Your Ovulation Cycle
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It’s important to understand how your individual ovulation cycle works so that you can give yourself the best chance of conceiving. The information below should help you work out the best times to try and how to help your chances. Don’t forget though that it’s just as important to keep some spontaneity in your sex life - enjoying it because it’s fun and loving is what it’s all about!
Working out your ovulation cycle
If your lifestyle and diet is up to scratch, then it’s time to learn more about when your body releases your egg – otherwise known as your ovulation cycle. This helps you know the time when you’re most fertile.
When do you ovulate?
Ovulation occurs when your ovary releases an egg into the fallopian tube and starts to make its way down to the uterus. If you have a 28 day menstrual cycle, you usually ovulate around day 14 (day 1 being the first day of your last period). One thing to think about when you’re trying for a baby is that sperm can live in the uterus for up to 7 days, so instead of waiting for ovulation, you can increase your chances of a sperm meeting your egg by having lots of sex a couple of days before ovulation!
Calculating your fertility
How can you estimate your most fertile days? Try keeping a 6-month record of your menstrual cycle (like an ovulation calendar). Subtract 20 from your shortest cycle to estimate the first day of your fertile window; then subtract 10 from your longest cycle – this is the last day of your fertile window. This method isn’t completely accurate, but it may help you as an indicator when you’re trying to conceive.Example:
Over 6 cycles your shortest cycle was 28 days and your longest was 32:
- 28-20= 8 (shortest)
- 32-10=22 (longest)
This would suggest that your fertile window may be between day 8 and day 22 of your next cycle.
This method is not considered reliable but may be helpful for you and your partner to work out the best times to try making a baby (alongside other indicators of course.)
Signs of ovulation
Cervical mucus method
Vaginal mucus changes throughout your menstrual cycle in response to hormone changes. It can be a good marker of where you are in your cycle and checking it is quick and easy.
A few days following your period you won’t have much mucus, but after a few more days your vaginal mucus will slowly increase, appearing creamy, cloudy or milky. When your body is approaching ovulation, you might notice your vaginal mucus changes and becomes gluey, stringy, slippery, stretchy and clear or like raw egg white. This is the most fertile time in your cycle! Following ovulation until the start of your period, your mucus goes back to being more like the milky kind seen previously. Your fertile window is considered from the start of the milky mucus to around 4 days following the stretchy and clear mucus.Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs):
Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) or sticks: These use your urine to test for ovulation and are said to be the most accurate predictors for calculating ovulation (although not 100%). They contain sticks, a bit like a pregnancy test, and can be purchased from chemists and supermarkets. Lots of our mums here on Karimums have used ovulation test strips just after a period.Recording your temperature (Basal body temperature method)
Important signs of ovulation also include clear changes in your body’s temperature, which means you can get a pretty good idea about your ovulation cycle just by taking your temperature. While it’s not the most reliable method, try checking your temperature at the same time every morning throughout your cycle before you get out of bed. Your BBT rises about half a degree Celsius just after ovulation, so you’ll know for next month when to start trying! This increase in temperature is caused by hormone changes, so it is important to keep in mind that this method only tells you that you’ve ovulated after the fact. Women are most fertile for the few days before their peak temperature, and are least fertile once the temperature has remained high for 3-4 days.
It’s fair to say that this is probably the most demanding of methods for charting your ovulation cycle. Things such as medicines, illness, infection and alcohol can all affect its accuracy, so it’s a good idea not to rely on it solely.
Visit your GP:
You can go to your GP and have tests done to help estimate the time of ovulation. It might also be a good idea to get hubby checked too - it takes two to tango, after all!
Have sex regularly during your fertile period:
When you think you’ve spotted all your ovulation signs, it’s time to get busy and have plenty of sex! This will boost your chances of conceiving, especially as sperm can survive for up to seven days so you’ll give them the best chance to connect with your egg, which only survives unfertilised for up to a day.
Need to know more?
If you think you could be pregnant, have a check through these early signs of pregnancy for some of the telltale indicators.
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