Becoming pregnant can be difficult for a great deal of women. With the help of the many tools out there available to you, you can remedy these difficulties and be on your way to a successful pregnancy.
Why It’s Important to Track Your Ovulation
Ovulation and pregnancy go hand in hand. Implantation during ovulation leads to a pregnancy. Becoming aware of your fertility cycle is the first step to pregnancy. Every woman’s fertility cycle is unique, and therefore fertility awareness begins with monitoring your menstrual cycle and being attentive to ovulation symptoms.
The best time to conceive is during ovulation or the 1-2 days prior to it. The newly released egg is fertile for 12-24 hours, and therefore it is essential that you get into the routine of knowing your cycle intimately. The window of opportunity is small so inform yourself on some of the methods of ovulation prediction.
Symptoms of Ovulation
Look to your body for some natural signs of ovulation. These include changes in cervical mucus and ovulation pains.
You will experience changes in the frequency and consistency of your cervical mucus throughout your menstrual cycle. The cervical mucus serves to provide an environment that the semen can easily move up the uterus in. Therefore, the most advantageous consistency for a sperm to move through is a slippery texture-something like raw egg white. This texture should be noticed at the time of ovulation. Read more on Monitoring your Cervical Mucus.
Ovulation signs include pains, or Mittelschmerz, which occur before, during or after the ovulation period in your menstrual cycle. The pain is centered around your lower right abdomen, and may last anywhere from a few hours to days. Although these can alert you to the occurrence of ovulation, you should not rely primarily on these pains to help you conceive. Ovulation pains can be used as a secondary fertility sign-that is, taken with the many other symptoms of ovulation, these pains will create a more accurate representation of your fertility.
Basal Body Temperature
Charting your basal body temperature (BBT) will let you chart the higher temperatures your body experiences before and during ovulation, and will therefore help you plot your days of ovulation.
Using a thermometer specially designated for measuring basal body temperature, take a reading at the beginning of each day, right after you get out of bed. Try to take the temperature around the same time each day-setting an alarm might help you be more accurate in your readings. Some basal thermometers will even beep to indicate a peak temperature reading.
Once you have a reading, record it on your ovulation chart. Temperatures will be affected by consumption of alcohol, smoking cigarettes and a fever or the flu; therefore be sure to take note of possible third variables affecting your temperature. A rise in temperature of .4 to 1.0 degrees following several days will indicate that your ovulation time is at hand. Studying these ovulation charts will help you notice patterns in your menstrual cycle and help you facilitate conception.
An ovulation calendar allows you to understand your ovulation cycle, optimize your chances of getting pregnant and can indicate your baby’s estimated due date. A woman can also use the ovulation calender (sic) to help avoid pregnancy without the use of birth control.
An ovulation calandar (sic), otherwise referred to as an ovulation calculator, is most useful for women whose menstrual cycles are regular. They work simply by entering the first day of your last menstrual period and the length of that cycle. With this information, most ovulation calendars will show your range of fertility, at what dates pregnancy tests can be used, and if you are pregnant, when your baby’s due date will be.
Ovulation Predictor Kits
Technology has given us an array of tests to turn to when trying to discover our ovulation time.
Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPK) can be used during the middle of your cycle, approximately around ovulation to determine its exact passing. OPKs work by measuring the level of leutenizing hormone (LH) in your urine. Before ovulation, you will notice a spike in LH. The rise in LH occurs approximately 36 hours before ovulation. Now is the perfect time to conceive.
Ovulation test strips are easy to use and are highly sensitive. In fact, they can give you more than 99% accuracy in terms of predicting ovulation. The best time to use these tests is between 2 and 8 p.m. First morning pee is not recommended. Having intercourse the day of the LH spike and the two days after should help ensure a successful pregnancy. In case of late ovulation, continue intercourse to three days after the LH spike.
Ovulation Microscopes or Saliva Tests
Just as the cervical mucus changes during ovulation, so does your saliva. Ovulation microscopes test your saliva to help indicate your most fertile time of month. During ovulation, the rise in estrogen increases the salinity of your saliva. This changes the construction of your saliva and forms crystalline structures that can be seen through an ovulation microscope.
Test saliva first thing in the morning, before drinking water, brushing teeth or eating. A saliva sample is collected by swabbing the tongue and is then placed on a microscope lens. Record the results in your fertility chart. Unlike Ovulation Predictor Kits, an ovulation microscope records the gradual changes in your saliva to render a dynamic chart of fertility. It marks the transitional phase of your menstrual cycle-that is, when your body is preparing itself for ovulation. This allows you to assess the nuances of your menstrual cycle. For this reason, ovulation microscopes are perfect for women whose menstrual cycles are irregular.
Naturally, using a combination of ovulation testing methods or products is the best way to get a comprehensive picture of your fertility. This in turn will help lead you to a successful pregnancy.
Revision date: June 21, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD