If you’re trying to get pregnant there’s nothing more important for you to do than start to learn when your body is most fertile. As your menstrual cycle progresses, your chances of getting pregnant naturally and successfully get better and worse – knowing the right time to try (your fertile window) improves the odds of you getting pregnant when you want to.
Today we’re taking a look at how you can tell when you’re fertile, to help you approach pregnancy with confidence.
What is a Fertile Window?
Your fertile window is that short stretch of days when the lifespan of the mature, fertile egg ejected from your ovaries overlaps with the lifespan of sperm in the body after ejaculation. With an egg lasting for between twelve and twenty-four hours after ovulation and sperm surviving as long as five days, this gives you a potential fertile window of around six days per cycle, or less depending on your health and the health of your eggs, and the sperm you’re relying on to fertilise them!
Telling if you’re fertile means finding out when your ‘fertile window’ is, and that means pinning down the date you’re due to ovulate.
Your body changes in several ways when it approaches the point of ovulation. Interpreting these changes can help you identify when you’re fertile, but it will take more than a simple ovulation calculator to get to the answer! Those basic tools are all very well if you fit the average profile they’re made for but not if you differ from that average in any way – and of course, a significant number of people, if not a majority, do.
One simple method is to examine your cervical mucus – this substance changes as your cycle approaches the point at which you ovulate. It’s normally a barrier to prevent foreign objects getting into your uterus, but to conceive successfully, sperm have to get through this barrier, so when you ovulate it becomes thinner. By checking on it’s appearance, and waiting for it to become slicker and more transparent, you can see when ovulation is approaching. If your cervical mucus resembles egg white, it’s what’s known as ‘fertile mucus’ and it’s a sign that you need try and conceive!
Other measures including charting your basal body temperature, a method which is hard work, but produces good results; and using pregnancy test-like OPKs, ovulation predictor kits which test your urine for the hormones which build into a surge around the time of ovulation. These are convenient, but can be less accurate, especially if you have any kind of disruption to the average hormone level the tests are looking for!