Fertility Charting Myths: Ovulation Dip

Kati Bicknel
Getting Pregnant
February 13, 2013

Hi again! It’s me (obviously), here to rant some more about fertility charting.

Today’s lucky subject is one of the infamous temperature dips you’ve probably heard of: the ovulation dip. (Its nefarious cousin “implantation dip” will get a whole post to itself, coming soon.)

For starters, let’s go over what this “dip” is and what it allegedly represents. “Ovulation dip” is when you measure a temperature that is lower than your typical preovulatory temperature, and it is followed by your temperature rise, indicating that ovulation has occurred. (Incidentally, the temperature rise indicates ovulation, not the dip.) Many women spend time and a fortune of mind dollars looking for this elusive temperature dip in order to know when sex will have the best chance of resulting in pregnancy. But most women never find an ovulation dip, and then some end up thinking that there is something wrong with them, which is why there is about to be some ranting going on!

Sincerely, don’t let this dip get you down!  You can find out if you’re about to ovulate without looking for this dip that may never come!

While it’s true that a small number of women do experience this ovulation dip, it’s not a reliable way to estimate that you ovulate on that day. In this study, around 15% of women got an ovulation dip, but the dip was anywhere from three days before to two days after the estimated date of ovulation. So 85% of you will probably never see an ovulation dip, and for those of you do, the dip will likely not be on your actual day of ovulation, making it pretty useless. If the “dip” comes after ovulation, the egg’s life will already have come and gone, and pregnancy will not be likely.

If you happen to notice an ovulation dip on your chart month after month that is followed immediately by a shift to a higher set of temperatures, then yes, you are one of the “lucky” few who have that extra level of intel about your body, but don’t jack it up for the rest of humanity by perpetrating the rumor that it’s “common.”  I don’t know where people get this information (an episode of ‘Scrubs,’ perhaps?), but it’s crap, and it freaks women out. And in general, I hate anything that freaks women out.

Did you know that in clinical studies Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs) were shown to give a false positive over seven percent of the time? (Ref 1) But you don’t see women questioning their positive OPK results with the same fervor that they’re looking for an ovulation dip. Clearly, women who are trying to get pregnant are zealously, hopefully looking for some sign that ovulation is approaching.

Well … I have GREAT news, everybody! There is such a sign! It’s your cervical fluid! Fertile cervical fluid can keep sperm alive for up to 5 days inside a woman’s body. So if you have fertile cervical fluid, HAVE SEX!  And have sex every day (or every other day) that you have that fertile cervical fluid! You are way more likely to get pregnant that way than looking for some elusive temperature dip that may not ever happen.

You see, the actual day of ovulation isn’t as important as your *window of fertility.* If you notice fertile cervical fluid on Monday and have sex that day, you can go out of town on a girls-only camping trip for the rest of the week, ovulate on Friday, and still have a chance of getting pregnant.

While it’s more likely that you’ll get pregnant if you have sex at least 2 to 3 days before ovulation, it’s still possible even 4 or 5 days before.

This is because a female body is very good at getting pregnant. That’s what it waaaaaants to do!  Usually in a cycle, once a woman’s body starts producing fertile cervical fluid, it will continue to do so through the day of ovulation. And since an egg only lives for about 12 to 24 hours, after ovulation happens your body will stop producing fertile cervical fluid. It’s got a whole awesome system worked out that has been working since the dawn of human life.

In short, stop scouring your charts for that dip!!! If you get one, great, but don’t stress if you don’t. Pay lots of attention to your cervical fluid. If you don’t know what cervical fluid is, or how to check it, or if you think you just don’t have any, we’ve got you covered.  Read the blog posts in the links, and if your questions still aren’t answered, feel free to ask me. :)

1. McGovern et al. Fertility and Sterility 2004; 82:1273-1277.

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