Trying to get pregnant? It’s not just the Will of God, but also the right timing of sexual intercourse and a good reproductive health (of both men and women) that plays a role in conceiving. Being able to predict ovulation time and determining the fertile period can be challenging for most women. Knowing your body and using the right tools can prove to be very fruitful for a couple which is trying to conceive.
Ovulation is the process when the ovaries release mature eggs into the fallopian tube where they can be fertilized by an incoming sperm. Ovulation is the most fertile time of the menstrual cycle. It usually happens two weeks before the next menstruation starts.
The life of an egg after ovulation is only 12-24 hours and it is important that the sperm reaches the egg during that time period. However, the lifespan of a viable sperm, inside a woman’s body, can range from 3-7 days. 100 million sperms are released in one act of ejaculation, so the possibility of a sperm fertilizing the egg is very high if sexual intercourse takes place during the “fertile window” of the menstrual cycle. The fertile window starts 6 days before expected ovulation.
Track Your Fertile Window:
- Length of Menstrual Cycle: 30 days (first day of menstruation is the first day of the cycle)
- Expected Ovulation Date: 16th day (two weeks before next menstruation)
- Fertile Window: 11-17th (14, 15 and 16 being the most fertile time)
We all know that menstrual cycles vary from woman to woman, some ranging from 21 days to others lasting 35 days. Some women even experience irregular cycles every month, so it becomes very hard to predict the time of ovulation and the fertile period. That’s when you can perform ovulation tests using ovulation kits and fertility monitors to predict your fertile window.
Ovulation Predictor Kit (OPK):
Ovulation kits use test strips that are able to tell the date of your ovulation a few days in advance. They are similar to pregnancy predictor kits using ovulation test strips which are either dipped into urine or held in midstream while urinating. A positive ovulation test means the test strip has detected a spike in the levels of Leutenizing hormone or LH in the body, which rises right before ovulation. That means ovulation is most likely to occur within 24-72 hours.
- Subtract 17 from length of your menstrual cycle (eg 30-17=13) and start testing with your ovulation kit from this day of the cycle.
- Test twice a day i.e. every 12 hours till you get a positive ovulation test. For greater success, test about the same time each day.
- Reduce your liquid intake 2-4 hours before testing. Dilute urine can give an invalid result.
- Dip the test strip in urine or hold it midstream during urination. Let stand for five minutes.
- The test line has to be darker or same color as control line for it to be positive.
- A positive ovulation test means you are going to ovulate within 24-72 hours.
- You can even use the digital version First Response Ovulation Test that has a one-month supply of test sticks and a digital reader that remembers your personal LH hormone level and provides unmistakable YES/NO results in words.
After a Positive Ovulation Test:
Have sexual intercourse right away!
It is best to start trying to conceive actively 12-24 hours before ovulation test is positive. The sperm, that is introduced into the vagina days before the optimum ovulation time, have a better chance of fertilizing the egg rather than the sperm that is introduced during ovulation.
It is a misconception that sperms reach their destination within minutes of ejaculation. It can take hours even days for the sperm to make its journey through the vagina to the egg. That is why it is recommended to have sex regularly during the fertile period so as to avoid missing the chance of conceiving.
A fertlity monitor is the answer to women who have irregular menstrual cycles, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and other reproductive disorders. It measures electrolyte levels in the saliva and cervical mucus that are impacted by estrogen. It can accurately predict ovulation up to 7 days in advance and also confirm it at the time of ovulation.
How to use fertility monitors?
- Simply place the oral sensor on your tongue and record a reading of the electrolyte resistance in your saliva. The monitor will track trends in these readings, looking to identify a specific trend that marks the beginning of your fertile window. Do this daily.
- Once this trend is detected, your fertility calendar will indicate low to peak fertility providing 5-7 days notice of ovulation in advance.
- The monitor of the vaginal sensor tracks trends in the vaginal readings to determine when your body switches from estrogen dominance to progesterone dominance, the clue it uses to confirm that ovulation has occurred.
- As you move towards the fertile window, the monitor will continue recording the trend till your fertility calendar indicates “ovulation confirmed”.
- These monitors not only keep track of your current cycle day and fertility status but also stores readings of previous months.
Other ways of predicting ovulation:
- Another option is a saliva test, which detects levels of estrogen in your saliva as ovulation nears. When you’re ovulating, a look at the saliva under the test’s eyepiece will reveal a microscopic pattern that resembles the leaves of a fern plant. Not all women get a good “fern,” but this test is reusable and cheaper.
- There are also devices that detect the numerous salts (chloride, sodium, potassium) in a woman’s sweat, which change during different times of the month. Called the chloride ion surge, this shift happens even before the estrogen and the LH surge, so these tests give a woman a four-day warning of when she may be ovulating.
- Basal body temperature (BBT) charting is a tried and tested method for determining when you ovulate. BBT is the temperature at which your body rests, which tends to be a bit lower than the normal 98.6 F. By measuring BBT each morning (after a full night’s sleep), you can detect the natural and subtle rise in your basal body temperature that occurs just after ovulation. This post-ovulatory shift in BBT is caused by increased production of the hormone progesterone, sometimes referred to as the “warming hormone”. The iBasal Thermometer has a built in alarm clock to remind you to take temperature each morning.
Beware of False Positive Ovulation Test:
Although ovulation and pregnancy go hand in hand, there are other factors to be considered when a couple is trying to conceive. Problems with hormonal imbalances leading to anovulatory cycles and premature follicular rupture can effect the ability to become pregnant even if you are having intercourse during your most fertile time.
Some women may have an LH surge without releasing an egg. This condition is known as Luteinized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome (LUFS). Other women may experience false small peaks in the LH hormone before it fully peaks, commonly seen in women with PCOS. This could mislead too.
Most ovulation tests are 99% accurate but these tests cannot guarantee that viable egg will actually be released after a day or two. Consult your doctor if you have been trying for several months without success.
No matter which device or method you choose, patience and persistence is the key. And do not forget a candlelit dinner or a romantic weekend getaway that can put you and your partner in a baby-making mood!