If you are trying to conceive, one of the most important factors to understand is when is the optimum time each month for conception to occur. A pregnancy can only happen when a woman is ovulating, so by pinpointing the few days when ovulation is naturally occurring, is the first step to a successful pregnancy outcome.
Learning how to keep track of your menstrual cycle is, therefore, a priority and will help you determine your ovulation or fertile window. Here are some facts on ovulation and tips for calculating your fertile window.
What is ovulation?
Ovulation occurs when the ovaries release a mature egg for fertilisation and is the stage of a woman’s menstrual cycle where she is most likely to conceive. While females are born with their lifetime supply of eggs at birth, usually only one egg is released each month; however, on rare occasions, more than one egg can be released and if fertilised results in fraternal twins or more.
When do you ovulate?
The average length of a woman’s menstrual cycle is 28 days, though this can vary between 21-35 days. Ovulation starts the second phase of the menstrual cycle. The four phases are:
- The Follicular Phase – where follicles in the ovaries begin to mature and develop an egg. This phase starts from the first day of your period and ends when ovulation occurs
- Ovulation – The mature egg is released from the ovary. Post ovulation the egg may have good potential to be fertilised for 12-24 hours. Sperm may survive in good condition inside a woman’s Fallopian tubes for up to 48 hours. If conditions are ideal then fertilisation of the egg by the sperm can occur.
- The Luteal Phase – The lining of the uterus will thicken to provide nutrition for a possible embryo. This phase generally lasts 12-14 days but can be anywhere from 7-17 days.
- Menstruation – This is usually a sign that pregnancy did not occur. The lining of the uterus is eliminated. The average menstruation or period lasts 3-7 days. To learn more visit our fertility window page.
Signs of ovulation
You can track your menstrual cycle to pinpoint when you are ovulating by counting back 12-16 days from the date your next period is due. Some women use Apps on their phones to track their cycle and determine their window of fertility. You can also download our Fertility Awareness Calendar to track your menstrual cycle.
During ovulation, you might experience some physical signs. Some signs to look out for include:
- Cervical mucus will increase and become clear and slippery
- Your body temperature will increase and can be monitored by a basal body temperature thermometer from the chemist
- You might feel mild pain or discomfort in your abdomen and lower back, similar to period pain
- You might also experience an increase in sexual desire, breast tenderness, and headaches.
When are you most fertile?
You’re most fertile during the few days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation, as this is when the egg has been released into the fallopian tube and is ready for fertilisation. You should take advantage of this window of fertility by having unprotected sex every day or every second day. This will give you the greatest chance of achieving conception. The egg can survive for up to 24 hours after ovulation, while sperm can survive for up to two days and fertilise an egg in the fallopian tubes.
Watch Dr Anne Poliness’s video for further advice.
Please note: This video may not be copied or used, in whole or in part, without the prior written permission of City Fertility Centre © 2017.
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