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Believe it or not, when it comes to trying to conceive there is a “sufficient” way to ovulate. You probably already know that ovulation is needed for pregnancy. After all, without an egg, it is impossible to get pregnant. But there’s a “right way” to ovulate? It may sound strange but making sure you are ovulating sufficiently is critical to increasing your chances of successfully conceiving.


What Is Sufficient Ovulation?

Sufficient ovulation is a phrase used to indicate the fact that a woman is not only ovulating, but she also has enough progesterone to support conception. Progesterone is the hormone released by the corpus luteum or empty follicle after the egg is released. Its presence confirms ovulation, as, without an empty follicle, the body won’t produce progesterone. Progesterone is critical to preparing the uterine lining, so it is ready to receive a pregnancy. Without enough progesterone, the embryo either cannot implant at all or implantation is insufficient to support it. So low progesterone can lead to lack of conception or miscarriage.

But when a woman both ovulates AND has sufficient progesterone to support conception, she is ovulating sufficiently—meaning that she not only has an egg present for fertilization, but she also has enough progesterone to support implantation should the egg be fertilized. To successfully conceive, it is critical that a woman has both an egg AND enough progesterone to support implantation of a fertilized egg.


Can I Tell If I’m Ovulating Sufficiently?

It’s not that difficult to figure out if you are ovulating sufficiently, which is great news! But since there are so many ovulation testing options—which can get confusing—it’s important to take a moment to explain the differences.

Predicting Ovulation: Predicting ovulation is very important because it helps couples trying to conceive find the fertile window and therefore better time intercourse. There are actually only 5-6 days each cycle when a woman is fertile so it’s really important to time intercourse correctly when trying to conceive. Methods include: Ovulation predictor kits (luteinizing hormone or LH tests), cervical mucus monitoring, or saliva ferning patterns

Confirming Ovulation: Although it may seem like you’re good to go if you’ve predicted ovulation, prediction does not always mean something will happen. For example, a weather forecaster may predict that a storm is coming (using sophisticated scientific tools, I might add), but we don’t know if the storm actually happened until we observe it. And we can probably all agree weather forecasts aren’t always accurate. As such, much like the weather, confirming ovulation is an important next step. Methods include:  Basal body temperature tracking, single progesterone test

Confirming Sufficient Ovulation: As we mentioned earlier, sufficient ovulation—meaning that a woman is ovulating AND has enough progesterone to support implantation—is critical when trying to conceive. While basal body temperature is great for confirming ovulation, it falls short of being able to confirm “sufficient ovulation.” That’s because basal body temperature looks for a slight spike in temperature – 0.5 – 1 degree Fahrenheit but the temperature spike does not correlate with the amount of progesterone present. So, getting a spike of 0.5-degrees does not necessarily mean you have low progesterone and getting a spike of 1-degree also does not mean you are good to go.

To confirm sufficient ovulation, it’s critical to ensure that progesterone levels are elevated to 10ng/ml in the blood—the level widely accepted as the minimum threshold to support conception—throughout the 3-4 day implantation window. This means it’s important to test progesterone multiple times during the luteal phase, or second half, of the cycle to make sure progesterone rises and stays elevated at a sufficient level such that conception can occur. Methods include: Multiple days of progesterone testing

When trying to conceive, making sure you are ovulating is good, but it may not be enough. Confirming sufficient ovulation can get you one step closer to ruling out what may be causing issues and to successfully conceiving. Testing progesterone can help you make sure you are ovulating properly and that you have enough progesterone to support conception!