Are you hoping to hold your own little bundle of joy soon? Trying to get pregnant can be a lot of fun, but for many couples it can be frustrating too.
Fertility is the result of many factors coming together at one time. Knowing the basics can help you make changes that could increase your chances of conceiving.
During ovulation, an egg is released into the fallopian tube. Sperm must come in contact with the egg within 24-48 hours for pregnancy to take place. If the egg is not fertilized, menstruation will usually occur in about 2 weeks. Tracking your menstrual cycle will help you determine your best chance for pregnancy.
A woman's menstrual cycle starts from the first day of her period to the first day of her next period. It is usually 23-35 days long. Although ovulation can be irregular, it typically occurs 12-16 days before the start of your next menstrual period. For example, in a 28-day cycle, ovulation often occurs on the 14th day.
Because ovulations may be irregular a calendar tracking may not work for you. The following methods can also help you determine when you are fertile:
Rise in Basal Body Temperature
Right after ovulation, many women have an increase in basal (early morning) body temperature. It may increase about 0.5°F-1.6°F. By taking and recording your temperature every morning before rising, you should note a pattern over the next few cycles. Plan to have intercourse during the 2-3 days before your temperature normally rises. The downside of this method is that you must be vigilant in taking and recording your temperature every day for several months.
Keep in mind that drinking or smoking and poor sleep patterns can have an effect on your basal body temperature.
You may be able to determine ovulation by observing changes in your body. One change is that your cervical mucus becomes clear, slippery, stretchy, (similar to raw egg whites) on the days before ovulation. This mucus helps to increase the movement of the sperm through the uterus to the fallopian tubes where it meets the egg.
Some women also experience discomfort, achiness, or twinges of pain in the lower abdomen during ovulation. The discomfort may last for a few minutes or several hours.
Ovulation Test Kits
Easy-to-use kits for determining ovulation are available in many stores. They involve urinating on test strips which change color when you are ovulating. The changes are caused by hormones specific to ovulation. Accuracy varies depending on the product, so try different ones to see which one is more accurate for you.
Increasing Your Chances of Conceiving
Understanding ovulation is just one factor in pregnancy. If you are trying to get pregnant, keep these factors in mind:
- Frequent intercourse will increase your chance of getting pregnant during your fertile period. It will not decrease male fertility.
- Lubricants can slow sperm motility. You may want to avoid their use if you are trying to conceive.
- Use a combination of all these methods.
- It may be more difficult to conceive in the first few months after stopping the use of birth control.
- Lifestyle factors can effect your ability to conceive. Avoid smoking. If you are overweight, consider losing weight. Reduce stress.
- Increased age can affect fertility.
Remember that even if conceiving your previous child was easy, it does not mean that future pregnancies will be easy to achieve. Knowing your how your body responds to hormonal changes can increase the chances putting you on the road to a healthy pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are planning on becoming pregnant.
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Women's Health—Department of Health and Human Services
Women's Health Matters
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Last reviewed October 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 12/9/2014