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There are a number of techniques which can be used to predict ovulation, the stage of a woman's menstrual cycle in which an egg is released from an ovary to make its way down the fallopian tube. When a woman ovulates, she is at the most fertile stage of her menstrual cycle. Women want to know when they ovulate for a variety of reasons, most of which center around family planning. Some women track their ovulation for the purpose of avoiding pregnancy, although this method of birth control can be unreliable, and others track their ovulation for the opposite reason.
Women who want to know when they ovulate usually start by tracking their menstrual cycles. Although an average cycle lasts for 28 days, women can have cycles of varying lengths. The more regular the cycle is, the easier it will be for a woman to determine when she is going to ovulate. It's a good idea to track the menstrual cycle for several months. Ovulation usually occurs around 12-16 days before a woman starts her period.
Another tracking method involves the basal body temperature (BBT). Women experience minor temperature spikes during ovulation which can be monitored with a BBT thermometer. Ideally, the temperature reading should be taken when a woman wakes up, at the same time every morning, and logged in a temperature chart. Over the course of several weeks, a temperature pattern may emerge, and a woman can use it to see when she is going to ovulate.
Monitoring cervical mucus is another technique which can be used to determine when a woman is ovulating. During ovulation, the cervical mucus becomes slippery, stretchy, and clear. Monitoring BBT and cervical mucus on a chart will help a woman become familiar with the stages in her menstrual cycle. Women may also want to note abdominal pain or breast tenderness on the same chart, as these can be symptoms of ovulation as well.
Women who are not interested in charting can use an ovulation test kit to see when they ovulate. These kits work much like pregnancy kits, using a small urine sample to test for hormone spikes. With an ovulation predictor, however, the results can be unreliable, as women may experience spikes in hormones which are not caused by ovulation. Combining a kit with other tracking techniques can provide a more complete picture.
Many sites which provide support to people who are trying to have children have ovulation calendars which women can use to track their menstrual cycles. Women may find it easier to chart with these calendars, and the same tools can be used by women who are trying to avoid pregnancy.
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