So you’re ready to start trying to get pregnant and take the plunge into becoming parents! Deiciding that you’re ready to have a baby is often the hard part, so hopefully you’ll be on your way to motherhood soon.
After you’ve made the decision, the next step is to start tracking your ovulation to optimize your fertility window and get pregnant fast!
Unfortunately, getting pregnant isn’t as easy as you may think it will be. For some women it can take months or even years, but for the lucky, it can happen right away.
Conceiving a baby is not just luck, but knowledge and preparation should go into it as well. Preparing your body and learning about how pregnancy actually happens will help you to increase your chances.
You can get a jumpstart on quickening the process by preparing yourself. Determining your most optimal time of fertility by tracking ovulation can make getting pregnant quicker and less stressful.
What is ovulation?
Ovulation occurs once a month when the brain sends out Luteinizing Hormone (LH) through the body, signaling an egg to be released from the ovaries.
The egg is then released into the Fallopian tubes in preparation to be fertilized. Once in the Fallopian tube, it can actually be met by a sperm for fertilization.
During the months when the egg is not fertilized (no pregnancy), it stops producing hormones which allows it to dissolve. That is when the uterus lining is shed and you have a period.
How do you actually get pregnant?
The process of getting pregnant sounds pretty simple, right? A man and a woman have unprotected sex and then she becomes pregnant.
Yes, that is one step of how it works, but many women don’t know all of the science behind how and when to make it happen. It’s often not as easy as it sounds!
Becoming pregnant is actually a pretty complicated process and a few factors come into play to make it happen successfully.
Semen is made up of MILLIONS of microscopic sperm cells and other fluids mixed together. This is what comes out of a man’s penis during ejaculation and enters into the woman’s vagina.
About halfway through a woman’s menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs and an egg travels toward your uterus through the fallopian tube. The egg remains here for only 12-24 hours awaiting a sperm to come fertilize it.
For only a period of 1 or 2 days a month, a woman’s egg is available to be fertilized. This is the time that you would need to have sex in order to get pregnant.
After ejaculation, each sperm cell will swim up through the cervix, uterus, and into the Fallopian tubes looking for an egg. Although there are millions of sperm that may enter the vagina during sex, only 1 is needed to reach and fertilize an egg.
Fertilization occurs when a sperm cell finds and enters an egg. A sperm cell can live unfertilized in a woman’s fallopian tube for up to 6 days before dying off.
Once a sperm cell joins the egg, the fertilized egg begins to grow larger as it makes it’s way further through the fallopian tube and into the uterus. When that ball of cells successfully attaches itself to the lining of your uterus, implantation occurs.
Therefore, pregnancy officially begins when the ball is implanted. This can be about 6 days after the sperm actually met the egg and takes a couple more days for the process to be completed.
Once the fertilized egg is implanted, it releases pregnancy hormones signaling to your body that you have become pregnant.
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When can the egg be fertilized?
Your egg is only available to be fertilized for 1-2 days per month. It’s typically between day 10 and day 16 of your own menstrual cycle.
For example, if you find out that you ovulate on the 15th day of the month, you will not be able to conceive on the 3rd day or 23rd day of the month. Your egg is only available for conception during the 1-2 day period surrounding the time that it has been released.
This is why figuring out your fertility window is so important!
Finding your fertility window
There is only a short window of time that, if you have sex, you may actually get pregnant. This span can typically be up to 6 days per month.
It includes the day of ovulation, 1 day after, and about 3-4 days before. Figuring out your day of ovulation can help you to determine the whole period of time that you could potentially get pregnant.
Below I listed methods to find that window of time where you are most fertile. This is the optimal period to have sex in order to conceive.
When it doesn’t work
Unfortunately, just finding your ovulation day doesn’t always guarantee you a pregnancy. There are many other factors that contribute to getting pregnant, as listed above.
Even if you have determined that you and your partner are both fertile and have no individual issues, a lot of problems could occur throughout the entire process from intercourse to fertilization to pregnancy.
If any of the steps up to implantation are interrupted, that would result in a nonviable pregnancy.
Not every conception results in pregnancy
Up to half of all fertilized eggs naturally don’t implant in the uterus. This may still result in a positive pregnancy test because the pregnancy hormone was released, but the cells did not complete the whole process of implantation.
Again, the perfect environment and situation must occur from the right sperm to meet the right egg and result in a viable pregnancy. Here are some things that could possibly occur resulting in non-pregnancy this time around.
- The egg may release, but not go far enough to where the sperm can reach it.
- Even though there’s a million sperm cells, there may not be that 1 good enough to fertilize the egg.
- The egg could become fertilized, but not make it all the way through the Fallopian tube to the uterus.
- The fertilized egg may make it into the uterus, but not be able to implant in the lining of the uterus.
- The fertilized egg may start implanting, but never complete the whole process.
It’s very difficult to pinpoint and understand why a woman ins’t getting pregnant because of all these steps that must go right. However, if you have been having trouble for several months, talk to your OB/GYN for further assistance.
Recommended Strategies to Track Ovulation
There are several methods that can help you accurately determine your day of ovulation. Using more than one of these methods is the best option to really pinpoint the exact time that ovulation is occurring.
If you can, plan a month or two in advance of when you will start trying to conceive. This will allow you to use all the data you collect from every method to determine if your cycle is regular and specify the actual day before you start trying.
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Tracking LH surge
The following methods detect the presence of LH (Luteinizing Hormone) in your urine which signifies that ovulation is ready to occur or has already begun. You simply pee on a stick (similar to a pregnancy test) to get your results.
This was my favorite way of tracking ovulation for a relatively affordable price. The ClearBlue Digital Ovulation Tracker identifies 4 or more fertile days instead of just the day that ovulation occurs.
It does so by not only detecting the surge of LH, which tells you when ovulation is starting, but a rise in estrogen, signifying that ovulation will be coming in the next few days.
Therefore, you can be prepared for knowing that ovulation will happen soon and start trying immediately. This may give you more chances in that month to conceive.
I love the digital feature of the Clearblue test because there is no questioning whether you see a line, a faint line, or no line. It’s easy to read and gives you fast, simple results.
These Pregmate Ovulation Test Strips work the same way as Clearblue, but are much less expensive. However, they can be tough to read.
If you’re on a tight budget, make sure you at least get these strips because determining the LH surge in your urine is the most important method to tracking ovulation.
Another method is to check the amount and consistency of cervical mucus in the vagina. Throughout a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, the fluid inside her vagina will change from barely there to thin, thicker, slippery, or sticky.
During and around ovulation, the mucus becomes much more abundant in the vagina. It appears to be transparent, like raw egg white, stretchy/elastic, liquidy or watery.
Each day, use 1 clean finger to swab inside your vagina to check your cervical mucus. You may also see the mucus in your underwear without needing to check yourself.
Once you see and feel the increase in cervical mucus and determine it to be the consistency of stretchy, raw egg whites, you can start getting busy because you’re fertile!
Read more about Cervical Mucus Monitoring here.
Basal Body Temperature
This is a method that should be done before trying to conceive as the data will tell you once you have already ovulated. This makes it a poor option to use if trying to conceive that month. However, it does give you insight after-the-fact of whether you indeed ovulated.
A basal body temperature (BBT) is your body’s temperature at rest. Throughout your menstrual cycle, your BBT will remain pretty steady. During ovulation, this temperature will slightly increase by .2 to 1.2 degrees.
When you are charting your temperature on a graph (or through an app), you will be able to see the rise in temperature right after ovulation has occurred.
Once you see that increase, you know that you have ovulated. You are most fertile 2 days before the rise in temperature, therefore it is probably too late to try to conceive that month. However, you can have confidence that you are ovulating and be prepared at the same time next month.
Using a digital thermometer, you will take your temperature orally first thing in the morning. Plot and graph your temperature each day of your cycle using the Ovia Fertility app to visually see when the temperature shows an increase.
You don’t want to use just any digital thermometer. Due to the fact that the rise in temperature can only be a few tenths of a degree, you need a very accurate thermometer.
Record Data Through An App
You will need a place to collect and record all of the information you will be getting from several different tracking methods. Let an app keep all of your data in one place and predict your upcoming most fertile days for you.
It’s highly useful to record all the data you collect by using an app. Ovia Fertility is the perfect companion with many features to record all kinds of data from physical and emotional symptom to data you have collected from the above methods. It then uses it’s technology to make predictions to when you are the most fertile.
Inputting information like basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and LH surge can let the app predict the length of your cycle and when you will be ovulating.
However, if you are just using this method to record when you get your period every month, you may not receive good results. This way, the app will only take into account the average woman’s menstrual cycle.
As you know, not every woman is created equal and may not ovulate at exactly day 14 like some apps predict. Some may ovulate on day 4 or day 25. That’s why this method can be the least accurate.
However, if you use several didn’t methods of tracking your ovulation, this is an extremely helpful resource to keep all that information in one place.
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For myself, I used a combination of detecting my LH and estrogen levels rising, cervical mucus, basal body temperature, and Ovia app. They all provided me with different information to pinpoint what day I was ovulating and made trying to conceive much easier.
Using all of these methods while trying to conceive can be time consuming and anxiety-inducing so try not to take it too seriously. The most important thing is for you and your partner to enjoy each other and not stress yourself out too much with the many struggles of fertility.
If you’ve tried these strategies for several months, it may be best to talk to your OBGYN for a referral to a fertility specialist. It doesn’t mean that you have a problem, but all of your options and potential issues can be best discussed with a medical professional.