Family Planning Boards
Getting pregnant can be the easiest or most frustrating event in your life. When you're trying to conceive, timing is everything. Perfect eggs and flawless sperm are useless if they don't hook up at the opportune moment. To make that happen, you need to have intercourse within 24 hours of ovulation (when the ripened egg is released from the ovary).
There are several ways to determine if you are ovulating: Regular, predictable menstrual cycles (especially if preceded by symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness, or moodiness) are a great indication that ovulation has occurred. If you do not have periods or you have irregular cycles, this means you are either not ovulating or you're ovulating unpredictably. It is important that women who have irregular cycles consult their healthcare provider before they try to get pregnant so that the obstacles to ovulation can be identified and treated.
Studies have shown that conception occurs more quickly when some method of ovulation prediction is used to time intercourse. There are a variety of low-tech and high-tech approaches that can help determine when ovulation is taking place.
Keeping track of when your periods start will clue you in to the "window of opportunity"—when ovulation is likely to occur. Ovulation usually occurs 14 days before the onset of menses. For women with a 28 day cycle, this means cycle day 14, but for women with normal but varying cycle lengths (26 to 35 days), it could be anywhere from day 12 to day 21! In order to cover the possible time of ovulation, these women are advised to have intercourse every 36 to 48 hours from day 10 until day 23. For women with less variable menstrual cycles, the fertility window may cover fewer days.
Mittelschmerz, from the German for "middle pain," is a sharp or aching pain in the lower left or right of a woman's abdomen that last 12 to 36 hours. It occurs when an egg is being released from the ovary. It signals the "perfect" time to have intercourse. Keep in mind that only 20 percent of women feel or notice this pain, so you may want to employ a more reliable method to detect ovulation.
A woman's cervical mucus changes consistency in concert with the hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. Changes in your cervical mucus can help identify your fertile phase without the need for any special devices. For a few days after your period, your cervical fluid may be dry or sticky; then it starts to get wetter. When it becomes slippery and stretchy—almost like a raw egg white—that's when you're most fertile