If it’s the time in your life when you want to get pregnant, you may be wondering if you had fallen asleep during biology class. It may seem that while you know everything about how not to get pregnant, getting pregnant is way more complicated than you previously thought. If you feel a bit overwhelmed with figuring out when you ovulate and how to find your fertile window, you’ve come to the right place. Given that there are no other issues present (such as your partner not having viable sperm), getting pregnant all comes down to timing intercourse each month. If you miss your fertile window, you miss your chance to get pregnant that cycle, no matter how healthy and young you are. Since timing intercourse revolves around the day you ovulate, we will explain what you need to know about ovulation so that you can maximize your chances of getting pregnant.
What is Ovulation (A Tiny Bit of Biology):
Given that everything is working properly, ovulation typically occurs once a month when a mature egg is released from the ovary. Every woman is born with millions of eggs, but only approximately 400 eggs actually go through ovulation (source). After each period you have, your body starts to grow and mature another egg, as well as produce other hormones to thicken the lining of your uterus and create a sperm friendly environment. From the ovary, the egg moves down the fallopian tube. If there is sperm that has made its way up the fallopian tube, the egg will be fertilized and travel down to the uterus. Your egg only lives for about 24 hours, and so if there is no sperm around and it’s not fertilized, then the lining of your uterus is shed.
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How to Track Ovulation and Find your Fertile Window:
Since sperm lives anywhere from 3-5 days and your egg lives for 24-hours, your fertile window is considered 6 days long (including the day of ovulation). That said, you are most fertile 2 days before ovulation and the day of ovulation.
Tracking ovulation has not historically been an easy task. If you have an irregular period, check out this blog Q&A with expert in women’s health, Dr. Apetkar, here. In the meantime, follow these steps:
6 Steps on How to Find your Fertile Window:
- Download a period tracker app (many are free) and start tracking your period. This way you will have data on how long your period is and your estimated fertile days. If you go to see your doctor, you will have the information he/she will need.
- Purchase your choice of ovulation predictor product (LH Sticks or Saliva Test). You can buy most ovulation predictor kits at grocery stores or online. Purchase this soon after your period ends - you will need to start this earlier than you may anticipate.
- Keep an eye on your cervical mucus to turn clear, slick and slippery. This indicates that you are fertile.
- Record your basal body temperature (BBT) every morning at the same time before getting out of bed. Your BBT will rise about half a degree Celsius after ovulation has occurred. While this will not help with your fertile window, it will help you to see if you are ovulating or not and can help guide you for the next month. You can also use it to compare your results with your ovulation predictor kit.
- Consider joining a chat forum to ask any questions you have and for support.
- Have intercourse everyday or every other day during your fertile window.
If you have questions or concerns about your cycle or are unsure if you are ovulating, don’t be afraid to contact your health care provider. The Mayo Clinic Website is also a great resource.
Can I Just Use an App to Estimate my Fertile Window?
You may entirely miss your fertile window if you rely on estimations or an app. It is a myth that all women ovulate day 14 of their period. This number is based on an average ovulation day and on women having a 28-day period. Even if you have a 28 day cycle, you may ovulate on different days each month. In fact, a study in early 2000 found that more than 70% of women are in their fertile window before day 10 or after day 17 of their menstrual cycle (Source). The point here is that you can’t just rely on an app or math calculations. You need to measure your individual biological clues that will tell you where you are in your cycle.