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Find Your Fertility

By Viola Polomeno, RN, PhD

Find Your Fertility

Finding the right time to conceive starts with understanding your cycle. You’re most likely to get pregnant in the 5 days leading up to and the 24 hours after you ovulate.

Do you know how long your menstrual cycles are? The average is 28 days, with the first day of bleeding counted as day 1:

  • Between days 1 and 7 your body gets ready to release an egg from your ovaries
  • By day 11, your uterine lining begins to thicken so that it can host a fertilized egg, should that happen
  • Your body then releases an egg from your ovaries and down the fallopian tubes around day 14 where it can meet up with sperm if intercourse has occurred in the last few days
  • If a sperm unites with an egg to fertilize it, it can then implant in the uterus, and voila! you’re pregnant

If fertilization doesn’t happen, your hormones change and around day 25 your body begins to shed your uterine lining, which results in it bleeding out around day 28.

Discover Your Cycle

Learning when you ovulate is essential to increasing your odds of conceiving. Use one or several of these methods through a few cycles to sleuth out your pattern:

Basal body temperature

Your body temperature will rise slightly on the day you ovulate. Take your “resting” temperature each morning at the same time before you rise from bed and chart it. Use a digital body basal thermometer since the shift can sometimes be in tenth’s of a degree. You’re most likely to conceive in the 2 to 3 days before and for 24 hours after the temperature shift.

Calendar

If your periods are fairly similar in length and you know your average cycle length, say 29 days for example, you can count back 12 – 16 days from when you expect your next period and have your targeted timeframe for ovulation.

Ovulation predictor kit

Buy these kits at drugstores to scan for an increase in luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine to predict ovulation, typically 24 to 36 hours in advance. Follow the instructions on the kit as to when and how to do so.

Fertility monitor

These hand-held devices help predict ovulation and signal when it has occurred by analyzing hormones in your urine via test stick, your basal body temperature readings, and your cycle lengths.

Cervical mucus

Your body will actually give you specific signs it’s about to ovulate. The mucus from your cervix will change from a creamy consistency to a clear, stretchy consistency like raw egg whites.

Saliva

With a saliva test, you put some of your saliva on a slide and look at it under a small hand-held scope to detect a “ferning” pattern within your dried saliva made up of dots and circles or a combination of both, say experts at the FDA. This test is best for learning when you may become fertile but some women may never “fern” or do so inconsistently apart from ovulation. You get the best results when you use this test consistently around what you’ve identified as your fertile period.

Viola Polomeno, RN, PhD, is faculty at the University of Ottawa in Ontario.


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