|When Is A Woman Most Fertile?
A woman is most fertile on the day she ovulates and for about 24 hours afterwards. Usually a woman ovulates 14 days before the first day of her period. That is, 14 days before the first day of normal blood flow (whatever is normal for her, it does not mean a day or two of light spotting before full flow arrives). If you have a very regular cycle of 28 days, this means you are most fertile on day 14 before (or after) the first day of your period. However, there is a snag! Most women do not have a menstrual cycle that runs like clockwork every 28 days. In fact, only 10 percent of women have what is considered a 'normal' cycle. The rest of us have cycles as short as 25 days or as long as 31 days. This means, if you ovulate 14 days before your period, and your cycle is 25 days, then you will ovulate on day 11. If you plan to have sex on day 12 or 13, you may miss your ovulation window for that month. If you have a long cycle, say every 31 days, then you will not ovulate until day 17 of your cycle.
Bottom Line: Generally speaking the most fertile time for a woman to get pregnant is day 12 to 16 after the first day of her last period. The least likely time to fall pregnant is between day 1 and 7. However, if you are hoping to conceive a baby, you may need to be a bit more scientific and plan your fertility better.
Questions Your Doctor Might Ask And What He Means
How long are your cycles?
He is asking how many days pass between the first day of your period and the first day of your next period. While 28 days is considered typical, as we have seen, this cycle can be as short as 25 days or as long as 31 days. A cycle longer than 35 days is a common sign of PCOS. It can also be a sign of endometriosis and thyroid disease (some of the common causes of infertility in women).
How long is your period?
He wants to know how many days you bleed at normal flow (normal for you). This does not include a day or two spotting you may have before you bleed properly. A regular bleed can last anywhere between 3 and 7 days. Longer than 7 days is considered a heavy period (medical term Menorrhagia) which can cause anemia because of excessive blood loss.
How Long Does Sperm Live?
In the right conditions (usually snug inside the fallopian tube), sperm can live up to 5 days in a woman, although 2 to 3 days is more typical. This means, if you have sex 2 or 3 days before you ovulate, you may still fall pregnant. Eggs on the other hand die much faster, and only tend to live about 24 hours before they die.
How Can I Track My Most Fertile Days?
Your most fertile day is the day you ovulate. There are several methods for tracking ovulation, some have been around for generations, others are more recent advancements. These include:
Body Basal Temperature
Tracking your body basal temperature (BBT) every morning is one of the oldest methods of predicting ovulation. A BBT is your normal body temperature. Using a special BBT thermometer, you take your temperature first thing in the morning before getting out of bed. You then record the result on a chart. Usually the temperature will climb on the day of ovulation. BBT can also be used as a natural birth control method for preventing pregnancy.
As you approach ovulation you should notice that any vaginal discharge becomes thin and slippery. This discharge comes from the cervix. By becoming slippery, it allows sperm to glide more easily through the cervix. At other times in the month, the mucus is thick, cloudy and scantier (because it is protecting the womb from bacteria entering from the vagina).
Ovulation Predictor Kits
Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPK's) look like home pregnancy tests; they your urine to test for signs of ovulation. Usually you start testing about day 16 before your next period, but if you have irregular periods you may need to test earlier to make sure you don't miss the day of ovulation. If you don't ovulate, this may be a sign of female infertility. Before attending a fertility clinic you will be asked to monitor your cycle for a few months, so this process is important. Fortunately in many cases, ovulation problems are easily corrected with the use of fertility drugs.
A fertility monitor is a small handheld device that tests your urine, like an OPK. However the computer in the device stores the data and can predict when you will ovulate. You will need to start testing on day one of your period and continue testing every day. If your cycle is irregular, it will self-correct its predictions accordingly. It can also be used in combination with fertility drugs. Downside? The cost. Most good monitors cost about $200.