When trying to conceive, it is essential for you to know your fertile period to increase your chances of a successful conception. Did you know that there’s a five-day span each month when you are most likely to get pregnant? In this article, we share some tried and tested strategies to help you find your fertile window to aid conception.
What is a “fertile window”?
But firstly, you need to understand what is actually meant by a “fertile window”. During ovulation, an egg or ovum is released from a woman’s ovary and travels down her fallopian tube. It survives in the reproductive tract for 12-24 hours. If sperm fertilizes the egg during this time, conception can occur. Otherwise, the egg sheds with the uterine lining during menstruation.
A woman’s chances of getting pregnant are highest within 24 hours of ovulation and one day earlier. But conception is also possible if you have intercourse in the five days leading up to ovulation. This is because sperm can survive in the reproductive tract for five days, meaning that days-old sperm can still fertilize a newly released egg. For a successful conception, you would want the sperm ready to meet your egg when you ovulate, therefore your “fertile window” is five days prior to ovulation with two to three days prior being your most fertile time.
Tip #1 – Using a Calendar method
It is important to determine the cycle length by creating a menstrual diary to predict the fertile window and ovulation. You can start by tracking your menstruation for a few months using a paper journal or mobile APP and observe the data to determine your average cycle length.
The first day of the menstrual period is considered day one of the cycle, and ovulation usually happens about 14 days before your next period is due. For example, if a woman’s menstruation starts on 1st of May and her next period starts on 30th May. The probable day of her ovulation is on the 16th of May. Since a woman is most likely to conceive on the day of ovulation and the five days before it, the fertile window for her is days 9-14.
Tip #2 – Observing the cervical mucus
Nearing ovulation, estrogen in a woman’s body will increase the amount of vaginal discharge indicating her fertile window. The vaginal discharge or cervical mucus increases in volume, and it looks like an egg white which tends to be clearer and more slippery compared to other times of the cycle. When the mucus starts reducing drastically and looking slimy and thick, there is a good chance she is ovulating.
Tip #3 – Ovulation predictor test kit
In addition to the 2 tips above, you can use an ovulation predictor kit (OPK) which senses the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge that happens 24 to 48 hours prior to ovulation. It is important to firstly determine your ovulation day before using the OPK. When the OPK turns positive, have intercourse daily for the next three to five days.
To maximize the chances of conception, couples should time having sexual intercourse during the fertile window. Besides that, frequency of intercourse, lifestyle, diet and health also play vital roles for a healthy pregnancy.
Are you 35 years of age or older? Is there a change in your period cycle? Do you have anyone in your family who have had fertility issues? Or, have you been trying to conceive but failed? Dr. Agilan Arjunan gives you a glimpse of what is actually happening in your body to help you understand your situation.
The idea of starting a family brings an emotional roller coaster for both men and women– joyfulness, anxiety, delight and sometimes even fear of the unknown. Apart from that, men and women have unique paths to becoming parents. One of the main differences between men and women is what is known as ‘the biological clock’.
The reproductive biological clock is most commonly referred to as a timeline for having children. Anatomically, women are born with as many as one to two million eggs in their ovaries which were produced since she was in her mother’s womb. In a woman’s lifetime, she will release about 300 to 400 eggs through a process called ovulation. During ovulation, the ovary releases an egg at a time and produces necessary hormones to support her womb for pregnancy.
Unfortunately, a woman’s fertility begins to decline gradually in her late 20s, declines more sharply around age 35, and drops sharply at age 40. Other factors influencing a woman’s fertility are all lifestyle related such as smoking, poor dietary intake, alcohol consumption and to certain extend underlying medical conditions such as endometriosis, but age is the most powerful influence.
On the contrary, men’s reproduction begins at puberty and continue to produce sperms throughout their lives. A sperm cell undergoes multiple stages from spermatogonium until becoming a mature sperm that has the ability to fertilise an egg. Although the sperm production happens throughout his life, the production of sperms that has the ability to fertilise an egg declines as he ages. Men too do have their biological clock.
Having one or more of these signs may indicate that your biological clock is ticking faster than you thought. If you want to conceive and start your own family, now would be the best time to consult a fertility specialist while your clock is ticking!
Frequently Asked Questions
There are 3 methods to determine your fertile window. The first method would be to calculate it using the calendar method which involves tracking your menstruation period over the course of a few months. The second method would be to check the clarity and texture of your cervical mucus/vaginal discharge. And finally, using the ovulation predictor kit to determine when is your most fertile period to engage in intercourse.
No they are not. Your fertile window is the period of time in which probability of conception is the highest before your ovulation. Ovulation on the other hand, is the release of the egg from your ovaries to your fallopian tube.
Ovulation usually occurs on the 14th day of your menstruation. By considering that the fertile window is 5 days prior to ovulation, your fertile window is most likely between the 9th to 14th day.