You know all about the birds and the bees, but do you know the scientific process of getting pregnant? The most basic way of putting it is that during your menstrual cycle, your ovaries release an egg. If this egg becomes fertilized with sperm, you become pregnant.
The time that you’re most fertile is two to three days before you ovulate through to the day that ovulation actually occurs. In order to become pregnant, your best bet is to plan sex to occur during this time period in order to have your greatest chance at conception.
If you don’t know when you’re ovulating, there are multiple ways to try and pin down the date. Some methods are simpler, while others are more accurate.
Marking Your Calendar
When you first started getting your periods, did your mother ever make you keep track of them on a calendar? This was to help map out your cycle, and it’s likely you grew accustomed to how your periods fell as you got more and more used to them as you aged. Now you can use a similar method to keep track of your supposed ovulation cycle.
Note: if you have irregular periods, move on to a different method.
In order to make this method work, you must determine the day your period will start. For some women this is relatively simple if they have a period that usually starts on the same day or within a two day window. Other times a woman has to make a guess based on a wider range of days.
When you decide on a day you presume your next period will occur. Now count back 12 days (this will be your ovulation day) and then another three to four (your ovulation window). During this five or four day window should be when you ovulate. This method isn’t scientifically sound but is the easy enough to figure out.
That said, this should not be used on its own, but coupled with the methods described below.
Charting Basal Body Temperature and Cervical Mucus
This method is more accurate, but takes a bit more time and effort than marking your calendar. In order to best predict your ovulation period, you’ll need to track patterns in your body temperature as well as any vaginal discharge you have for two or more period cycles.
For a few days after you ovulate, your basal body temperature rises. What is your basal body temperature? This measure marks your lowest body temperature in a 24 hour period. The change won’t be very significant, but if you measure your temperature every morning with a thermometer you’ll notice that for a couple days there is a 0.2 degree Celsius increase.
You also need to keep track of your cervical mucus. This is simpler – while you’re ovulating, your mucus production changes from very little to a substantial amount. Use this information to predict when your next ovulation day will be.
As ovulation approaches, your cervix softens, and opens to let the sperm up to the egg that was released. You will probably need to get your partner on board for this check, as it’s not very easy for you to see this change.
Ovulation Predictor Kit
This method costs money, but is perhaps the simplest way of confirming your ovulation cycle. Ovulation predictor kits (OPK) work very much like pregnancy tests in that you urinate on the stick included and receive information about your hormone levels. OPKs give a positive result a day or two before you start ovulating, giving you a window to know when you can start planning sex.
However, OPKs can be costly with some ranging about USD 50.- for one kit. Your best option is to use an above method to determine a rough estimate, then only purchase one or two OPKs to test or perfect your results.
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