If you are trying to conceive, one of the first strategies is to make sure you are having sex around ovulation time, so that the egg can be fertilised. These few days a month when you can get pregnant are your ‘fertile window’.
The best time to conceive is during the fertile window which are the days each month when you can get pregnant. These are around 6 days every month: the day of ovulation (once the egg is released, it survives around 12-24h), plus the 5 days before (healthy sperm survives up to 5 days inside the female reproductive tract).
There are several ways of tracking ovulation, from measuring temperature, noticing cervical mucus or measuring LH. Overall, these methods can be classified into:
If you are trying to conceive, a method that identifies ovulation before it happens is more useful because once ovulation has happened, you only have a few more hours to get pregnant. Let’s look at some common methods and see which ones identify ovulation before it happens.
Temperature fluctuates due to hormonal variations in the menstrual cycle. The basal body temperature method relies on a woman measuring her temperature every morning before any activity. It can be most commonly measured orally, rectally, and vaginally.
There is a decrease in basal body temperature that occurs around the fertile window (peak in oestrogen) and is followed by an increase in basal body temperature after ovulation (rise in progesterone). Because one cannot identify the lowest temperature point until the subsequent rise is seen, it means we can only see if ovulation has occurred, after it has occurred. For this reason, tracking basal body temperature is a retrospective method.
Because it only indicates ovulation once it has already happened, basal body temperature is not the most appropriate method to time sex to achieve a pregnancy. If your cycles are very regular, some algorithms may predict the next ovulation with some degree of certainty, but it is never certain until it actually happens.
The basal body temperature method also presents other challenges:
Even though tracking temperature is not the most effective method to identify your fertile window, it can be useful to indicate if you may be pregnant. When the temperature rise that happens with ovulation lasts 18 or more days, it can be an early indicator of pregnancy.
Throughout your menstrual cycle, the amount and quality of cervical mucus that is produced fluctuates. By tracking and noticing these changes, you can begin to understand your most fertile days.
Tracking cervical mucus can help you identify your fertile window but it also requires a high degree of compliance, with the need to insert your finger in the vagina every morning and learn about the changes in your cervical mucus.
When the body’s levels of luteinizing hormone increase, it triggers the start of ovulation, and the most fertile period of the menstrual cycle occurs. Because this happens before ovulation, this is a prospective method that can detect ovulation ahead of time, giving you 24-48h for timed intercourse before ovulation.
The best way to track LH is through urine sticks. Most monitors will keep a record of your values and indicate when you start your fertile window.
There are several methods that you can use to track ovulation, but the best methods are the ones that tell you when ovulation is happening ahead of time, giving you the best chances of timing sex for conception. Choosing a prospective method like LH monitoring is more likely to give you an accurate result and increase your chances of natural conception. Book a free phone consultation here to discuss your fertility and how to track ovulation. The consultation is with the awarded Nurse Consultant and NLP Coach Andreia Trigo, creator of the Enhanced Fertility Programme. It’s never too late to start your fertility support plan, why not start today?
About Andreia Trigo
Andreia Trigo RN BSc MSc is the founder of the Enhanced Fertility Programme, multi-awarded nurse consultant, fertility coach, author and TEDx speaker. Combining her fourteen-year medical experience, CBT, NLP and her own eighteen-year infertility journey, she has developed unique strategies to help people undergoing similar challenges achieve their reproductive goals. The Enhanced Fertility Programme is helping people worldwide and has been awarded Best Innovation in Business 2018 and E-Business of 2018.