If you're planning a pregnancy, it's time to get calculating. Your most fertile time to conceive is a six-day window that includes your ovulation date and the five days leading up to it. To maximize your chances of getting pregnant, however, don’t wait until the day of ovulation to have sex. Once ovulation occurs, the changes in cervical mucus can make it more difficult for the sperm to get to the egg. Understanding your menstrual cycle and tracking your body’s changes can help you use your fertile time to your advantage.
The menstrual cycle starts on the first day of your period. Decreased hormone levels signal the uterus to release blood and tissues that have built up in anticipation of pregnancy. The bleeding normally lasts about five days and the complete cycle, about 28 days. Ovulation varies from woman to woman and month to month, but usually occurs about 13 to 20 days after the end of the period. If pregnancy doesn’t occur, your period will commence about 14 to 16 days after ovulation.
Track Basal Body Temperature
There are three methods to track your most fertile times, notes Womenshealth.gov. One of these is the basal body temperature method, which requires monitoring your basal body temperature for several months. Your basal temperature is your body’s temperature immediately upon awakening, prior to rising or moving around. Just before you ovulate, the basal temperature rises slightly. Because the rise is small—about 0.4 to 0.8 degrees Fahrenheit—you will need to use a more sensitive basal thermometer, which you can purchase at most pharmacies. Take your temperature using the same method, by mouth, rectally or vaginally, each day at the same time. As ovulation approaches, a gradual rise in temperature occurs. Two to three days prior to the maximum rise in your temp, you are fertile. The same is true for the 12 to 24 hours after ovulation.
Check the Calendar
Record your cycle for several months using a calendar. Your cycle begins with the first day of your period and ends on the day prior to your next period. Add the number of days of your shortest cycle and subtract 18. Use this new number to calculate your fertile time—count ahead that number of days from the first day of your next cycle. Mark it with an "X" on the calendar to denote the first day of your fertile period. To find the end of your fertile period, take the number of days in your longest cycle and subtract 11. Use this new number to count ahead from the first day of your next cycle and mark an "X" on this day. You are fertile on the days between the two calendar marks. If your cycles tend to be irregular, pair this method with another for a more accurate fertility timeline.
The mucus secreted by the cervix changes during your cycle. Just after your period, there may be none for a few days. Note these days on a calendar as "dry days." As an egg develops in your ovary, sticky white or yellowish mucus begins to secrete from your vaginal opening. Record these as "sticky days." Just prior to ovulation, this mucus becomes clear and slippery, similar to raw egg whites. Mark these days as "wet days." Wet days are your most fertile time. Approximately four days after your "wet days," the mucus becomes cloudy again and diminishes until you have your period.
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