Want to boost your chances of getting pregnant? It’s a good idea to track when you ovulate.
Ovulation occurs when hormones from the pituitary gland stimulate the ovaries to release an egg. Once the egg is released, it travels to one of the fallopian tubes.
To conceive, sexual intercourse must happen during the period spanning one to two days before ovulation to about 24 hours afterward.
The reason? While sperm cells can live for two or three days, an egg can't survive for more than 24 hours after ovulation unless fertilization occurs.
Here are four best practices to track when you're ovulating:
1) Keep an eye on the calendar
For several months, use a calendar to mark the day your period begins. That’s the first day of each menstrual cycle.
Women with regular 28-day cycles can count 14 days from the first day of their period to determine their ovulation date. For women with a 32-day cycle, they probably ovulate on about the 18th day of their cycle.
2) Track your basal body temperature (your body’s temperature at rest)
Ovulation can cause a slight increase in basal body temperature. Take your temperature every morning before getting out of bed and plot the readings on a spreadsheet.
A pattern might eventually emerge. Women are the most fertile during the two to three days before their temperature rises. The increase will be subtle, typically less than 1 degree Fahrenheit.
Don't rely on this alone as basal body temperature can be thrown off by a number of things, such as illness.
3) Use a home ovulation predictor kit
A home ovulation predictor kit tests the amount of luteinizing hormone in urine. The LH surge is useful in predicting when ovulation will occur during any given cycle. A positive test for any cycle means you're ovulating.
In general, these kits are very accurate and effective. One drawback could be the cost. At $20-$30 per kit, it’s cheaper to take your temperature.
4) Watch for change in cervical mucus secretions
"It's not as reliable as a kit," says Sandra Carson, M.D., professor of ob-gyn at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston told Parenting.com, "but it doesn't cost anything."
This method involves checking mucus secretions for a few months until a pattern emerges. Estrogen causes mucus to thin after your period. However, rising levels of progesterone right after ovulation make it thicken.
Many women compare mucus at this stage to raw egg whites.Once you pinpoint when you ovulate, you can plan to have sexual intercourse several times leading up to that day.
There are some drawbacks to this method. It could be inconvenient. It could also be inaccurate since factors such as nursing and medication, even fertility drugs, can dry up mucus.
"5 Tips for Getting Pregnant." Parenting. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
"Detecting Ovulation: How to Tell When You're Fertile | BabyCenter." BabyCenter. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
"Getting Pregnant." How to Get Pregnant. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
"Maximize Fertility: Monitoring Ovulation." - For Dummies. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
Reviewed March 11, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith