusable–for about $30, you can predict your ovulation for years to come. What I’ve found is that some months I wasn’t able to determine via this test I was about to ovulate. I would get close to ferning, but not quite.

Is an ovulation microscope/saliva test worth it?

Are you the type of person when you think you are pregnant will go out and buy six different tests to check? Ummm, aren’t we all? If so, you might really enjoy the microscope. Combined with the app, OPK tests and the temping, it just adds another piece to the puzzle that confirms your ovulation pattern; it’s great (and fun!) peace of mind.

Oh, and if you’re wondering how to take a picture of your saliva test–the pic above is just aiming my phone through the viewer. Cool, huh?

Are There Other Ways to Calculate Ovulation?

Sure are–the above is just my method. There are other things you can do, like analyze your cervical mucous (CM) or feel your cervix to determine it, as well. But, these are what worked for me–I hope these tips and trick work for you, too!

6 thoughts on “How to Track or Calculate Ovulation (My Method!)”

  1. I’m so glad I’ve come across your story 7 yrs ttc 1 failed IUI AND heading for ivf in 2 months so I’m gonna start my pregnitude tom and straight up until ivf wish me luck

  2. Hi Lauren,

    I also struggle with PCOS but am not quite as far into the journey as you. I appreciate the detail you add to your posts about predicting ovulation and the process of doing that. It is so helpful to me as I am starting to try and track all of this. You have a great voice in your writing and express yourself well.

    Have you ever stumbled upon or heard of pcosdiva.com? The lady who runs it is a PCOS health coach and focuses on managing PCOS naturally – with lifestyle changes. From your posts, it sounds like you would really enjoy the website seeing as you’ve already taken initiative to change up your diet and such. Also, she has some posts about hair loss that may be encouraging or helpful to you. She would probably also love to hear your journey with hair loss and get your recommendations on various products.

    She offers brief classes that help you reframe your thoughts and how you deal with PCOS and I found her to be quite encouraging, especially in her thoughts on how to think about yourself. I’d encourage you to check out the website.

    As a final note, I just started Pregnitude yesterday. I am combining it with another similar supplement called Ovaboost. I will take Pregnitude in the morning and Ovaboost at night. I am hoping to ovulate for the first time in years. Your story has been encouraging to me. Keep doing what you’re doing and congrats on your two little boys.

    • I have heard of her! If I recall correctly, she has a lovely Follea wig (or is it a topper?). I should check out her site, again, especially as my body is slowly normalizing after having this last baby (since PCOS is my “normal”, normal isn’t necessarily good!). Good luck with TTC – I hope combining the supplements gives you some speedy results. 🙂

  3. I’m really glad I stumbled upon your website. I am also plagued with female hair loss. It been apparent to me for about 4 years. As I approach my 29th birthday, it frustrates me how much this affects me emotionally and mentally. I have begun to get a little anxious taking showers because of the amount of started to shed recently. I don’t want to sound like debbie downer, as a I have many things to be grateful for, but I sometimes can’t help myself be envious of the girl who can just put her hair in a ponytail and not have to think twice about it, or make sure that my scalp is covered when doing my hair each morning. This isn’t something I even thought would be an issue for me, but it just seems to be getting worse. I actually just bought ovulation strips at, I am currently ovulating, sorry TMI. But, the thought of pregnancy scares me because of my hair loss, the thought of swimming concerns me because of my hair loss. I feel like something I never thought twice about is the first thing I think about. Does this make sense?

    • I totally get what you are saying – it’s amazing how the seemingly little things are impacted by hair loss! I think the same way. I, too, am envious of wash-and-go hair (which I’ve never had) or being able to swim. Or anything else for that matter. You aren’t alone! Although I look at my son and he is soooo worth it, hair loss and all!

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