Getting Pregnant

Tracking Your Cycle

Some couples get pregnant right away without any special effort. But for 15 percent of healthy, fertile couples, it can take up to a year. The best way to speed up the process is to track when you ovulate. Couples who track ovulation get pregnant, on average, in half the time of couples who don’t.

Each month, your best chances for conceiving are during the five days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation itself. The key to finding that period—your fertile window—depends upon accurately tracking ovulation. Here are some of the ways to do so:

Calendar Method

The second half of your cycle—the time between ovulation and the start of your next period—is fairly consistent, lasting 12 to 14 days for the majority of women. If your cycles are always 28 days, then you can count backward 12-14 days from the date of your next expected period to estimate your ovulation day.

Of course, most women’s cycles don’t operate like clocks—they’re not perfectly consistent. Some women’s cycles may be shorter or longer than 28 days, and some women may have different length cycles every month. Even women who think their cycles are pretty regular may ovulate on different days during different cycles.

That’s why it’s important to look for other signs of ovulation.

Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

Your BBT is your body’s temperature early in the morning, after at least four hours of sleep, before you sit up in bed, talk, or use the bathroom. During the first part of your cycle, before you ovulate, estrogen dominates. After ovulation, progesterone surges, which causes your BBT to rise by about a half a degree. It will stay elevated until your next period.

By tracking your temperature every morning with a special BBT thermometer, you can look back at a few months of cycles to see if there’s a pattern. If there is, you can use it to predict when ovulation will occur in upcoming cycles.

If you have irregular cycles, this method isn’t the best way to pinpoint ovulation. And even if you do, be aware that drinking alcohol, tiredness, early morning bathroom trips, and more can impact the accuracy of your results.

Cervical Mucus

The gunk in your underwear closely reflects the changing hormone levels of your cycle, and with a little detective work, can be a great tip-off to your ovulation day. When you’re fertile, it changes from scant, opaque, and sticky to plentiful, slippery, and clear. Many women describe the consistency as similar to raw egg whites.  

Fertility Awareness Method

By combining the calendar method, the temperature method, and observation of your cervical mucus consistency, you can more accurately pinpoint ovulation. In addition to charting your BBT each day, you also check the quality of your cervical mucus each day, looking for the clear, stretchy consistency that indicates peak fertility.

With dedication and consistency, this method can be quite accurate. And many women find it fascinating to learn to read their body’s signals of fertility. But it requires daily commitment to work properly. 

Ovulation Sticks/Ovulation Predictor Kits

Ovulation sticks measure hormone levels in urine. Most of them measure levels of luteinizing hormone, which rise at the beginning of your peak fertile time, about two days before ovulation.

Many women find urine tests annoying and inconvenient, since they must be used during a specific window of time. Usually, several tests must be done each month, and costs add up over time. And since these tests don’t tell you how much time is left in your fertile window, many couples feel rushed to have sex as soon as they get a positive result.

Ava Fertility Tracker

Worn only while sleeping, Ava is a new fertility tracking bracelet that tracks physiological signals of the beginning of the fertile window.

Ava maximizes your chances to conceive and eliminates the guesswork around tracking ovulation. It requires to extra work on your part: wear it at night, and tracking your fertility is taken care of. It also provides information about your overall health before, during, and after pregnancy, including sleep quality and stress level.

It costs more than a BBT thermometer or ovulation sticks. But since it’s only a one time purchase, over time it may be more economical than ovulation sticks.

Sharee Loeffler

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