Ovulation Cycle Tracking
Ovulation occurs when a mature egg is released from the ovary. After release, the egg travels down the fallopian tube where it waits to be fertilized. Fertility awareness is important to conception. And, it is economical, can determine optimum fertility and promotes communication between partners.
Ovulation cycle tracking is a fertility awareness method that can take some of the guesswork out of predicting your most fertile days of the month and maximize the chances of conception. Once you identify your fertile window, have intercourse frequently during those 5 days. And relax! Yes, relax! Studies suggest that stress interferes with fertility, but not ovulation.
How to Determine Your Fertile Window
The fertile window is determined by the date of ovulation. Thus, it is important to know when you are ovulating. The rule of thumb is that ovulation occurs 14 days before your period begins. If you have regular periods it will be easier to predict ovulation than if your periods are irregular or your cycles are longer than 28 days.
The fertile window is the 6-day period that ends on the day of ovulation. These 6 days include the lifespan of sperm (5 days) and the lifespan of the egg or ovum. Although the egg is only viable for 24 hours, your partner’s sperm can survive and fertilize the egg for up to 5 days after intercourse. Thus, intercourse within 5 days of ovulation (the fertile window) can results in conception. But, intercourse closer to ovulation is the optimum time to conceive. The 3 days leading up to and including ovulation are the most fertile times or your fertility window.
The fertile window depends on the length of your periods. So depending on the length of your menstrual cycle, you can calculate your most fertile days.
- If you have a 28 day cycle- the time between periods- ovulation usually happens on day 14 and the most fertile days are days 12, 13 and 14.
- If you have a 24 day cycle, the most fertile days are days 12-14.
- If you have irregular cycles, we can order blood tests to see if you are ovulating.
Prospectively identifying ovulation and, thus, the fertile period will increase the likelihood of conception. Once you know your ovulation cycle, you can time intercourse for conception.
A recent review of all available studies on ovulation prediction, by the Cochrane Collection, found that ovulation prediction can improve pregnancy rates and reduce unnecessary medical intervention.*
How to Track My Ovulation Cycle
Whichever method you choose, make sure to record the information so you can see patterns in your cycle.
- Urinary hormone measurements – Urinary ovulation predictor kits can be used to detect the rise in luteinizing hormone (LH) that happens just before ovulation. LH is the primary trigger that results in the release of eggs from the ovary.
- Tracking basal body temperature – Basal body temperature is the lowest body temperature over the course of a day. So when you choose this method, you should take your temperature, orally, as soon as you wake up for accurate results. Body temperature often drops immediately before ovulation and spikes shortly after. Tracking your basal body temperature and cervical mucus for at least 2 cycles can help you predict ovulation.
- Cervical mucus monitoring – Cervical mucus is secreted by your cervix around the time you ovulate to assisting in the transport of the sperm to the egg that waits in the fallopian tubes. This is called fertility-quality mucus. Fertility quality cervical mucus is called “egg white cervical mucus” because it looks like egg whites. This is peak mucus, which identifies the fertile window.
- Ovulation prediction kits (OPKs) detect the surge of LH (luteinizing hormone) that precedes ovulation.
- Salivary Estrogen Levels – Changes in salivary estrogen levels can detect your fertile period.
- Calendar charting – This method counts days in the cycle where the beginning of menstruation is day 1, for each cycle. This requires historical data of 2 or more cycles. The more regular you are, the more effective calendaring will be.
- The SDM method is good for women with cycles between 26 and 32 days and uses color-coded beads. But this method is limited during variable menstrual cycles.
You will find numerous tools online to monitor ovulation including ovulation calendars, kits, free calculators, and mobile phone apps. Finally, the goal of all these methods is to focus intercourse during the fertile period.
The highest pregnancy rates are found when a couple has intercourse every 1 to 2 days during the fertile window, because frequent intercourse improves the quality and quantity of sperm. Timed intercourse is associated with higher pregnancy rates compared to intercourse without ovulation prediction in couples trying to conceive.