8 great methods for calculating ovulation

 For getting pregnant fast, you need only three things: the presence of active sperm at the time the egg is released and its free access to it.

Your task is to learn how to determine when ovulation is and make love that day or a day or two earlier, then the chances of pregnancy are highest. The beginning of the fertile period, that is, the best time for conception, can be recognized by every woman, it is enough to choose one, or rather several methods that are convenient for yourself. 

Methods are located, starting with the most reliable:

  1. Folliculometry.
  2. LH test.
  3. The study of the image of dried saliva (a crystal “ferning” pattern).
  4. Measurement of the basal body temperature.
  5. Observation of cervical mucus.
  6. Determination of the position and density of the cervix.
  7. Self-monitoring.
  8. The calendar method. 

At the very beginning of planning, it is recommended to try each of these methods. So you can determine your own set of characteristic symptoms of ovulation. Sexual intercourse (SI) outside the fertile period (4-5 days before ovulation day and 1 day after it) is practically a 100% way NOT to get pregnant. 

Standard 28-day menstrual cycle and its stages

So, the normal female cycle consists of these phases:

  1. The growth phase of the follicle, which contains the egg.
  2. Ovulation.
  3. The phase of the yellow hormone-secreting body, which is formed after the rupture of the follicle and the egg release. 

Folliculogenesis (preparation for ovulation) 

There is a step-by-step maturation of follicles – the structural components of the ovaries, special epithelial cocoons with immature eggs. In the classical situation, the stage ends on the 7-8th day of the cycle (DC) with the release of one dominant follicle (more rarely, several). It contains the egg ready for fertilization.

Dominant follicle matures in the ovary to 18-24 mm – follicular phase of the cycle.

Ovulation (possible dates: 7-30 day of the menstrual cycle) 

The dominant follicle matures, ruptures, and releases the egg. She moves towards the uterus. There begins the most favorable period for its fertilization, lasting 24 hours.

Ovulation - the release of a mature egg from the follicle 
Ovulation – the release of a mature egg from the follicle

About 6–48 hours before ovulation, a powerful release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and estrogen occurs. The female body reacts to this with certain physiological changes. Next, we will consider each of the eight methods for determining ovulation. 

Luteal phase 

The transformation of the “waste” follicle into the yellow hormone-secreting body (corpus luteum) in a temporary gland that produces the sex hormone progesterone. If conception has not occurred, this function gradually decreases, the corpus luteum degrades after ovulation and completely dissolves in 2-3 months. 

You can read more about the menstrual cycle and ovulation in this material on ovulationdiary.com. 

The average menstrual cycle duration is 28 days, but this figure can vary significantly in any direction (21-45 days). The individual features of the body affect the course of each stage. Therefore, when the question arises of the best days for conception, accuracy is needed in determining the ovulation period

Ultrasound of the follicles – folliculometry 

This is the most reliable (100%) way to find out the egg’s release date. The procedure is somewhat time-consuming, as it requires several visits to the ultrasound room. 

The essence of the method is as follows: during the cycle, the formation and growth of the dominant follicle (or several) in the ovaries are monitored. On average, the first visit occurs on the 7-10th day of cycle (DC). Further, the screening is repeated every two (sometimes three) days until the fact of ovulation is established. 

Note(!): The day of the first visit is appointed approximately 6 days before the expected ovulation. In most women, it occurs 14 days before the beginning of menstruation. Thus, with a 30-day cycle: 30-14-6 = 10 DC. If the cycle is irregular, you need to count from the shortest. For example, the total duration was: 35, 42, 31, 36, then we take 31 days as a basis: 31-14-6 = 11 DC. 

How to determine the release date of an egg using folliculometry? 

During the first two or three visits, the ultrasonographer will determine how fast the dominant follicle is growing. It will rupture when it reaches approximately 18–24 mm. If at the last dose the follicle reached 18 mm, and the average speed was 2 mm/day, then most likely there will be ovulation in the next three days and you can start actively planning. 

Advice(!): When you know that a mature egg is coming soon, pay attention to your well-being. Are there any signs of the beginning of a high fertility period? Try a few more methods described below. By tracking such patterns, in the future, you can already calculate the day of your ovulation without expensive ultrasound and tests. 

Confirmation of the fact using ultrasound 

So, after the oocyte (egg) is released, the ovary has a dominant follicle no longer, and a corpus luteum is visualized in its place, also there is often free fluid in the abdominal cavity. This suggests that tomorrow you can stop active planning. 

If there is a dominant follicle (by the time of the visit it will be about 24 mm) – then ovulation is today. Ultrasound continues until the yellow body appears.

Folliculometry is a 100% method for determining ovulation. Dominant follicle 
Folliculometry is a 100% method for determining ovulation. Dominant follicle

Advice(!): If the last sexual intercourse took place on the day before – today you can miss and repeat tomorrow. Due to this break, more actively motile sperm cells with good fertilizing ability are formed. When is it better to have sex to get pregnant? You can read in this article

Urine Luteinizing Hormone (LH) Test 

I advise everyone to start with tests for LH. This is the most reliable home method of detecting a period when your chances of pregnancy are maximum. The essence of testing is to detect the moment when in the urine the level of LH reaches a certain level (20-30 mIU/ml for different manufacturers). After such a sharp jump, ovulation will occur in the next two days. 

Test interpretation(!):It is necessary to repeat testing daily until a positive result is obtained when the test strip is the same or even brighter than the control strip. The negative result is when there is only one control strip or the control strip is brighter than the test strip.

LH ovulation test - the second most reliable way to determine ovulation 
LH ovulation test – the second most reliable way to determine ovulation

Advice to beginners(!): In order not to bother with the brightness of the strips, use modern electronic devices, which in case of a positive result will display a smiley face. This is, for example, Clearblue Digital and its improved version Clearblue Digital Advanced, which can detect 3-4 days before ovulation (flashing smiley face). The latest, for example, is convenient for planning a girl. 

When to start testing for ovulation? 

To calculate the test start day, it is necessary to subtract 17 from the number of days of the cycle. Then, for example, with a cycle of 34 days, the first test should be done at 17 DC:

34-17 = 17 DC 

In the case of an irregular cycle, you need to start from the shortest duration. For example, in the last three months, menstruation came in 28, 31, and 32 days. You need to start testing from 11 DC and continue until a positive result is obtained. 

Why this method is not suitable for you? 

  1. Ovulation tests are an expensive pleasure. To track ovulation in one cycle, you will need a minimum of 5 test strips (approximately three days before the release of the hormone and a day or two after). This is provided that your cycle is stable. Now imagine how many test strips you need with an irregular cycle. 

Here’s what you can do: you need to order cheap tests from Amazon (Read more below). 

  1. Many drugs can affect the result. For example, some hormonal, urinative, from hypertension and others.
  2. Some diseases can affect the reliability of the result. Ovarian insufficiency, early menopause, neoplasms, etc. Before testing, you must consult a gynecologist and talk about your chronic diseases. 

Essential conditions for proper testing 

  • It is necessary to conduct the study daily, around the same time (for a more objective assessment). 
  • Do not drink too much fluids (250 ml and less), do not take diuretics, and refrain from urinating for 3-4 hours (so that the LH concentration is maximum). 
  • Open and use the test and urine immediately, do not store. 
  • Do not forget to accurately withstand the time recommended by the manufacturer.

Instructions for using ovulation test strips 

All test strips have a similar instruction, the difference is only in the number of seconds or minutes of waiting:

  1. Get the test and dip it into the container with urine to the maximum level, not higher than the strip marked by arrows;
  2. Wait for the number of seconds indicated by the manufacturer;
  3. Put on a dry horizontal surface;
  4. After a few minutes (depending on the name) evaluate the result. 

Which ovulation test is better? 

The brand of the ovulation test and the place of purchase does not matter. Both the cheap and expensive manufacturers are quite capable of showing ovulation. The only thing is that the test surface on the inexpensive ones is a little wider and therefore it is more convenient to evaluate, plus additional chips in the composition – urine containers, calendars, etc. 

Over the years of planning, I tried a huge number of different test strips and eventually settled on the usual budget option (Ovulation (LH) Test Strip – 50 count for $10.00 on Amazon). 

Midstream or cassette systems only differ in a more modern design and do not require urine collection. All have the same stripes. Electronic “things” are invented for girls who do not want to bother with the comparison and immediately give the exact result – yes or no. 

How not to miscalculate, ordering tests from Amazon, Alibaba, eBay etc 

Ovulation tests can be bought online much cheaper. For example, the price of this test on Amazon comes out much cheaper than in a pharmacy (I had a very irregular cycle until the first pregnancy and every month I took 10-20 tests stably). 

Here is some advice on how I chose for myself goods from the Internet, so as not to meet a dishonest seller: 

  • the seller must be with a positive history, 99% of positive reviews; 
  • product rating not lower than 4.5 stars; 
  • sold more than 500 pieces; 
  • more than 100 reviews published; 
  • It is necessary to specify the availability of information on guaranteed return. 

When to start planning? 

If the test for ovulation gave a positive result – in the next day or two, a mature egg will be released and ready for fertilization. So, in order to get pregnant sooner, you need to make love perfectly today, if the last sex was the day before yesterday, or tomorrow if the SI was yesterday. You can also read more about which days it is better to do active planning to conceive a girl or boy

The detection of saliva crystallization («ferning» pattern in saliva) 

You can find this test on different titles: Ovulation Microscope Based on Saliva, Saliva Ovulation Test, Ovulation Fertility Scope Saliva Based etc. 

The essence of the test is to take a sample of pure saliva daily so that it naturally dries within 15-30 minutes. After that, in a special microscope (an increase of about 50-100 times), it will be possible to see the formed crystals. 

The more estrogen in the biomaterial, the greater effect of fern. The more intense the leaf appears, the closer ovulation is. The process when saliva crystallizes in the form of fern leaves is called arborization.

A positive result is as follows: 

The effect of fern («ferning» or crystal patterns) appears before ovulation itself when there is the maximum level of the hormone estrogen in saliva. 
The effect of fern («ferning» or crystal patterns) appears before ovulation itself when there is the maximum level of the hormone estrogen in saliva. 3-4 days before ovulation.

There are many different images of dried saliva during a cycle. They can even be used in order to diagnose various reproductive system disorders. Crystallization of saliva is a great way to self-diagnose, allowing you to catch not obvious but important problems. Deviations from the norm require the obligatory consultation of a doctor. 

Some advisement for proper testing: 

  • use clean saliva under the tongue; 
  • the best time is right after sleep, before eating, drinking and brushing your teeth. Or one or two hours after eating or drinking should pass; 
  • the volume of biomaterial for analysis – one drop, without air bubbles. 

What is the right crystallization during the cycle? 

Normally, the first non-fertile days of the cycle, when there is a small amount of estrogen, you will see only grains or seeds. Gradually on the 7th – 9th day (with a cycle of 28 days) small branches begin to appear. On the 10-12th DC, the first leaves are unclear. A positive test becomes when the fern is seen very clearly. Further, on the second day after ovulation, the effect of fern decreases and by the third DPO (the day past ovulation) almost completely stops. This picture remains until the end of the cycle. 

Note(!): The test is informative only in dynamics. Without a preliminary study of your crystallization during at least one cycle, it is very difficult to understand right away – two days before the release of an egg or four. I recommend this type of testing to natural researchers who have been fond of biology since childhood. 

When is it better to choose something else? 

In pharmacies, the device is not often found – mostly women order it via the Internet. A test microscope is hard to get – this is the first point worth paying attention to. The second, it is not cheap, the price starts from $17.00.

Here are the most popular brands: 

  • Fertile Focus, personal ovulation microscope. 
  • Maybe Baby At-Home Reusable Saliva Ovulation Tester. 
  • KNOWHEN Saliva Ovulation Test with a Fertility Monitor App and others. 

Here is another reason to think about whether you want to test, memorize, store, compare and evaluate the results on a daily basis? If not, this option for determining fertility is not for you. Better choose tests for LH or folliculometry. 

What if there is no «ferning» pattern in saliva at all? 

In this case, observe the crystallization of saliva in another cycle. It is likely that in this, the ovaries “rest” and there was no dominant follicle, like ovulation itself. This is normal, a woman has anovulatory two or three cycles a year. After 35, the number of such rest periods increases significantly. 

Here are some changes in the image of crystallized saliva that your gynecologist needs to evaluate: 

  • during the cycle no distinct fern leaves were observed; 
  • the effect manifested itself several times, in waves; 
  • the distinct fern effect lasted several days in a row or during the cycle. 

When to start planning? 

The fertile period occurs when estrogen begins to grow in the body — about 3-4 days before ovulation and up to the 1st day past ovulation. In a microscope, you will see formed, but rare, unclear outlined fern leaves. This is the average characteristic of the beginning of favorable days for conception.

You have the highest chance of becoming pregnant one day before and on the day of ovulation when the fern is seen very clearly.

1-2 days before ovulation
0-2 days before ovulation

Advice(!): I recommend that during your first cycle of work with a test microscope to arm yourself with additional methods for determining ovulation (LH tests or basal thermometry, for example). Thus, you will be sure of the correct decoding of tests for the saliva crystallization. Further, with the gaining of practice, you can use only one method that is most convenient for you.

8 great methods for calculating ovulation (Most accurate!)