Basic knowledge tells you that your best chance of getting pregnant naturally occurs during ovulation. Many women can estimate their most fertile period by charting their menstrual cycle and having intercourse during those mid-point days between the onset of your periods. But it isn’t always as easy as planning for romance on the 14th day of a typical 28-day cycle. In fact, there are several variables which go into determining your “window” of fertility.
Ovulation occurs when the egg is released from the ovary. Upon its release from the ovary, your egg travels through the fallopian tube where, if all goes according to plan, it will meet up with the father’s sperm and be fertilized. Determining ovulation can be tricky, especially for those whose menstrual cycles aren’t exactly regular.
Knowing when you ovulate offers you the best chance of becoming pregnant. In order to calculate your optimal fertility window, you’ll need to track your menstrual cycle. You can do this using a calendar, or, if you like, by using our handy online tracker.
Your cycle begins on the first day of your period, the day your bleeding starts. The last day of your cycle is the day before your next period begins. Remember, your period occurs on those days when you actually bleed, as your uterine lining is shed, and typically lasts 5-7 days. Your menstrual cycle begins (day one) on the first day of your period, but lasts until the day before you start your next period, typically 21-35 days.
Most women have cycles that vary in length from month to month. One month you may go 28 days between periods, then the next month may be 24 or 32 days. This is absolutely normal-and why you need to track your period for a few months to find the optimal fertilization window, the best time to conceive. Tracking for a few cycles will help you determine an average length of your cycle so you can approximate your most fertile days.
Begin on day one of your period and count the number of days until your next period, which is day one of your next cycle. Track for 3 months and add the total number of days. Divide that number by three and you’ll have your average cycle length.
Ovulation normally occurs 12-16 days prior to your period. The second part of the cycle does not change and lasts almost always 14 days. The first part does change which then determine the length of the entire cycle. For example, if your cycles are 28 days, then ovulation is on day 14. If the cycle are 26 days, then ovulation lands on day 12. If the cycle is 32 days, then ovulation day is day 18.
The best way to determine the day of ovulation is to use the ovulation predictor kits (OPKs). Take the shortest cycle and subtract 14 which should be the earliest day that you would ovulate. Start testing 2 days prior to that day, so you don’t miss ovulation.
Other Ways to Find Your Most Fertile Days
There are other ways to identify when you’re ovulating. Pay attention to your body and you’ll see signs that ovulation is imminent. Your cervical mucus changes as you approach ovulation. Right before your egg is released, you’ll notice a change in the mucus discharge in your vagina. It will be clear, slippery, and appear like the white of an egg. This indicates a highly optimal time to conceive.
Another way to determine when you are ovulating is by charting your basal body temperature using a basal thermometer. This method is not as reliable as the OPKs and therefore its use is usually not recommended any longer.
While You Wait
Ensuring your health, and the overall health of the father, are excellent, at the time you attempt conception, is crucial. So, while you’re calculating your menstrual cycle, be sure not to stress too much. Stress can wreak havoc with your immune system. Also, try to abstain from alcohol, and recreational marijuana. Both of these can decrease the concentration of sperm for dad, and contribute to a less-than-healthy environment for fertilization to occur.
One way to ensure you, and your partner are in your best baby-making health is to adopt a “pregnancy” diet and lifestyle before you conceive. Make sure you consume enough protein, whole grains, and fruits and veggies. Stay away from processed foods, like cold cuts, and soft cheeses that may increase your risk for some food borne illnesses. Take a multi-vitamin supplement designed to support conception. There are excellent vitamins available for both mom and dad.
Finding the right window of opportunity for fertilization to occur is possible, and makes a huge difference in upping your odds of conception. Take the time to chart your cycle, notice changes to your body, and your temperature. Maintain your good health, get plenty of rest, and try to remain calm. You want your baby to have the best start possible.