Written by: Dr. Amy Beckley, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test — the first and only FDA-cleared test to confirm successful ovulation at home.
Written on 6/16/21
Spoiler alert — you cannot get pregnant when you’re not ovulating!
Ovulation is a critical piece to the pregnancy puzzle. So, spoiler alert — you cannot get pregnant when you’re not ovulating!
Keep reading to learn more about the importance of ovulation when trying to conceive and how you can confirm you are in fact ovulating!
What is ovulation and why is it important?
Ovulation is a key moment in a woman’s cycle: it’s when an egg is released from the ovary! If you are trying to conceive, this is when the egg can meet sperm and be fertilized.
Women are born with all the eggs we will ever have. This is referred to as our “ovarian reserve.” We start ovulating after we experience our first period and will continue to release an egg each cycle until we enter menopause.
Healthy women typically ovulate monthly, except when they are pregnant, breastfeeding, or using birth control. However, anovulatory cycles — cycles in which an egg is not released — can be fairly common, even in women with regular cycles.
Many women don’t think about ovulation until they’re trying to conceive. While ovulation is absolutely critical for conception (after all, with no egg there’s no baby!), ovulation is also a critical biomarker for overall health.
Consistent anovulatory cycles can be a sign of a greater hormone imbalance or other underlying health issue. Additionally, the success of your ovulation — meaning sufficient progesterone production during the luteal phase — can give insight into your hormone health. Being in tune with your ovulation is so important!
When does ovulation occur?
If you are TTC, it can be helpful to know when you’re ovulating in order to time intercourse accurately. After all, there are only a few days each cycle when it’s possible to conceive. These days are known as your fertile window and include the few days leading up to and day of ovulation.
If you think ovulation occurs on cycle day 14, you’re not alone! However, this common statement isn’t always true.
Ovulation occurs about halfway through a woman’s cycle. If your cycle is exactly 28 days, then you could very well ovulate on cycle day 14. However a woman’s cycle can last anywhere from 21 to 35 days, meaning depending on your cycle length you could ovulate before or after cycle day 14.
Yet many women aren’t aware of this. A recent study found that in a group of 300 women, only 13 could accurately estimate their ovulation date. How did these 13 women do it? They were tracking their cycles using ovulation prediction methods!
There are several methods you can use to predict when ovulation is going to occur, including:
- Ovulation tests: Ovulation or LH tests like Proov Predict measure luteinizing hormone levels in urine to predict when ovulation is going to occur. LH surges about 12-36 hours before ovulation is going to occur.
- Cervical mucus monitoring: Cervical mucus monitoring involves tracking the changes in cervical mucus consistency throughout your cycle. During most of your cycle, cervical mucus is thick and sticky. As you approach peak fertility and ovulation, your cervical mucus will become wet and stretchy.
- Ovulation calculators: Ovulation calculators are typically smartphone apps which use your cycle length and period start date to “calculate” when ovulation is going to occur. While these calculators can work for women who have consistent and regular cycles, cycle length can vary naturally, rendering the calculation inaccurate.
Basal body temperature (BBT) tracking: BBT tracking involves monitoring the slight changes in your body’s lowest resting temperature to predict when ovulation is going to occur. Right before ovulation your BBT will slightly dip; then, after ovulation, BBT will rise and remain elevated for a few days.
There are several methods for predicting ovulation, including ovulation tests, cervical mucus monitoring, ovulation calculators, and BBT tracking.
Can you get pregnant when you’re not ovulating?
The bottom line is that you cannot get pregnant if you’re not ovulating. Without an egg present, conception just isn’t possible! And, as we mentioned, anovulatory cycles can be more common than we might think.
There are a few reasons why you might not be ovulating. Often, anovulatory cycles are just a fluke and you’ll likely ovulate the next cycle around.
However, for women with hormonal imbalances like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Hashimoto’s disease, endocrine disorders, etc., ovulation may be inhibited by a hormonal imbalance even though eggs are maturing each cycle. For example, women with PCOS experience elevated levels of androgens (male sex hormones) which can cause an imbalance in reproductive hormones.
This hormonal imbalance can prevent rises in the hormones that stimulate the ovary to release the egg. Even though women with PCOS may have elevated levels of LH throughout their cycles or may experience more than one surge, ovulation still won’t occur.
This is why it is so critical to confirm that ovulation did in fact occur!
How do I know if I’m ovulating?
While the previously mentioned methods are great for predicting ovulation, you still need to confirm it actually happened! Remember that anovulatory cycles can be common.
Serum progesterone blood tests and ultrasounds are both good options for confirming ovulation, however they’re both invasive and can be expensive depending on what health insurance covers.
Luckily, there’s Proov PdG tests! Our PdG tests are the first and only FDA cleared tests to confirm successful ovulation at home. PdG is a urine metabolite of progesterone, which is only produced after ovulation occurs.
Proov PdG tests are the first and only FDA cleared tests to confirm successful ovulation at home.
After progesterone circulates through the bloodstream, it is metabolized by the liver and excreted from the body as PdG. Because of this, PdG testing is completely non-invasive. Studies show that levels of PdG in first morning urine show an average of all serum progesterone levels from the day before.
Even better, PdG testing allows you to test levels over several days during the luteal phase to confirm successful ovulation. PdG needs to rise and remain adequately elevated for several days following ovulation in order to allow for the best possible chance at conception.
We like to see 3-4 positive PdG tests on days 7-10 past peak fertility (i.e. a positive LH test), with a positive on 10 DPP to confirm successful ovulation. More than 1 negative PdG test or a negative result on 10 DPP may be a sign of “weak” ovulation which can make it more difficult to conceive.
If you want to know more about your ovulation, the Predict and Confirm kit allows you to predict and confirm ovulation all in one! Knowing when and if you ovulate is critical to conception.