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Have you chosen to find out when you are fertile? The next question is how you'll do it.

Couples who are trying to conceive have to choose from one of two strategies they can either have intercourse when they feel like it and see what happens, or attempt to boost their chances of getting pregnant soon by detecting ovulation and timing sex.

There is no shortage of ovulation-detection methods ovulation calendars, ovulation tests, cervical mucus, basal body temperature (BBT), and recognizing your body's natural ovulation symptoms. Some methods are more reliable than others, but some are more work than others as well. What is your best way to detect ovulation?

Ovulation calendars

Ovulation calendars are simple tools that help you figure out when you are likely to ovulate by using the information you already have about your menstrual cycle. You can find ovulation calendars online and start using them by entering some data, but you can also make your own with a piece of paper and a pencil. How does an ovulation calendar work? Women who are interested in using one need to know the average length of their menstrual cycle as well as the date their last period started.

This information is than used to determine when the next period is likely to commence. Count back 14 days the average length of a woman's luteal phase or the time between ovulation and menstruation and you've got a suspected ovulation date. Ovulation calendars aren't a high-tech method, and there is no guarantee that you will ovulate on the day your calculation predicted. They do give you a good idea of your fertile window, which starts about six days before ovulation. Don't use ovulation calendars as a guide on when not to have sex, but do use them as a helpful guide.

Ovulation tests

Ovulation tests are also called ovulation predictor kits. They are urine tests you can do at home, much like home pregnancy tests. Because ovulation tests react to a luteinizing hormone, a hormone released only when ovulation is about to occur, they are extremely reliable. It's best to take ovulation tests early in the afternoon, when luteinizing hormone is most concentrated in the urine. Ovulation tests can be a little pricey, but they have one other disadvantage while they will absolutely tell you when you are about to ovulate, they don't allow you to get a good idea of your fertile window in advance. The six or so days before you ovulate definitely have the potential to lead to pregnancy, because your partner's sperm can survive during this time and could be waiting for your egg when it is released.

Cervical mucus

Cervical mucus may be a yucky word, but the mucus produced by your cervix gives you a lot of information about your health and your fertility. If you monitor it frequently, by inserting a finger and examining the look of the mucus, you'll see that it changes throughout the month. The beginning of the cycle, just after menstruation ends, is "dry" without much mucus. As ovulation approaches, mucus will increase in quantity and also become more stretchy. Egg-white, stretchy cervical mucus indicates fertility. After ovulation, mucus becomes white, thicker, and more creamy. Cervical mucus is a free and pretty reliable way to detect ovulation.

Basal body temperature (BBT)

When you ovulate, your body temperature rises slightly about half a degree Fahrenheit or a quarter to half a degree Celsius. Basal body temperature, or BBT for short, refers to the lowest temperature your body reaches in a state of rest. That means you have to measure it first thing in the morning, before you even get out of bed. Women who are willing to measure their BBT early in the morning every day have a great fertility-monitoring method at their disposal. While using BBT to track ovulation does have a learning curve, websites that make the process easy are available to anyone who is willing to make the effort. Observing a rise in BBT and changes in cervical mucus can both be considered to be "natural" ovulation-tracking techniques.

Some women don't need to make the effort though there are women who have a slight ovulation pain in their abdomen when they ovulate, on the side where the egg is being released that month. Some women also bleed a little when they ovulate.

Whatever method you end up choosing to detect ovulation, it will give you the feeling that you are doing something to boost your chances of pregnancy. These methods can be really helpful, but don't let them suck the pleasure out of your sex life.

  • Infographic by SteadyHealth.com
  • Infographic by SteadyHealth.com

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