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How to Determine Your Most Fertile Day to Conceive.
One of the biggest factors for women trying to conceive is their menstrual cycle.
Timing sexual intercourse with your partner during the fertile days of your menstrual cycle, when you’re ovulating, can drastically increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Before you can determine your most fertile day or days, also known as your fertility window, you need to better understand your cycle and track it properly.
Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle
Identify the key stages of your menstrual cycle.
Your menstrual cycle occurs in several stages, but this does not mean you are fertile throughout your entire menstrual cycle, or period.
In fact, it is a myth that a woman can get pregnant throughout her entire menstrual cycle.
Instead, you can only get pregnant on your most fertile days, before and during ovulation.
Ovulation occurs when a mature egg is released from your ovary, and moves down your fallopian tube so it can be fertilized by the sperm.
The phases of your menstrual cycle are:
Menstruation, which begins your menstrual cycle.
It happens when your body eliminates the thickened lining of your uterus from your body through the vagina.
This causes bleeding during your period, and generally lasts between 3-7 days.
It also marks the first day of the follicular phase, which stimulates the growth of follicles, which contain eggs.
This phase ends when ovulation occurs.
The follicular phase usually lasts 13-14 days, but it can range between 11-21 days.
The ovulatory phase happens when the level of luteinizing hormone rises dramatically.
This stimulates the release of an egg. This phase is short, usually lasting only about 16-32 hours, and ends when the body releases the egg.
The luteal phase begins after ovulation and continues until the beginning of your next period.
It prepares your uterus in case an egg becomes fertilized and implants in the uterine wall.
This phase usually starts around 14 days into your cycle and lasts about 14 days.
Be aware of the fertility period or the fertility window.
This is the time in your menstrual cycle where you are the most likely to get pregnant from having sexual intercourse.
For most women, their fertility window will last about six days.
Keep in mind having intercourse during your fertile period does not guarantee you will conceive.
But your chances of becoming pregnant increase dramatically if you have sex during the 5 days before ovulation and the 24 hours after ovulation.
Healthy, fertile young couples usually have a 20-37% chance of becoming pregnant using this window.
Determine if you have regular periods.
Every woman’s cycle is different and may shift or vary due to external factors like stress.
The best way to determine if your period is regular, in that it occurs every month close to the same time every month, is to chart how long it lasts for three to four months.
Mark your calendar on the first day of your period. Label it Day One.
Then, count each day until your next period arrives.
Keep in mind the average menstrual cycle is 28 days long; however, your cycle may range from 21 to 35 days.
Do this for three to four months.
Note if your cycles are the same length every month.
Check if your periods are irregular.
If after three to four months of tracking your menstrual cycle, no pattern emerges, you may have an irregular period.
This happens to many women and can be due to factors like extreme weight loss, increased physical activity, stress, or a more serious medical issue.
Talk to your doctor if you experience irregular periods to rule out any serious medical conditions.
Women with irregular periods can still track their fertility window, it may just take more time and effort than for women with regular periods.
Speak to your doctor if your period does not occur for 90 days or more and you are not pregnant.
If your periods become irregular after being regular, or you bleed between periods, you should talk to your doctor to ensure you do not have a hormonal disorder, an infection in your reproductive organs, or other health condition.
Determining Your Fertility Window
Use the duration of your menstrual cycle to identify your fertility window.
If your periods are regular, you can identify your fertility window based on how long your period typically lasts.
Your fertility window will be the six days leading up to and including ovulation.
But your most fertile days will be the three days leading up to and including ovulation.
Use the duration of your menstrual cycle to identify your most fertile time by subtracting 14 days from the total length of your menstrual cycle:
28 day periods: If your period typically lasts 28 days, ovulation will occur on day 14 of your cycle.
So your most fertile days will be days 12, 13, and 14.
35 day periods: If you have a longer menstrual cycle, ovulation will occur on day 21 and your most fertile days will be days 19, 20, and 21.
21 day periods: If you have a shorter menstrual cycle, ovulation will occur on day 7 and your most fertile days are days 5, 6, and 7.
If your menstrual cycle is regular, but it does not fall within these periods, you can use an online fertility calculator to determine your fertility window.
All you need is the first day of your last period.
Check your body temperature or use an ovulation predictor kit if you have irregular periods.
If you tend to have irregular periods, or if you feel your period may be off, you can use other methods to determine when you are ovulating:
Keep track of your body temperature. During ovulation, your body temperature will increase.
See if you are experiencing a “thermal shift” by taking your temperature every morning at the same time.
Most women will experience a body temperature shift about half a degree 24 to 48 hours after ovulation.
You can use a regular thermometer or buy a special basal body temperature thermometer.
Get an ovulation predictor kit.
Look for an ovulation predictor kit at your local drugstore.
Though it is a more expensive option that tracking your temperature, it may be a more accurate way of pinpointing when you are ovulating.
This kit will test your urine to determine the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine.
You will need to urinate on tester sticks to find out when your LH levels are rising.
This is a sign that one of your ovaries is about to release an egg, or that you are about to ovulate.
Look for changes in your cervical mucus.
During the time in your cycle before ovulation, your body will produce large quantities of thin, clear cervical mucus.
This substance smooths the way for the sperm to meet the egg.
Right before you start ovulating, you may notice mucus on your underwear or around your vagina.
It will appear clear, stretchy, and slippery, like raw egg whites.
You can collect a sample of your cervical mucus by gently wiping your vaginal opening with a piece of tissue or a clean finger.
If you check for cervical mucus several times on one day and don’t see any mucus, you are likely not in the fertile period of your cycle.
Have sexual intercourse during your fertility window.
Most doctors will advise you to have sex with your partner every day or every other day about five days before ovulation and through to the day after you ovulate.
While sperm can live up to five days inside a woman’s body, an egg’s life span is only 12 to 24 hours, so having intercourse before you ovulate and the day of and the day after you ovulate can maximize your chances of conceiving.
Focus on having intercourse within your fertility window, or three to five days before you ovulate.
If you wait to have intercourse when you have already started ovulating, by the time the sperm enters your body, it may be too late to fertilize your eggs.
If you are under 35 years old and have been having intercourse during your fertility window for 12 months to no avail, or if you are 35 years and older and have been timing intercourse during your fertility window for six months to no avail, you may want to talk to your doctor about a fertility evaluation.
You and your partner can take fertility tests to determine if there are other issues that are preventing you from getting pregnant.