If you’re trying to get pregnant but having trouble conceiving, then we suggest learning more about the fertility window.
Did you know that there are only a few days in every menstrual cycle when a woman is fertile and able to fall pregnant?
That’s why knowing when you’re most fertile, and having sex at the right time, can make a big difference to whether or not you conceive.
The fertility window: Why it’s key to conception
Your fertility window is the small number of days in your menstrual cycle when it’s possible to conceive.
Your fertile window includes the day you ovulate, plus the five days beforehand. You’ll have the best chance of getting pregnant by having sex as close as possible to the time of ovulation.
That’s because both eggs and sperm only live for a short time and need to meet during the right time for fertilisation to occur. Eggs need to be fertilised within 24 hours of being released from the ovary, while sperm live for about five days.
Keep track of your cycle
If you’re trying to conceive, you’ll need to keep track of your menstrual cycle so you don’t miss your fertile window. You can record your menstrual cycle in a diary or use a period tracker app on your smartphone (we’ve listed some popular ones below).
A woman’s fertile window depends on her individual menstrual cycle, which varies from person to person. A normal cycle can be anywhere between 21 and 35 days long.
Work out the length of your cycle by counting from the first day of one period (when you bleed, or menstruate), to the first day of the next.
If your cycle varies month to month, work out the average cycle length by looking at your past three months. Add up the number of days for the past three cycles, and divide by three.
How to identify your most fertile days
Once you know your average cycle length, you can calculate your fertile window and work out the likely time of ovulation.
Your most fertile days are the three days leading up to ovulation, plus the day you ovulate. That’s the time when you and your partner should have sex.
If your cycle is normally 28 days, you would ovulate around day 14, and your fertile window would be days 12, 13 and 14.
If you have sex five days before you ovulate, your chance of conceiving is about 10 per cent, while if you have sex on the day you ovulate, your chance of pregnancy is about 30 per cent.
Ovulation predictor kits are also available from pharmacies. These can detect the levels of luteinising hormone (LH) in your urine, which rise about 24 to 36 hours before ovulation.If you’re hoping for a baby, find out how to pinpoint your most fertile days each month. #conception #pregnancy Click To Tweet
What happens during ovulation
When you ovulate, an egg is released from an ovary and starts moving down the fallopian tube. If sperm are in the fallopian tube at the same time, there’s a good chance that one will fertilise the egg to create an embryo.
In the following four to six days, the embryo moves down the fallopian tube to the uterus, where it implants in the lining and continues growing.
One to two days after ovulation, it’s unlikely you’ll conceive because the egg will no longer be in the fallopian tube.
Of course, don’t use this calculation to avoid falling pregnant – good contraception is far more reliable!
Look out for these signs of ovulation
Your menstrual cycle is controlled by female sex hormones to get your body ready for pregnancy.
As anyone who lives through pre-menstrual tension or severe morning sickness knows, your hormones have a huge effect on your body and mind.
Some women have signs of ovulation such as abdominal pain on one side, bloating, breast tenderness and a change in cervical mucus.
Progesterone levels rise after ovulation, and a progesterone blood test will allow you to determine if you are ovulating. When you ovulate, your basal body temperature can rise slightly thanks to the hormone progesterone
Taking your basal body temperature is another way to help you work out the best days to conceive.
Your basal body temperature is your temperature during sleep, so you can check it by taking your temperature as soon as you wake up in the morning.If you’re trying to fall pregnant, look out for these signs of ovulation to increase your chances of conceiving. #conception #pregnancy Click To Tweet
Phases of the menstrual cycle – let’s get technical
The menstrual cycle all happens thanks to rising and falling levels of the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone, and the pituitary hormones luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
Ovulation is a complex interaction of hormones, and has three different phases:
The follicular phase starts on the first day of bleeding until ovulation. Thanks to follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, your ovaries produce about 20 follicles containing immature eggs, one of which matures.
The ovulatory phase is when your ovary releases the mature egg.
The luteal phase begins as the egg starts travelling down the fallopian tube, where it may be fertilised, while progesterone thickens the lining of the uterus.
It’s during the luteal phase that you might experience pre-menstrual symptoms such as mood swings, headaches, bloating, breast tenderness and skin problems.
Use an app to track your cycle
While women once would have made a note in their diaries when they had their period, now there’s a huge range of period tracking apps available. Some of the more popular apps include Clue, Flo, Glow, Kindara and Eve.
A period tracking app will help you monitor your cycle and symptoms, and give predictions on your fertile window, ovulation, upcoming period and potential PMS.
Before you install, read the fine print and opt out of sharing data, if you wish.
If you do conceive, some apps can also help monitor your pregnancy.
Of course, using a period tracker isn’t a reliable form of contraception! Remember it’s still possible to fall pregnant outside your fertile window, so if you don’t want to conceive, then use reliable contraception.
We’re bringing you a women’s health test
At MyHealthTest, we know women are looking for easy tools to use at home to self-monitor their health, including their hormones.
We have a program of work underway with key health experts to develop a range of new monitoring tests and other tools to help women track and monitor their health and wellbeing, including hormones and key vitamins.
We look forward to keeping you updated on key developments in this exciting new program of work.