Ovulation and your fertility
❋ During each menstrual cycle, your ovaries typically ovulate (release one egg) every month in preparation for possible fertilisation. This occurs roughly mid-cycle – around two weeks before your next period is due (on day 14 if you have a regular 28-day cycle).
Having sex at the time of ovulation will improve your likelihood of falling pregnant. However, as you can imagine, it may be difficult to precisely time intercourse so that your partner’s sperm is able to meet and fertilise your egg within this short window of opportunity! Associate Professor Peter Illingworth from IVF Australia says that, luckily, sperm are capable of surviving inside a woman’s body for several days. This means you may also be successful at conception if you have sex in the days leading up to ovulation.
Predicting your ovulation
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine where you are at in your menstrual cycle. This is why it’s helpful to familiarise yourself with the physical signs that can help you predict when you are ovulating and when you are at your most fertile.
Measuring your basal temperature
❋ As a general rule, your body temperature rises by about 0.5°C just before or during ovulation, and it typically stays elevated until your next period begins. By charting your temperature each day throughout several cycles, you may soon notice a pattern, and this could help you predict when you’ll ovulate in the following months.
❋ During your fertile phase, your vaginal mucus becomes clear, more abundant and stretchy (the consistency of raw egg white). You can test this by putting a small amount between your fingers, then slowly moving your fingers apart and watching it stretch (expect it to stretch 5-10cm when you’re fertile).
Fertility predictor kits
❋ If you are unsure about reading your body’s subtle telltale signs, there are several fertility prediction kits available from pharmacies. Most work by testing the presence of hormones in your urine to determine whether you are likely to be fertile at the time. Another shows the level of oestrogen in your saliva, which rises several days before you ovulate and peaks when you do.
Although these commercial products may be helpful, bear in mind they may also be costly.
There’s a tendency to feel that it’s our right to be able to make babies, but falling pregnant is not always easy. Associate Professor Illingworth advises:
❋ If you’ve been trying to conceive for 12 months or more (6 months if you are 35 years or over), seek advice from a fertility specialist.
❋ Once a couple has had a child, they typically have a higher chance of achieving another. However, if conception has not occurred after trying naturally for 12 months, seek medical advice
* More fertility and conception articles