Getting pregnant quicker depends on making sure sperm meet egg at the right time in your cycle. And there are several ways to determine exactly when that is.
When you’re trying to get pregnant, timing is everything. Perfect eggs and flawless sperm are useless if they don’t connect. To make that happen, sex has to occur on the day of ovulation (when the ripened egg is released from the ovary), or a few days before (because sperm can live in the female reproductive tract for several days). Miss the dates and you’ve missed your chance . . . at least for that cycle.
You can have sex every other day throughout your cycle to make sure you get the timing right. Or, if the idea of sex that frequently every month (after month) isn’t appealing, you can learn how to pinpoint your fertile days and time your sex accordingly. There are several ways to determine the date. Read on and choose the one you think will work best for you.
Chart your cycle
One of the most common misconceptions about fertility is that every woman ovulates and is most fertile on day 14 of her cycle. But that’s only true in women who have a perfect, regular 28-day cycle. In fact, it’s actually not 14 days after menstruation begins that ovulation occurs, but usually14 days before. So if you have a very regular cycle, you can estimate your date of ovulation by subtracting two weeks from the date of your next expected period. For example: A woman with a regular 30-day cycle probably ovulates around day 16, and someone with a regular 26-day cycle probably ovulates around day 12.
Take your temperature
Charting your basal body temperature (BBT)—your morning body temperature before you get out of bed—is another way to pinpoint ovulation. A woman’s normal, non-ovulating temperature is between 96 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit, but following the release of an egg, BBT increases by about half a degree, and remains slightly elevated until right before menstruation. If you chart BBT for a few cycles, it may help you to predict ovulation if your cycle is regular. Unfortunately, BBT isn’t the best way to time sexual intercourse for conception. By the time your BBT rises, there’s little fertile time left to conceive. If you’re interested in charting your BBT, you’ll need to buy a special thermometer—inexpensive and widely available in drugstores-- that measures temperature in tenths of degrees.
Use a fertility monitor
If your cycle tends to be irregular, over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits can help you pinpoint your fertile phase. Most of these kits, widely available in drugstores, use your morning urine to measure luteinizing hormone, which surges right before ovulation. Much like a pregnancy test, you urinate on a small stick, which indicates when you are close to ovulation. (Another kind of fertility monitor measures the estrogen in saliva, and still another checks for increasing amounts of chloride in sweat.)
Check your cervical mucus
There’s one more body fluid that can give you insight into your cycle, and you can check it without the use of any special devices: cervical mucus (CM). You may have to get over the “ick” factor, but it’s free and surprisingly accurate. You can examine these secretions by feel or appearance—in your underwear or on a piece of toilet paper— to find out where you are in your cycle. For a few days after your period, your cervical fluid may be dry or sticky, then it starts to get wetter. When it becomes slippery and stretchy--almost like a raw egg white--that’s when you’re most fertile.
Take your pick—low-tech or high, all of these methods will help you identify the most fertile phase in your cycle. Once you figure out when, you know what to do from there!
--Beth Weinhouse, Editorial Director, Conceive
Get more information on getting pregnant from Conceive Magazine.
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