Buffing Out Your BBT Chart: Secondary Signs of Fertility and Ovulation
Midcycle Pain, Ovulation Spotting, Breast Sensitivity and Patterns of Arousal
You may already be familiar with the most common methods of charting fertility and predicting ovulation. These methods, of course, include bbt charting, monitoring changes in cervical mucus and cervix position, and using ovulation tests: from peeing on low-cost lh strips to deploying super high-tech fertility gadgetry. The methods above constitute the foundation and lynchpin of calculating ovulation (aka knowing the best time of the month to achieve pregnancy).
With the basics covered, let’s look at other aspects and symptoms that may precede, accompany, or follow ovulation. These are what we call the secondary ovulation signs. Why secondary? Well, it’s not because they are unimportant, but rather because they may be less predictable, more subject to personal variation and idiosyncrasy, or they may simply not occur at all for many women.
Let’s discover what these secondary fertility phenomena look or feel like, and determine where we can fit them into our fertility chart….
Midcycle Pains or Painful Ovulation: Just before you ovulate, we can observe changes in cervical mucus, the texture becoming thinner, more stretchy, more watery, and translucent like egg-white to the eye. About this time, you may feel a bit of pain in your lower abdomen, on one side or the other. These periodic sensations of discomfort (which can be mild or sharp) are typically referred to as ovulation pains, midcycle pains, or mittelschmerz. The latter term is from German and can be translated literally as middle-pain. Ever wondered where the phrase “that smarts” comes from? It’s derivative from schmerz – via such Northern European intermediary terms like smerte (Dutch) and smärta (Swedish).
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If you “smart” a bit during the middle of your cycle, these often sharp pains may be directly attributed to the physiological process of ovulation itself. That’s because when ovulation takes place, the process of the ovarian follicle rupturing (with the concomitant expellation of the egg) may, in fact, cause a bit of pain. And understandably so, as the ovarian follicle must open itself and provide a hole (ouch) so the ovum can move into the fallopian tube.
If you are fertility charting, consider heightening awareness to sensations in your abdomen or lower back around the time you expect to ovulate. Midcycle pains can confirm that you are ovulating and, therefore, provide one more excellent means of narrowing in on your most fertile time of the month. Got midcycle pains? Chart em! (Though do keep in mind that only about a quarter of all women experience ovulation pains).
While on the topic of the process of O-ing, “ovulation spotting” is another secondary ovulation sign that may occur. Ovulation spotting occurs when you see faint traces of blood shortly after the egg is released. The “rupturing” of the ovarian follicle and the bursting forth of the egg may not only cause you a bit of midcycle mittelschmerz, but a small amount of bleeding as well. This spotting occurs rather seldom – or can be easily overlooked. For women who examine cervical mucus, you have a better chance of detecting ovulation spotting, which may appear as a light pink streak in your CM.
Increased Breast Sensitivity is another possible indicator that ovulation has taken place. In fact, the hormone that causes your basal body temperature to rise (progesterone) may also encourage your breasts and nipples to become more tender. While this can also be an early pregnancy symptom later in your cycle, if you experience midcycle breast sensitivity, this is likely a physical symptom confirming that you have ovulated. Monitor, record, and cross-confirm these sensations on your fertility chart. You may see the intensity of breast sensitivity increase with your bbts as you move into the middle of your luteal phase (around Week 3 based on a 28-Day cycle).
Increased Libido makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint as a heightened sex-drive during your most fertile time would naturally lead to increased reproductive opportunity (likelihood of pregnancy). Heightened arousal and sex drive around the time you ovulate (before and during) is also a possible fertility indication, though like your bbt temps this is a pattern that needs to be confirmed over several cycles. Monitor monthly patterns of arousal in your bbt chart to see if sex-drive itself is a variable in your own unique fertility profile.