Knowing whether and when you ovulate is essential for inseminating when your fertility is optimal. If you have not already started, begin charting your ovulation by regular observations of your cycle and by using an ovulation predictor kit (OPK). We will need to know:
– When day 1 of your cycle is (first day of bright red bleeding)
– How many days your period lasts
– What cycle day your OPK turns positive
Ovulation Predictor Kits (required):
We require the use of ovulation predictor kits (OPK) to verify that the LH surge has occurred. This surge usually proceeds and predicts ovulation, which will occur 24-36 hours later. You can use any kit brand and can purchase at pharmacies or online. They cost between $15-60 and come with instructions.
Observe a definite negative test before the kit turns positive. When in your insemination cycle, test twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Once your kit has turned positive, stop testing. Test with an OPK for 3 cycles before your enrollment visits.
Cervical Mucus Changes (optional):
To observe changes in the cervix and cervical mucus, you will need a speculum, a hand-held mirror, and a flashlight. You can get a speculum from your health care facility. Specula come in different sizes. If you have given birth vaginally, you might try a large. If you can comfortably fit three fingers in the vagina, you might try a medium. Otherwise, you can try a small. Even though these are plastic, you can wash them with warm water and hand soap after each use and re-use again (never share a speculum with another person).
For home-based insemination, it can be useful to observe your cervical mucus to determine when it is fertile. Fertile mucus is more stretchy, slippery and usually clearer, like egg white, as opposed to white and tacky or creamy. You can identify this mucus either on the vulva or labia (vaginal opening) or by using a speculum to observe it on the cervix. Record your observations of the consistency and color of your mucus daily during the week in the middle of your cycle (usually days 10 through 20). Record changes of your os (the opening of the cervix). The os will gradually become more open as you approach ovulation. The cervix appears softer and higher around the time of ovulation.
Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Charting (optional):
Another method to use for fertility screening and for estimating the time of ovulation is by charting daily oral temperatures. Your temperature is lower during the first part of the menstrual cycle than it is during the last 2 weeks. The temperature shift occurs after ovulation. We assume that ovulation occurs when there is a rise of 0.4 to 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit or more between 24-hour readings.