Trying to conceive? The best way to maximize your chance to take part in the miracle of human life is to understand ovulation. Without it, a woman cannot get pregnant, and there’s so much more to it than just marking days on a calendar.
Here’s what you need to know about ovulation–and how it can work in your favor.
Ovulation is the process of a mature egg getting ready for fertilization.
Female eggs aren’t just hanging around the uterus, waiting to meet a sperm they like. They take time to mature in the ovaries, and about once a month, one that’s ready to go is released. It travels down the fallopian tube and into the uterus, where it can be fertilized by a sperm should the opportunity arise.
If no fertilization occurs, the egg is absorbed by the thickened uterine lining and shed along with it during a woman’s monthly period.
There is a very specific window for ovulation.
This is why fertility doctors emphasize studying your cycle and pinpointing ovulation to better improve your chances of getting pregnant. Start by taking note of the date you started your last period.
Doctors will frequently refer to this as your LMP (last menstrual period). This is the first day of your new cycle. Ovulation often occurs anytime between Days 11-21 of your cycle, meaning you have a short window wherein your fertility is at its peak.
Another way to count it: Ovulation is said to occur 14 days before your next period, so if you’re healthy and regular with your periods, you can chart a few cycles and count backwards to pinpoint the exact time of the month you’re optimally fertile.
It’s not to say that you can’t get pregnant at any other time of the month, or if you miss your chance you have to wait another cycle–women’s cycles are notoriously difficult to track and can vary even from month to month, and that’s barring any underlying hormonal problems or existing conditions that affect her menstrual cycle.
However, if you’re fairly regular and consistent with your periods, there shouldn’t be any reason why you can’t rely on your ovulation to successfully conceive a child.
There are physical cues that could indicate ovulation.
Since cycles can be confusing, and there’s no exact way to pinpoint the “correct” days of ovulation, you can learn your body’s cues that could hint it’s the right time to try and make a baby. Some signs you’re ovulating include:
- Changes in your vaginal discharge. An increase in volume, or a difference in its consistency, could indicate ovulation. Sticky mucus-like discharge is a good sign that you’re fertile.
- Breast tenderness. Breast tenderness. Sore breasts and/or nipples are indicative of hormonal changes, which are at their peak during ovulation.
- Mild pain. Discomfort in the pelvic region is normal, but should easily be relieved by OTC pain medication. Otherwise, persistent pain should be discussed with your doctor.
- Increased sex drive. Feeling extra horny could be a sign you’re extra fertile!
Conception is a master class in perfect timing, but that’s no reason to be daunted. Keep charting, staying in tune with your own body, and enjoying trying with your partner.