We will all have learned the basics of the female reproduction system and the menstrual cycle from our school biology class, well time for a little recap.
The menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones. Rising levels of oestrogen in our body cause the ovary to release an egg (ovulation) and the lining of the womb starts to thicken. After ovulation, progesterone helps the lining of the womb to further thicken, ready for pregnancy. If pregnancy doesn’t occur the egg is absorbed into the body. Then, falling levels of oestrogen and progesterone result in the lining of the womb coming away better known to us all as a period.
The timing of all this varies from woman to woman, but the typical menstrual cycle is between 27 – 34 days.
Approximately 10-16 days before your next period is due the egg is released into the fallopian tube. This is ovulation.
The first day of your period is counted as day 1 of your cycle. Your body releases a hormone called FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) which is the signal to your ovaries to stimulate the production of an egg or eggs. Approximately 10-16 days before your next period is due the egg is released into the fallopian tube. This is ovulation. An egg will live from 12 to 24 hours and this is the most fertile time.
The best time to conceive is during this fertile window.
The worst thing you can do for your body at this time is get stressed or anxious.
Interesting fact is that sperm can live for up to 7 days. So to maximise your chances of getting pregnant have unprotected sex during the week leading up to ovulation. Continue this for a few days afterwards too.
You can calculate when you are most fertile but in order to do this you need to know your menstrual cycle very well.
To best predict your fertile time make a note of the length of at least your last 6 periods (6 to 12 if possible).
Subtract 20 days from your shortest Cycle e.g.: 28-20 = 8 This is the start day of becoming fertile.
Subtract 10 days from your longest cycle e.g.: 32 – 10 = 22 This is the estimated final day of fertile window.
Based on this example between day 8 and day 22 is the fertile window.
This is not an exact science but will give you an idea of when is best for you to conceive.
There are also some other physical signs of ovulation:
- Breast Tenderness
- Mild Abdominal pain and distention
- Increase in Basal Body Temperature: This is usually unnoticed but a slight increase of between 0.2-0.4 degrees celsius in resting body temperature can signal that ovulation is occurring.
- Change in Cervical Mucus – Vaginal secretions become clearer and thinner to help sperm swim to the egg.
There are also ovulation kits that are available in most pharmacies. If you have any specific questions about getting pregnant, the best person to speak with is your doctor.