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Have you and your partner decided that it’s time to start a family? This is a very exciting time! For many couples, pregnancy happens easily – about 85% of couples conceive within a year. For other couples, the road to conception is longer. All couples can benefit from knowing more about the best times to try to get pregnant.
We’re taught that menstrual cycles are 28 days long, but that’s not true for every woman. Some women’s cycles are as short as 21 days, and some are as long as 35. In addition, many women don’t have the same cycle length every month. Actual days of bleeding can be two to seven days, and this can vary monthly in each individual woman, too.
Ovulation is the process of one of your ovaries releasing an egg into one of your fallopian tubes. Although you have two ovaries, typically only one of them releases an egg each month. The timing of ovulation varies from woman to woman, and from month to month in each individual woman. The average timing is about halfway between the end of your period and the start of your next one.
Needless to say, the amount of variation in menstrual cycles and ovulation timing makes it difficult to predict when your window of fertility will occur. Your peak window of fertility is about three days before ovulation, ending on the day that you ovulate. During this period of time, your body provides optimal conditions for sperm survival, making it possible for your partner’s sperm to survive inside of you for three to five days. Your best shot at conception is to have sex several times during your window of fertility. For many women, this window falls about 14 days after the start of their periods (or seven days after the end of their periods, assuming they bleed for a full seven days).
There are three popular ways to monitor your fertility. If you’ve tried one but not the others, it could be worth your while to branch out.
Some women use the calendar as their primary method of estimating their window of fertility. This can work well for women who have the typical 28-day menstrual cycle because they can plan on their window of fertility starting on about day 14. For women whose cycles vary, or who ovulate earlier or later in their cycles than most women, this method won’t be as successful.
Using the Fertility Awareness Method, women can track their windows of peak fertility by measuring their basal body temperatures each morning, monitoring cervical fluid, and tracking other signs of ovulation, like mild abdominal pain and heightened libido. There are a variety of apps and calendars available to help you keep track of your body’s signals and interpret when you’re most fertile.
Some women report success using an ovulation predictor kit. These kits help you pinpoint your most fertile window of time by measuring changes in your urine or saliva. You can find ovulation predictor kits in most pharmacies, and they can also be ordered online. The Clearblue Ovulation Test is a particularly well-known one.
Did you know that there are life changes you can make that may boost your fertility? Consider making some of these adjustments:
What happens if you’re following all of the fertility advice and you’re still not getting pregnant? If you’re under 35 and you’ve been trying for a year to get pregnant without success, it’s wise for you and your partner to both pay a visit to your doctor to find out what might be getting in your way. If you’re over 35 and you’ve been trying for six months, don’t wait a full year – go ahead and schedule a doctor’s appointment.
If you have irregular periods that vary widely in timing and length, you may want to pay a visit to your doctor before you begin trying to get pregnant. Irregular periods not only make it difficult to figure out when you’re fertile, but they can also be an indication of some other underlying issues, like a thyroid disorder or polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Following these guidelines to boost your fertility and find your peak window for conception can boost your chances of getting pregnant more quickly. Of course, some couples don’t like to get stressed out over planning, and it’s perfectly fine to just have sex as usual, minus the birth control. If you find that you’re having trouble conceiving, make sure to visit your doctor.