In one of my last blogs about “Preconception Care,” I was talking about “Track Your Cycle” which is one of the vital steps if you are planning your pregnancy. A woman has an average cycle of 28 days, wherein most women will ovulate around 10 to 16 days before the start of their next menstrual period. A woman is able to become pregnant (fertile) only during a particular part of her monthly cycle. That is just before and during ovulation. By learning when you ovulate, you can predict when you’re likely to be fertile. But, if you have irregular periods then it might get a little tricky to find out your ovulation date. There are different options to track your ovulation and like most women who are planning their pregnancy would try all the methods.
But first try and understand what is Ovulation and its importance?.
WHAT IS OVULATION AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT IN GETTING PREGNANT?
Ovulation is a part of your menstrual cycle. It occurs when an egg (ovum) is released from an ovary; sometimes more than one egg is released from the ovaries.
When the egg is released, it may or may not be fertilized by sperm. If fertilized, the egg may travel to the uterus and implant to develop into a pregnancy. If the egg does not become fertilized, the lining of the uterus is shed during menstruation.
For fertilization to occur, sperm must reach the egg within a specific time frame. Sperm can survive for up to 3-5 days after ejaculation, but the egg can survive for no more than 24 hours after ovulation inside a Woman’s reproductive tract.
So a woman can become pregnant if an egg is fertilized by sperm within 12 to 24 hours of ovulation, it’s possible to conceive if you have sex any time from about a week before ovulation to 24 hours afterward. But a woman is most fertile from about 5 days before ovulation to the day of ovulation – sometimes called the fertile window.
Understanding how ovulation happens and when it takes place can help you achieve or prevent pregnancy. Women who are planning to have a baby will spend a lot of time understanding their ovulation to become pregnant. This might be one of the reasons you would be reading this blog.
Below are several ways by which you can predict your ovulation.
Ovulation Calendar Calculator:
There are lots of websites which offer you a free ovulation calculator which would work if you have regular periods (Regular periods mean having a period every 21 to 35 days). For women with the monthly menstrual cycle, it’s the best, simple, accurate and free of cost fertility calculator. You can use it to become pregnant as it can tell you the exact dates on which there is a higher chance of getting pregnant. This calculator gives approximate ovulation dates and fertile times for women who have regular periods. You don’t have to enter complicated values in the free ovulation test calculator and it is easy way to track your ovulation.
More specifically, this ovulation day calculator will show the peak time of fertility to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Physical Signs of Ovulation:
Apart from the ovulation calendar calculator, there are physical signs and symptoms of ovulation which you might notice and estimate the time of your ovulation (fertile days). These ovulation symptoms are:
- Ovulation Pain: some women might experience sudden constant lower abdominal pain, just inside the hip bone typically occurring about two weeks before the menstrual period is due. Pain felt on the right or left side, depending on which ovary is releasing an egg.
- Basal Body Temperature (BBT): Your body temperature dips a bit just before your ovary releases an egg. After ovulation or when your ovary releases the egg, your progesterone levels increase in your body, due to which your body temperature rises slightly and stays up for several days. The increase in temperature is the sign that ovulation has just occurred. Tracking your basal body temperature accurately over a few months can help you predict when ovulation is going to happen.
Cervical Mucus: Immediately prior to ovulation, most women usually detect increased vaginal cervical mucus which is more transparent and thinner with a more slippery consistency similar to that of egg whites. You may be able to stretch the fluid an inch or more between your fingers. The texture and pH of this mucus are protective for sperm. For this reason, if you’re trying to conceive, have sex on ovulating days.
Ovulation Spotting: Some females have mid-cycle spotting, it’s light bleeding that occurs around the time that you ovulate, and this is due to ovulation.
- Breast Tenderness And Sensitivity: Tender breasts or sore nipples can be another sign of ovulation. The pain continues until the start of their menstrual cycle.
- Increased Sexual Drive: Feeling sexually aroused in the days leading up to your period is perfectly normal. Several studies have found a rise in sexual desire near ovulation time as your estrogen and testosterone levels increase during ovulation, potentially triggering a surge in libido.
Signs and Symptoms of Ovulation and What Does Your Menstrual Cycle Indicates About Your FERTILITY
Ovulation Predictor Kit (OPKs):
Ovulation test strips or ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) are urine-based at-home tests you can use to determine when you’re ovulating. Ovulation kits look for a rise in the luteinizing hormone (LH), which causes women to ovulate and release an egg. The kit detects the surge in LH in the urine and tells you when you may be approaching ovulation. The stick ovulation tests are similar to pregnancy tests. The analysis predicts ovulation based on LH concentrations in urine. They show lines, and one of the lines is a control line. If the second line is as dark or darker than the first line, that indicates you will soon ovulate.
Some digital ovulation tests tell you ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the window. It may use words or images, such as smiley faces, to say to you that you will soon be ovulating.
If taken correctly, ovulation tests are approximately 99% accurate in detecting the LH surge that precedes ovulation. However, these tests cannot confirm whether ovulation actually occurs a day or two later. Some women may have a rise in the LH hormone without releasing an egg.
Some of the tips you can follow to use your ovulation detection kit properly are:
- Do not collect your wee early morning as it is in concentrated form and may give false results.
- Try to collect your urine sample at about the same time each day and urinate into a sterile container.
- Try to reduce the number of fluids you drink for about 2 hours before you use the ovulation tracker kit, as excessive fluids will dilute your urine, which will make it challenging to detect your LH surge
- Read the results on the test card within ten minutes. A positive effect will not vanish. But some negative results after some time may display a faint second color band. (Follow the instructions on the package)
- Throw the test stick once you have read the result. It is not meant for reuse.
Ovulation predictor kits can be used alongside other methods of ovulation detecting, like BBT charting. This can give you more assurance and help you get to know your body better.
You may want to use an ovulation predictor kit when you just start fertility charting for added confidence. Once you get the hang of charting your BBT and cervical mucus, you can drop the expensive ovulation test strips.
A Lot of women start feeling anxious because you want to get pregnant quickly, especially if it is their first pregnancy, which may give you stress, and taking stress is not at all good if you are trying for a baby and can further delay your chances of getting pregnant. So stop taking the stress and use the above methods to help you to identify your most fertile days; you can use any of the above methods or probably all three if you can or want, and should record these dates on your calendar because you are most fertile when you are ovulating and your chances to get pregnant increases.