October 14, 2021/Women's Health

Ovulation Calendar: What It Is and How to Use It

Keep track of your menstrual cycle to identify your most fertile days

Ovulation calendar on phone

Whether you’re trying to conceive or looking to prevent pregnancy, using an ovulation calendar might work for you.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

A tool to calculate your most fertile days, an ovulation calendar or schedule tracks your menstrual cycle. This can help take some of the guesswork out of trying to get pregnant.

Some people turn to an ovulation calendar because they may have symptoms or medical conditions that prevent them from using birth control. Others may not like using birth control for personal reasons.

Ob/Gyn Erin Higgins, MD, explains what an ovulation calendar is and how it works.

What is an ovulation schedule?

Used to track your menstrual cycle, an ovulation calendar or schedule can help you calculate your most fertile days.

The average length of a menstrual cycle is 28 days. Ovulation, which is when your ovary releases an egg, happens around 14 days before bleeding begins. Your most fertile days — the best chances to get pregnant — are five days before ovulation and the day of ovulation. You are less likely to become pregnant the days before and during your period.

During ovulation, the egg travels down the fallopian tube where it can be fertilized if there is sperm present. If so, the egg and sperm will create an embryo.

How to figure out your ovulation schedule

You can use an ovulation calendar — whether you use an online version, an app or keep track on your own — to figure out your most fertile days.

Remember that your menstrual cycle doesn’t just include the days where you experience bleeding.


“When we’re talking about a menstrual cycle we’re talking about the entire month,” says Dr. Higgins. “You’re only bleeding for a few days.”

Your menstrual cycle begins the first day of bleeding and ends the next day before your period. It can be tricky to calculate the best time for ovulation, especially if your period isn’t regular.

To figure out your ovulation schedule, you need to work out the average length of your menstrual cycle.

To do so, track your next three menstrual cycles. Start with the first day you have bleeding (the start of your period) and count the days in between the start of your next period. After the three months, add those three numbers together and divide by 3. That will be your average length of a menstrual cycle.

For example, if your first cycle was 27 days, your second was 30 and your third one was 28, your average would be 28 days.

The next step is to pinpoint your most fertile days. Ovulation happens about 14 days before your period starts. For example, if your average menstrual cycle is 28 days, you should ovulate on day 14, making your most fertile opportunities days 9 to 14.


How to use it for pregnancy planning

Using an ovulation calendar calculator can be a great tool for women who are not on birth control. Depending on whether you want to conceive or avoid a pregnancy, it can help you figure out the best time to have sex.

Other methods can also help you figure out if you’re ovulating:

  • Check your basal body temperature. Ovulation can cause a slight increase in your basal body temperature. Use a thermometer that displays decimal points to take your body’s temperature at the same time each day. You want to look for your temperature to increase between 0.4- and 1-degree Fahrenheit.
  • Examine your cervical mucus. During your menstrual cycle, your cervical mucus or vaginal discharge changes in color, texture and amount. You can use your fingers or a cotton swab to collect and observe your mucus. If it looks like raw egg whites, you might be ovulating.
  • Use an ovulation prediction kit. Like a pregnancy test, you will need to pee on a stick. The results will show if you have an increase in hormones, meaning you are ovulating.

Using these methods or an ovulation schedule for getting pregnant can narrow down the window of opportunity.

“A lot of people want that very specific detail so they can have timed intercourse,” says Dr. Higgins.

Having as much information as possible when it comes to your ovulation can help reduce stress whether you’re hoping to start or grow a family now or sometime later — or if you don’t envision children in your future.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Pregnant person standing at desk working, hand on belly
October 19, 2021/Pregnancy & Childbirth
How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy After 35

What women should know about “advanced maternal age”

woman in bed taking termperature
May 6, 2021/Women's Health
Can Tracking Your Basal Body Temperature Help You Conceive?

It will at least familiarize you with the timing of your particular menstrual cycles

Hand holding packet of birth control pills in front of feet on a scale
April 23, 2024/Women's Health
Birth Control and Weight Gain: What the Science Says

Despite popular opinion, scientific research shows that most birth control methods don’t contribute to weight gain

Healthcare provider holding prescription bottle talking with older female
April 12, 2024/Women's Health
What Does a Hot Flash Feel Like?

Heat starts in your chest and moves up to your neck and face … and then, the sweating begins

Female sitting in chair with hot waves coming off their head
April 9, 2024/Women's Health
8 Myths and Truths About Menopausal Hot Flashes

While they may not burn calories or cause fevers, these heat waves can make you miserable — but you don’t have to just grin and bear it!

Plate full of colorful and healthy fruits, veggies and grains
April 8, 2024/Women's Health
6 Ways To Boost Breast Health

Taking precautions like eating healthy, stopping smoking and getting regular screenings can help protect against breast cancer

Female awake in bed at night
April 5, 2024/Women's Health
What To Expect in Each Stage of Menopause

It’s a natural part of aging, starting with perimenopause and eventually leading into postmenopause

Female sitting in chair at home staring into the distance, phone in hand
April 3, 2024/Women's Health
Why Is My Period Lasting So Long?

From medications and stress to PCOS and STIs, there’s a wide range of reasons Aunt Flo may overstay her welcome

Trending Topics

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

woman snacking on raisins and nuts
52 Foods High In Iron

Pump up your iron intake with foods like tuna, tofu and turkey