Because the Day 14 ovulation myth is far from reliable for women with irregular periods, simply assuming that timing sex around day 14 after the last period can lead to frustrations. Therefore, experts recommend that women with irregular periods opt for more tried and true methods or tests often throughout a cycle to ensure accuracy. Thus, ovulation predictor kits (OPKs), tracking basal body temperature (BBT), and even checking for cervical mucus changes are proven and more reliable methods than simply trying to guess when ovulation occurs.
1. The easiest and most accurate option: OPKs
OPKs are the most reliable method for tracking ovulation for a woman with an irregular period. The kits are easy to manage and require a woman to pass a testing strip through a stream of urine quickly. The test screens for a surge in luteinizing hormone, a hormone that triggers ovulation. OPKs range from analog models designed for periodic testing to digital options that continuously track hormone levels throughout a woman’s cycle to pinpoint the optimal days to try to conceive successfully. For irregular periods, experts recommend regularly testing throughout the cycle.
2. The classic tracking choice: BBT
Tracking BBT is a proven and classic method for pinpointing ovulation and is one of the most low-cost methods. To track BBT, women need to purchase a basal body temperature thermometer designed to detect even 1/100th of a degree in temperature change. A woman’s body temperature rises when ovulation occurs and throughout the end of a cycle until the period occurs. However, the biggest drawback of tracking BBT is the time commitment and the fact that a rise in temperature means ovulation is or already happened. A woman must consistently take the temperature at the same time every morning. Occasionally, several months may go by before a discernible temperature change pattern is understood.
3. The visual tracker: changes in cervical mucus
While ovulation may not happen simultaneously for women with irregular periods, some physical indicators are consistent regardless—cervical mucus changes throughout a woman’s cycle. And as ovulation nears, the mucus changes from being clear and runny to stretchy and the consistency of egg whites.
Picking the most effective ovulation tracker
For the most accuracy, experts agree that OPKs are the best choice. Although OPKs can be expensive, the improved accuracy allows couples to expertly time sex with ovulation. Additionally, cervical mucus changes are helpful since the changes occur before ovulation. Of the three approved at-home methods, BBT is considered one of the least effective options. Beyond the extended time commitment, the temperature change occurs after ovulation, so timing sex around ovulation can be too confusing and irregular for couples to manage.