Hands up if you think you know when you are most fertile?
Trying to conceive is a common area of distress for couples. Studies suggest that one in five couples have problems getting pregnant.
One of the ways to improve your chances of getting pregnant is learning when you are most fertile.
A study from New Zealand has found that about one third of women report they use some form of ovulation monitoring but less than 14% of all study participants could identify when they were most likely to get pregnant .Have a guess, when do you think you are most fertile?
The study also showed we believe our chances of getting pregnant per cycle are greater than what science tells us. Whilst I want everyone to continue to be optimistic about the chance of getting pregnant, there are some practical steps you can put in place TODAY that will help increase your success.
Know your fertile window
You can only get pregnant a maximum of 5 days in one cycle. This includes the day of ovulation and how long sperm can survive within the body, usually 3 days after sex. In a woman who has a 28 day cycle, ovulation occurs 14 days from the onset of her period. So her most fertile window is days 11-15. Many couples think they should wait and have sex on the day of ovulation but knowing your fertile window puts sex on the agenda before ovulation as well.
But when am I ovulating?
It’s time for you to get technical. Some women report ‘just knowing’ when they are ovulating but the best advice is to start monitoring your period over at least a couple of months to identify your cycle. Simple ways to monitor your ovulation are the calendar method, the basal temperature method or cervical mucus consistency, with a combination of all three gaining the best results.
I also recommend apps such as iPeriod. Apps like these help monitor your cycle and recommend fertile and non-fertile times and give you a more accurate indication of ovulation.
(Please note: if you are using the apps for natural contraception it is about 75% effective, an IUD has the greatest protection with 99% effectiveness. An app called natural cycles claims 93% contraceptive effectiveness but this is a topic for a whole other blog.)
Another way of monitoring ovulation is with urine tests. These tests record your hormone levels and predict ovulation by measuring the surge of luteinising hormone (LH) in the urine.It is a very effective way of predicting ovulation as ovulation should occur 36 hours after the LH surge. These are call Ovulation Predictor Kits (or OPKs) and you can by them online, chemist or supermarket. You don't have to go to fancy or expensive with these, they all work pretty much the same.
My biggest advice: If you have been having well-timed sex (where you have monitored your ovulation and are having sex in your fertile window) and you are still not pregnant after 12 months then you need to see your doctor to discuss a referral to a specialist gynaecologist.This reduces to 6 months if the woman is over 35 and/or the man is over 50.
If your cycle is irregular or if you believe there are months where ovulation is not occurring, you need to see your gynaecologist earlier as there may be other issues impacting your fertility. In the meantime, improving your fertility knowledge and knowing when you are ovulating in your cycle is a great way to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Oh, and sex. Make sure you are having sex frequently throughout the fertile window. Don’t hold back because you are waiting for the ‘precise’ moment of ovulation.You might just miss the boat