Tracking your fertile window
Timing is everything, which is why, when you’re trying to get pregnant, you need to know exactly what your window of opportunity is. The fertile window is the time period each month in which a woman’s egg can be fertilized by a man’s sperm. This window typically spans about six days in a woman’s menstrual cycle: the day of ovulation (when an egg is discharged from the ovary) and the five days prior to that time.
Given that this is the only time in your monthly cycle that you can conceive, how can you increase your chances of getting pregnant? Here are some suggestions:
- Know your cycle: Each month, track your cycle so you know more or less when you will be ovulating.
- Have intercourse more often during your fertile window.
- Maintain a healthy diet, exercise and minimize stress.
- Take nutritional supplements specifically designed for fertility.
Track your cycle
The calendar method is the easiest way to determine your fertile window. First, count the number days between your menstrual periods – from the start of your period this month, until the start of your period next month.
While every woman is different, menstrual cycle length usually varies between 24 and 35 days. If your cycle is less than 24 days or more than 35 days after you have measured for at least three consecutive cycles, we recommend that you consult your doctor to make sure this cycle is not a sign of female infertility.
Another method for calculating your fertile window and your ovulation day is to begin with the last day of your cycle and subtract 14 days. For example, if your menstrual cycle is 30 days long, when you subtract 14 days, it puts ovulation at day 16 after your first sign of blood. Then, to get your fertile window, subtract five more days from your ovulation day. (If your ovulation falls on day 16, 16 minus five is day 11). These 6 days – from day 11 to day 16 are your fertile window – the ideal time in your cycle to conceive.
More precise ovulation tracking methods
If your menstrual cycle duration varies from cycle to cycle, or if your menstrual cycle is not regular, you may need a more accurate method to calculate your fertile window. Here are several ways to get physical ovulation clues from your body:
- Basal body temperature between periods: Basal body temperature (BBT) is the lowest body temperature that your body reaches during times of rest (which is usually during sleep). BBT is usually immediately after you wake up and before any physical activity. Your BBT decreases just before your body releases an egg in ovulation. Your BBT then increases sharply 24 hours after ovulation.
Here are the steps – over two to three months to get an accurate picture of your body’s basal temperature cycle:
- Track the days of your period throughout the month.
- Measure and record your basal temperature every morning before getting out of bed. The day that your temperature decreases is your ovulation day.
- Record how many days from the first day of bleeding your BBT began to decrease. Your fertile window spans about 2 days before to 2 days after that temperature change within each cycle.
- Cervical mucus: Your cervical mucus is stretchy, slippery, thin and clear during the five to six days before, and on the day of ovulation. You are likely to notice a small mucus discharge on your toilet paper after urinating. Another way to check for cervical mucus is to place your fingertip just inside your vagina and feel the consistency.
- Level of luteinizing hormone (LH): The level of LH rises about 24 hours before ovulation. LH levels in urine can be tested using a home ovulation predictor kit. Note that you have to test LH levels as they begin to rise, since by the time they peak, most of the fertile window has passed. It is best to test the level on day seven after your period starts, and again on day 10 or 12.
After you have determined your ovulation day with these methods, your fertile window is the same as described above, that is, the day of ovulation and five days prior to ovulation.
Tracking your cycle simply with the Fruitful Way app
Now that you know your cycle, it is time to enter that information into the Fruitful Way app so that you can easily track it every month.
Here is the information you will need:
- The date that your last period started
- The duration of your period
- The length of your menstrual cycle
- If you know the date after your last period when you ovulated, you can enter that information. If you don’t know, the system will estimate it for you.
With this information, you can review your fertile cycle and plan activities around the days that you are most likely to conceive.
When and how often to try
It is best to have intercourse at least twice a week and every other day during your fertility window, if at all possible. The Fruitful Way app can help you plan lovemaking and romantic encounters throughout your fertility cycle.