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Understanding a woman's menstrual cycle is the key to getting pregnant. That is why a lot of women chart out their menstrual cycles to increase their chances of pregnancy.
Most women do not have adequate knowledge regarding their menstrual cycle. A typical menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days, counting from the first day of the period to the first day of the next  . Out of these 28 days, the 14-15 day is when the ovulation takes place. In the menstrual cycle, the period of ovulation, in particular, is said to be the most fertile period, where chances of pregnancy are quite high.
During ovulation, the ovaries release the ripest egg into the uterus waiting for it to get fertilised by a sperm. A hormone known as the luteinizing hormone is responsible for the release of the egg. This is the most fertile period for a woman to get pregnant. The egg stays in the uterus for a period of 24 hours. Sexual intercourse during this time is a sure shot way to get pregnant  . However, not all women can calculate their exact ovulation period.
Women have different and varied menstrual cycles. Therefore, it becomes a bit trickier to calculate the exact ovulation period. The time period of the egg released in the uterus is very narrow. If it does not get fertilised by a sperm within 24- 48 hours of its release, it dissolves into the uterus.
Though the sperm can live in the body for 2-3 days, it is important to get the period of your ovulation right in order to increase your chances of pregnancy.
Signs That Indicate Ovulation
Not all women are blessed with a 28-day menstrual cycle. If your cycle is longer or shorter than that, you may not exactly know when you are ovulating. However, there are certain signs that your body will exhibit while it is ovulating. Keeping an eye open for such signs will surely help you determine if you are ovulating or not.
1. Thickening of the cervical mucus
As your body gets ready to conceive, the cervical mucus becomes thick and slippery in order to trap the sperm cells and makes it easier for them to reach the egg  . During ovulation, there are high levels of estrogen in the body, which are mainly responsible for the thickening of the mucus.
If you notice a clear, slippery and stretchy discharge, somewhere in between your menstrual cycle, you can take it to be a sign of ovulation. Your vagina will also feel moister than regular days. Swiping some toilet paper can help you ascertain this fact as well.
2. Breast tenderness
Do you feel that your breasts are tender to touch on some days than others? This may just indicate your ovulation period. Tender breasts are caused by the hormones which are released during ovulation. Though it may not be a sure shot way to predict ovulation, it is known to be quite accurate in some women. A lot of studies have revealed that breast tenderness when coupled with night sweats are an indication of ovulation in many women  .
3. A bulging stomach
Fluid retention, commonly known as bloating is another sign that your body is undergoing ovulation  . The cervix, which is usually hard and closed, moves to the front of your abdomen during ovulation. This results in a bulging belly and bloating.
The cervix shifts to the centre of your abdomen and moves slightly up. It opens up to accommodate any fertilised egg coming its way. There are a lot of women who try to check the position of their cervix by themselves through squatting. This will help you determine if your cervix is lying low or high. If you are not able to feel your cervix, chances are you are undergoing ovulation.
4. Changes in your basal body temperature
This is one of the most accurate ways to know if you are ovulating or not. When the ovaries release an egg into the uterus for fertilisation, it accompanies with some changes in your body temperature  . This is done to ensure a healthy environment for the egg as well as give maximum survival chances for the sperm trying to reach the egg.
There is at least 0.2 degrees Celsius increase in your body temperature during ovulation. You can start by measuring your body temperature every day right from the end of your period, preferably first thing in the morning. If you notice a slight change in your body temperature around the middle of your menstrual cycle, that day is most likely to be your ovulation day.
5. Increased sexual drive
Nature has its own ways to guide us to the best route. If you feel like going overboard with your sexual drive, it may just indicate that you are ovulating  . Your natural sex drive touches the roof during your most fertile period due to an overdrive of sexual hormones flooding your system.
Moreover, these hormones are also responsible for making you more attractive to your partner. This is just nature's way of telling you to get some action between the sheets and let the laws of nature take over.
6. Other signs of ovulation
Just like a menstrual cycle, the ovulation period may also be different in each woman. While most of the women experience the above symptoms, there are a few signs which are quite uncommon in women. These may include spotting, cramping in one side of the stomach or a heightened sense of smell and taste.
Among the three, many women have experienced spotting during their mid-cycle  .
Cramping is also something that indicates ovulation. This happens when the cervix tries to shift positions. Though it is very rare, sharp pain in one side of your stomach indicates the most fertile days of your menstrual cycle.
How To Track Ovulation
The ovulation cycle in women may be different. If you are having problems in decoding your body language or having trouble conceiving, there are a lot of products in the market that will help you. These products are very accurate in predicting your ovulation cycle, thereby increasing your chances of pregnancy.
Here are a few ways to help estimate your ovulation period accurately.
1. Using ovulation prediction kits (opks)
Just like pregnancy detection kits, there are plenty of ovulation prediction kits in the market that will help you identify your most fertile days in your cycle. The OPKs work by measuring the level of luteinising hormones in the body.
They are extremely simple to use, just like pregnancy tests. The test strip should be dipped in a glass containing your urine. You can read the results within seconds. If the test is positive, it means that an egg awaits in your uterus to get fertilised.
2. Ovulation calculators
Ovulation calculators are another reliable method to gauge your upcoming ovulation period, but you need to enter accurate information in them first. Simply download an ovulation calculator from the play store. It will ask your last day of your menstrual cycle and your estimated cycle length. It will then, help you calculate the days that you are most likely to ovulate.
Do remember that the sperm stays in the body for 3-5 days. So it is a good idea to start having intercourse at least two days before your ovulation to increase your chances of pregnancy.
3. Ovulation microscopes
A rather different approach to finding if you are ovulating is by studying the pattern of your dry saliva. It may sound weird, but it does work well. There are a lot of small hand-held microscopes that are available in the market. You can use these to study the pattern of your dry saliva. If you find a 'ferning' pattern in your saliva, it is an indication that you are ovulating  .
If your partner and you indulge in intercourse most of the times only with the want of conceiving, it may just take the fun out of the entire act. Though having sex around your ovulation cycle is recommended in order to get pregnant, enjoying the act with your partner is equally important. Just listen to the signs of your body and have fun along the way, a baby is sure to follow!
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-  Fulghesu, A. M., Magnini, R., Piccaluga, M. P., & Porru, C. (2014). Ovulation induction in young girls with menometrorragia: a safe and effective treatment. Gynecological Endocrinology, 30(2), 117-120.
-  Saibaba, G., Srinivasan, M., Aarthy, A. P., Silambarasan, V., & Archunan, G. (2017). Ultrastructural and physico-chemical characterization of saliva during menstrual cycle in perspective of ovulation in human. Drug discoveries & therapeutics, 11(2), 91-97.