Ovulation is the release of an egg, or ovum, from the ovary, which commonly happens approximately two weeks into the menstrual cycle. After the egg is released, it travels through the fallopian tube into the uterus.
If you have shorter than a 28 day cycle, or a week or more longer than a 28 day cycle, you will ovulate at a different time, usually 12 to 14 days before a period. So, learning what your individual cycles are like is very important for determining when you ovulate. More information about different cycle lengths can be found on the Fertility Friend website.
How does ovulation play a role in getting pregnant?
In order to get pregnant, a man's sperm fertilizes an egg. This is commonly done through the act of intercourse. While it is not necessary to have intercourse exactly at the moment you ovulate, there is only a narrow window around the date of ovulation when it is possible to get pregnant.
How much time after I ovulate do I have to get pregnant?
There is a four-day window around the time of ovulation when you are most apt to get pregnant. Since sperm can live in the female reproductive tract up to 120 hours, intercourse resulting in conception can happen anytime from two days prior to when you ovulate to two days after. However, intercourse on the day of ovulation and the following day are recommended to maximize the chance of conception.
How do I know when I am ovulating?
The female body provides clues to when you will ovulate. Signs of ovulation include:
- Increased basal body temperature (BBT);
- Increased production of luteinizing hormones (LH);
- Increased libido or cramping;
- Thinning of the cervical mucus.
To test your BBT, you will need to chart your body temperature daily. Take your temperature orally, rectally, or vaginally each morning prior to getting out of bed. From the time your period begins until you ovulate, your temperature will vary between 97.2 degrees F and 97.6 degrees F, but from the time of ovulation until your next menstruation begins, your BBT will typically raise as much as one degree.
Ovulation prediction kits are used to test the LH level in your urine. These kits can be purchased over-the-counter at most pharmacies and online. Typically, your urine will show an increased LH level 24 to 36 hours prior to when you ovulate.
The cervical mucus thins as the result of a higher level of estrogen present in the body immediately prior to ovulation. While it is common for mucus to be present between periods, it is apt to increase in quantity and be more elastic in consistency. Many women refer to this thin cervical mucus as having the consistency of egg whites.
I've been charting my BBT for several months now, but still can't get pregnant. Is something wrong with me?
Many factors play into successfully conceiving a baby, including the man's sperm count, your overall health and the health of your female organs, medications you may be taking, and physical and emotional stress. If you have concerns about your ability to ovulate or conceive, discuss them with your OB health professional; however, it is not uncommon for a couple to try to get pregnant for a year before they are successful.
Getting Pregnant Can Take Time
Deciding to have a baby is a big decision and even though it may seem like anyone can get pregnant, sometimes it takes care timing and persistence to successfully conceive.