Lesson 13 - Secondary Fertility Signs to Look For

Lesson Objectives:

  • Learn how to recognize and chart secondary fertility signs

Major Points:

  • Besides primary fertility signs, such as BBT, cervical position, cervical fluid, and the results from fertility tests and devices, secondary fertility signs could help determine your fertility status.
  • Secondary signs of fertility may include breast tenderness, abdominal pain, ovulation pain, vulvar swelling, complexion changes, intermenstrual bleeding, sex drive changes, or any other signs exclusively related to your monthly menstrual cycle. 
  • These secondary fertility signs cannot be used to pinpoint ovulation or concisely identify your fertility status as the signs can greatly vary from woman to woman.
  • Charting secondary fertility signs can be helpful when determining a pattern and for crosschecking with primary fertility signs.
  • Some women will notice secondary fertility signs, while other women may not. If you do not notice other fertility signs, don’t worry.

While primary fertility signs, such as taking your basal body temperature with an in-ear thermometer, are often more concise, recognizing secondary fertility signs can also help you establish your fertility status. There are numerous secondary signs that may present in some women, such as intermenstrual pain (known as ovulation pain or “mittelschmerz”), lower back pain, abdominal bloating, vulvar swelling, and breast tenderness.

Some women may notice these secondary fertility signs, while others may not. Not experiencing secondary fertility signs does not indicate a lack of fertility. Some women may also notice other signs not mentioned here. As every woman is different, chart your own unique fertility signs throughout your cycle. Charting your observations can help you better determine your fertility status.

The most common additional fertility signs include:

  • Ovulation Pain: Also referred to as mittelschmerz, meaning “middle pain”, ovulation pain presents as a slight discomfort felt near the ovary or abdomen around ovulation. However, ovulation pain does not always occur on the actual day of ovulation. It can occur in the days leading up to ovulation, during ovulation, or in the days following ovulation. While not every woman experiences ovulation pain, those that do can use this fertility sign to crosscheck with other signs. Note that other pains can closely mimic ovulation pain so it may not be easy to distinguish true ovulation pain from other types of pain.
  • Ovulation Spotting: During the time of ovulation, some women may notice slight spotting. While ovulation spotting is uncommon, it may present with pink or blood-tinged streaks through the cervical fluid. If you do experience ovulation spotting and it is heavier than usual or lasts longer than a day, talk to your doctor about your concerns.
  • Increased Sex Drive: Sex drive can change from cycle to cycle and may present in a pattern. For example, your sex drive may be high just before or during ovulation when you are most fertile. If you notice a pattern occurring, it can be helpful to record your observations.
  • Breast Tenderness: It’s common to feel some breast tenderness around the time of ovulation. You may notice a pattern each cycle consisting of increased breast tenderness around ovulation that diminishes soon after. It’s important to note that breast tenderness can also be an early pregnancy sign. This is because breast tenderness is linked to progesterone.  This hormone increases during the luteal phase of your period and during pregnancy. Use patterns in breast tenderness to crosscheck with your other fertility signs.
  • Other Observations: Take notice of other possible fertility signs that could clue you in on your fertility status. Other signs may include changes in your complexion, reduced energy levels, mood change, or any other sign that you notice during your monthly cycles. 

Physical and emotional changes during your menstrual cycle can help you better pinpoint ovulation. These secondary signs are not always clear or concise, but they may help you determine your fertility status.