Have you and your partner decided it’s time to start a family? This is a fascinating time! For many couples, pregnancy happens easily – about 85% of couples conceive within a year. For others, the road to conception is longer. Learn more about how to find the best time and circumstances for getting pregnant.
Understanding your menstrual cycle
We’re taught that menstrual cycles are 28 days long, but that’s not true for every woman. Some women’s cycles are as short as 21 days, and some are as long as 35.
In addition, many women don’t have the same cycle length every month. Actual days of bleeding can be two to seven days, which can vary monthly in each woman.
What is ovulation?
Ovulation is the process of one of your ovaries releasing an egg into one of your fallopian tubes. Although you have two ovaries, only one of them typically releases an egg each month. The timing of ovulation varies from woman to woman and month to month. The average timing is about halfway between the end of your period and the start of your next one.
The variation in menstrual cycles and ovulation timing makes it difficult to predict when your fertility window will occur. Your peak fertility window is about three days before ovulation, ending when you ovulate.
During this period, your body provides optimal conditions for sperm survival, making it possible for your partner’s sperm to survive inside you for three to five days.
Your best shot at conception is to have sex several times during that time. For many women, this window falls about 14 days after their period’s start (or seven days after the end of their periods, assuming they bleed for a full seven days).
Finding your window of peak fertility
There are three popular ways to monitor your fertility. If you’ve tried one but not the others, it could be worth your while to branch out.
Some women use the calendar as their primary method of estimating their fertility window. This can work well for women with the typical 28-day menstrual cycle because they can plan their fertility window starting on about day 14. This method won’t be as successful for women whose cycles vary or who ovulate earlier or later in their cycles than most women.
Monitor body signals
Using the Fertility Awareness Method, women can track their peak fertility windows by measuring their basal body temperatures each morning, monitoring cervical fluid, and tracking other signs of ovulation, like mild abdominal pain and heightened libido.
Various apps and calendars are available to help you keep track of your body’s signals and interpret when you’re most fertile.
Use an ovulation predictor kit
Some women report success using an ovulation predictor kit. These kits help you pinpoint your most fertile window of time by measuring changes in your urine or saliva. You can find ovulation predictor kits in most pharmacies, and they can also be ordered online. The Clearblue Ovulation Test is a particularly well-known one.
Boost your fertility
Did you know that there are life changes you can make that may boost your fertility? Consider making some of these adjustments:
- Smoking interferes with male and female fertility, so if you or your partner smokes, it’s time to quit!
- Exercise is another fertility booster. Research has shown that physically fit couples conceive more quickly (and physically fit mothers have an easier time giving birth).
- Eating healthy foods with high nutritional value has also been shown to boost fertility.
- Try cutting down on alcohol. Heavy alcohol consumption affects men’s fertility. (Plus, if you’re drinking, you can harm your baby in the first few days of your pregnancy if you’re not yet aware that you’re pregnant.)
Problems getting pregnant
What happens if you’re following all the fertility advice and you’re still not getting pregnant?
If you’re under 35 and you’ve been trying for a year to get pregnant without success, it’s wise for you and your partner to both pay a visit to your doctor to find out what might be getting in your way.
If you’re over 35 and you’ve been trying for six months, don’t wait a whole year – go ahead and schedule a doctor’s appointment.
If irregular periods vary widely in timing and length, you may want to visit your doctor before you begin trying to get pregnant.
Irregular periods not only make it difficult to figure out when you’re fertile, but they can also indicate some other underlying issues, like a thyroid disorder or polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Following these guidelines to boost your fertility and find your peak window for conception can increase your chances of getting pregnant more quickly.
Of course, some couples don’t like to get stressed out over planning, and it’s OK to have sex as usual, minus birth control. If you have trouble conceiving, make sure to visit your doctor.