Many of the forms of birth control currently available to women seem like easy fixes—IUDs, the pill, hormone shots—you put the thing in your body or you tae the little pill and you can forget about what your body is doing. It’s all taken care of. The result of this has been a severe alienation from our own bodies, to the point that many women have no idea when they are the most or least fertile. So when standard forms of birth control don’t work or are unavailable, women end up unexpectedly pregnant.
Learning how to decipher al the subtle changes our bodies go through every month not only grounds us in our own skin, but allows us to understand what ur bodies are doing and autonomously act on what they need. So how to tell if your ovaries just released that lil’ magic speck known as the ovum?
Generally, ovulation happens halfway through your cycle, but each body is different and external variables can affect our cycles month to month. One good tipoff is an increase in sexual appetite. If you suddenly find yourself wanting to hump the closest hipster, you may be ovulating. As far as the internal workings, a good first step is checking out your cervix—if you never have, you can sometimes acquire plastic speculums from reproductive health clinics. If that fails, there’s always the “grab a spec out of the drawer when the gyno’s out of the room” approach—although this could put a strain on future spec resources. How about sharing one between friends?
Once you’ve got a good view… your cervix changes color and texture depending on where you are in your cycle. Bright blue or verging on bluish? Probably time for a prego test! When you are ovulating, your cervix will be pulled higher up and it may be softer and larger than usual (which you will not recognize unless you routinely peek up in there. The os (openings to your cervix) may also be slightly open.
In conjunction with the daily guise of your cunt, your juices are very telling. You taste differently when you’re about to bleed than when you’re ovulating… Doing routine taste tests—or getting someone else to– can help determine where you are at in your cycle. Also, the consistency of vaginal mucous changes as hormones shift though your cycle. To test your juices, make sure your fingers are clean and clipped and gently swipe around your cervix. If you find a clear, salty, slightly thick blob of what appears to be snot, you’re ovulating! Before you ovulate your mucous will be thinner and kind of milky and creamy. A good test is to test the mucous with your fingers: when you’re ovulating, it will be almost gummy, and it should stretch between your fingers. Pre-fertile mucous will not be as tacky. Right after you ovulate, you will find thick, sticky, maybe curdy or clumpy, white mucous. If it is sticky and white with little or no snot, it’s safe to say you just ovulated. The rise in progesterone as your period approaches makes your vagina dry up a bit. With some practice and close attention, it is also possible to actually feel your ovaries releasing an egg—a very slight pain or tightness in the vicinity of your ovaries is the cue.
Knowing these things does not do much unless you routinely check the status of your vagina and familiarize yourself with the progression of your cycle, including moods and bodily changes. Making it a weekly habit to do a little self-inspection goes a long way toward planning birth control as well as the amazing empowerment of knowing what your body is doing and when.
Compiled from my head/body and “Cunt” by Inga Muscio, Seal Press, 2002.