We’ve gotten pretty good at identifying the symptoms that come along with PMS. We feel more bloated, we get a bit crampy, and we can’t help but feel more irritable than usual (or is it just that the world turns more annoying than usual?). But it’s not as easy to tell when we’re ovulating. The symptoms aren’t as blatantly obvious as they are when we’re PMSing, and we haven’t really been taught how to identify the ovulation phase of our menstrual cycle.
When you’re ovulating isn’t hard to figure out, though, and it’s a good thing to know, whether you’re trying to get pregnant or you’re trying to avoid getting pregnant and you don’t take birth control (although please talk to your OBGYN before you try the rhythm method). HelloGiggles spoke to Alyssa Dweck, M.D., gynecologist in New York, assistant clinical professor OBGYN, and author of V is for Vagina, about what ovulating looks and feels like. Obviously, this only applies to people who are actually ovulating, so if you’re taking the Pill, you can count yourself out, because Dr. Dweck reminds us, “You don’t ovulate when you’re on the Pill.” But if you’re not, and you’re curious about the baby-making phase of your cycle, read on.
Here are four signs you’re ovulating.
1. Faint pain in your lower pelvisWe’re not talking about the kind of pain that comes during your period. It doesn’t feel like menstrual cramps. “You may notice a little twinge of pain during the mid-cycle,” Dr. Dweck describes it. “It could be on one side or the other of the lower pelvis.” She says it’s “fleeting, short-lasting, not severe, but definitely noticeable.”
This happens because the egg that’s been developing is released from the ovary, along with some fluid. It’s believed that the fluid or even some blood that is emitted from the ovary could irritate the lining of your abdominal cavity. It’s officially called mittelschmerz (don’t ask us why), and some women feel it more than others, so it may not be a problem at all for you while your friends experience it on a regular basis. It’s nothing you need to worry about, so don’t fret, unless of course the pain is so unbearable you can’t go about your day normally. In that case, chat with your doctor ASAP.
2. A change in discharge.Don’t look at your vaginal discharge, did you say? Now’s the time to start! The stuff coming out of your vag can tell you everything you need to know, which is why you’ll notice that one of the things you’re meant to record every day on your fertility or period tracking app is what your discharge looks like. When you’re ovulating, Dr. Dweck says you’ll see “thinner, more watery, egg white type of mucus,” and it’s “much more noticeable” than the discharge you would see at any other time during your cycle.
Take some (clean) toilet paper, wipe yourself down there, and use your finger to examine your discharge. Go ahead, don’t be shy. If it’s watery enough to be stretched between fingers, that means you’re fertile, and that mucus is meant to provide nourishment to any sperm that comes its way.
3. Increase in sex drive.It’s natural to feel super-duper horny at your most fertile point of your cycle. Dr. Dweck says it’s “nature’s way of helping you to get pregnant or helping you to avoid pregnancy.” If you can’t think of anything else but jumping your partner’s bones, you’re probably ovulating.
Strangely enough, at the same time, you become more attractive to the person you’ve knockin’ boots with. Your body is naturally giving off pheromones when you ovulate that smell impossibly delicious to the opposite sex, and you’re inadvertently giving off behavioral cues that indicate you’re ready to get down and dirty. It’s a fool-proof recipe for hot sex.
4. Change in basal body temperature.The other big thing all those fertility and period-tracking apps ask you to record is your basal body temperature, which is the lowest temperature your body is at in a 24-hour period. You track it by taking your temperature first thing in the morning, before doing any kind activity or moving around.
“Basal body temperature does increase just before ovulation,” Dr. Dweck says. So if you really need to track your ovulation for pregnancy (or lack thereof) purposes, take your temperature before you roll out of bed to see if it’s a little higher than normal. Then carry on accordingly.