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Are you trying to conceive or planning to start soon? You'll probably want to take some steps that maximize your chances of getting pregnant as quickly as possible.

Are you ready to add a baby to your family? Of course, you'd love to get pregnant as soon as possible. While there are never any guarantees and timing is largely left up to nature, there are many things you can do to boost your chances of conceiving in the near future. 

Find Out When You Ovulate

Pregnancy is impossible if sperm and egg never get a chance to come together. The opportunity for this to happen, also called the "fertile window", lasts no longer than five days. Once the egg is released during ovulation, it only lives for 12 to 24 hours. It is only thanks to the fact that sperm cells can survive inside the female reproductive system for up to five days that the fertile window is open for a while longer than that one day. 

Those who are serious about getting pregnant as soon as they can need to figure out when they ovulate, at least approximately. It really is as simple as that. While it is true that simply having intercourse every day or every other day will give you about the same chance of conceiving, that just doesn't give the same peace of mind that you're doing everything you can. Besides that, not everyone wants to do the deed that often and turning sex into a chore usually doesn't do your relationship much good.

Realizing that you want to find out when you ovulate is easy. Choosing the method that appeals to you is a little trickier, because there are so many options. 

Let's start with the simplest possibility. You can find out how long your cycle is on average by making a note of the first day of all your periods. The post-ovulation stage of your cycle, called the luteal phase, doesn't vary nearly as much from woman to woman as the length of menstrual cycles does. In fact, your average luteal phase lasts 14 days. If you subtract 14 days from the day your next period is due, you have a good idea of when you might be ovulating. Voila, your own personal ovulation calendar. And by the way, count the five days before expected ovulation as fertile.

Your next option is as easy, but will cost you a little. We're talking about ovulation tests, which are also called ovulation predictor kits. These tests look for luteinizing hormone, the hormone that makes its appearance just as you are about to ovulate. Start peeing on the sticks — at about 12 noon, unlike pregnancy tests which produce the strongest results early in the morning — about seven days after the first day of your period. When your test comes back positive, you know that now (!!!) is the time to get active. Do not neglect the days before your positive test though, and do have intercourse during most of the days on which you test to maximize your chances of pregnancy.

BBT, short for "basal body temperature", is another popular ovulation-detecting method. Your BBT is the lowest temperature your body gets to in a state of rest. That means you have to take it right after waking up, every morning. You can even set your alarm early, take your BBT, and go back to sleep for another few hours. A slight rise in temperature (a quarter to half a degree Celsius or half to a whole degree Fahrenheit) marks ovulation. Your temperature will remain slightly higher throughout the luteal phase of your cycle. With the help of online charting sites, you can gain a very good insight into the way your cycle behaves. You can predict ovulation and figure out when your fertile window starts.

Another thing you can do — for free — is to monitor your own cervical mucus. This might sound yucky, but is very informative.

Here's how you can expect your mucus to change. First, you have menstruation. That one is obvious. Right after menstruation, you'll have next to no mucus. As you move closer to ovulation, your mucus will become more generous. A stretchy, transparent consistency indicates you are in your fertile window. If you move your thumb and index finger apart, the mucus will form a thin stretchy line. This kind of mucus is friendly to sperm and helps your chances of conceiving along.

Once your luteal phase starts, your mucus will become white in color. It's ticker and more creamy too, keeping harmful agents from passing from your vagina to the cervix and beyond — where they may harm that newly fertilized egg that is making its way down. Then, if you don't get pregnant, you'll menstruate again and the cycle begins afresh.

Some women are lucky enough to get natural signs that they are ovulating. Ovulation pain may sound nasty, but it only lasts for a while and indicates that you are fertile.

It happens to about 20 percent of women, and presents as a slight, sharp (but not really heavy) pain in your lower abdomen around the ovaries. It will typically occur on one sight one month, and on the other side the next. Some women even notice a slight bleeding along with this, a phenomenon that is known as ovulation pain.

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