Depending on the choice you make, you may have to spend a considerable amount of time and effort to find out when you ovulate, and you may or may not end up with an accurate ovulation date. Jewish family purity laws are not necessarily about maximizing the chance of pregnancy during any given month, but they can certainly have that side effect. You don't have to be Jewish to benefit from these principles, either! Wanna know more?
What is Taharat Ha-Mishpachah?
Jewish family purity laws (Taharat Ha-Mishpachah in Hebrew) are designed around the prohibition to have intercourse during menstruation. During this time, observant Jewish couples are not intimate with each other at all they don't even touch, in case the touch leads to something more, and usually don't sleep in the same bed. This separation lasts a minimum of 12 days. Menstrual flow lasts between four and six days for the average woman, and Talmudic scholars determined (for some reason) that menstruation itself should last at least five days.
That means a woman would count at least five days as being menstrual days, even if she only bleeds for three days. After the menstrual flow has come to a halt, the woman counts seven "clean" days before the period of separation (called niddah) is over. She does this by inserting little white cloths for inspection (bedikot). In the evening of the seventh clean day, after the woman has immersed herself in a ritual bath, the mikvah, the couple is good to go.
OK, what's that got to do with me?
You may be wondering how on earth family purity laws are supposed to help you get pregnant. Let's say that your menstrual flow lasts five days, and you simply count seven days after you stopped menstruating. That's 5+7 =12. This is a pretty great time to start having intercourse if your goal is to get pregnant. The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, though many last a little longer or shorter. The average luteal phase (the part of the cycle that takes place after ovulation) lasts 14 days.
You have a maximum of seven fertile days before you ovulate, because sperm can live inside your reproductive tract for that long. If you abstain from sex during menstruation (which many couples naturally do because let's face it, most of us find the idea a little gross) and seven days after you've stopped menstruating, you and your partner are both going to be pretty desperate and are likely to be at it all the time right during that famous fertile window!
Research shows that couples who have sex every day have the largest chance of getting pregnant during any one month (37 percent), but that is probably only because those folks are guaranteed to do the deed on their fertile days. A little bit of abstinence really does help make your partner more desirable. It gives you and your other half the incentive to focus on completely different things during the time you are not having sex (like talking and cleaning the house), and then brings you especially close together in the bedroom when the restriction is lifted. OK, so unless you an observant Jew, it's unlikely that you will really follow the family purity laws. I started becoming observant-ish fairly recently and we're not there yet either.
Staying away from your husband for a full 12 days or longer is hard. But I think it's extremely interesting that these laws, which have been in place since before ovulation was a well-understood phenomenon, time things in such a way that you really do have a big chance of getting pregnant. There's a lot to learn from these and other traditional principles surrounding marital health and conception. Here at Trying To Conceive, we've cover practically every method men and women can use to increase their fertility and chances of getting pregnant fast. The more knowledge you have, the more likely it is that you will end up with a system that works for you though, hopefully not for too long, because the whole idea is that you get pregnant.