We explain the signs of ovulation to look for if you are trying to get pregnant.
'Officially' the best way to make a baby is by having regular (several times a week) sex throughout your menstrual cycle. Having said this, you are at your most fertile during the days leading up to ovulation as it is only once an egg is released that conception is possible (provided healthy sperm is present too!).
You can maximise your chances of conceiving by learning to spot your body's signs of ovulation; this will enable you to time intercourse with your peak fertility so that there is plenty of sperm available to fertilise the egg each time you ovulate. We explain the signs to look for.....
The most basic way to identify your time of peak fertility is by establishing the average length of your menstrual cycle. This can be used to predict ovulation as, for most women, the luteal phase (the time between ovulation and menstruation) tends to be fairly consistent in duration from month to month, generally lasting between 13 - 15 days. Therefore by monitoring your cycle
over several months you should be able to estimate the week during which ovulation is most likely to occur and consequently, you are most likely to conceive. While cycle length on its own this isn't an entirely reliable method for predicting ovulation, it can be a useful guide when used in conjunction with other predictive methods.
After you ovulate the elevated levels of progesterone in your body cause your temperature to rise. This increase is only very slight (approx 0.4deg) however by charting your BBT
(basal body temperature) daily throughout your cycle you will be able to identify when exactly this increase, and therefore ovulation, occurred. While this is a retrospective sign of fertility, indicating when you have previously ovulated rather than predicting when you will, BBT can be incredibly helpful in establishing the most fertile phase of your cycle and also provides a very accurate estimate of the date of conception when you do fall pregnant.
The position of your cervix
(the part of the female reproductive system that separates the uterus from the vagina) changes throughout your menstrual cycle and can be a useful indicator of fertility. At the start of your cycle the cervix will feel firm to the touch (similar to the end of a nose), sit low in the vaginal canal and will be almost closed. As fertility increases throughout your cycle the cervix will begin to adopt a higher, more open position and will feel softer to the touch (more like the feel of your lips) - this peaks during ovulation and then returns to its low closed position, later on in your cycle.
Cervical secretions also alter in line with fertility, being minimal at the start and end of the menstrual cycle, and abundant and egg-white-like (clear and stretchy) at ovulation. Charting the quantity, consistency and appearance of your cervical mucous
can really help you to predict when you are at your most fertile and consequently most likely to conceive. Although gaging your fertility using cervical mucous or position can seem a little awkward at first, once you become used to the fertility patterns of your body its much easier to interpret these signs of ovulation.
Some women experience lower abdominal cramps or twinges just prior to ovulation, these tend to be focused on one side and may last anything from a few minutes to several hours. Tender breasts are sometimes experienced too and can be another useful indicator of the time at which you're most likely to conceive. It can be helpful to note down symptoms like this throughout your cycle as they will all help in building up a picture of your fertility.
Increased well being
Many women experience an increase in libido during the most fertile phase of their menstrual cycle, you may also notice that you feel more attractive and confident and have a greater feeling of well being at this time. When you think about it, in reproductive terms it really makes sense that you are going to feel most like 'mating' while you are at your most fertile and although this is not experienced by everyone, it can be used as a secondary indicator of fertility.
If you find it difficult to monitor the natural fluctuations of your menstrual cycle it can be worth trying an ovulation kit
. Although these come at a cost they are one of the most reliable means of predicting fertility as they measure levels of LH (luteinising hormone) in your body. This is possibly the most important sign of ovulation as it is responsible for stimulating ovarian egg release itself. Fertility-indicating LH surges can be detected up to 2 days prior to ovulation giving you plenty of warning as to when you are most likely to conceive.
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