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Figuring out when you are fertile and thus, when you should have intercourse could just be the single trickiest thing about trying to conceive.

But while any health couple that has regular sex throughout the month has good chances of getting pregnant, you could see that positive pregnancy test quite a bit sooner if you know your cycle, and know when to do the deed.

There are quite a few ways in which women can find out when they are fertile. Some are more reliable than others. Some require more work, while others don't really need you to do all that much. Some cost money, and others are free. Some need you to stick your fingers up your vagina. :) Which one is right for you? We'll go through a few hopefully, you will find the fertility tracking method that works for you personally.

Ovulation calendar

What's an ovulation calendar? There are a few different ways to define that. At the most basic level, it relies on the fact that ovulation tends to take place at a certain point in the menstrual cycle roughly in the middle, let's say. The menstrual cycle consists of three parts, namely the follicular stage, ovulation, and the luteal phase. Follicles grow during the follicular stage, and one (and rarely more than one) is released during ovulation. The luteal phase is the time between ovulation and menstruation. Your period marks the beginning of the next follicular phase, and means you are not pregnant yet. The luteal phase is an average of 14 days long. If the only knowledge you have is the length of your cycles, you can use that average to roughly calculate the day on which you may ovulate. The date of your next expected period minus 14 days equals your expected ovulation date.

We could put that even more simply, actually. Most women menstruate for four to six days. The end of menstrual flow plus a week will land you within the fertile zone. Usually. Using this kind of rudimentary knowledge will actually give you a better chance of conceiving. You could also go to the next level, and sign up for an online ovulation calendar. Enter your average cycle length and the date of the first day of your last menstrual period, and this handy tool will calculate when you are most likely to ovulate. This kind of online ovulation calendar is a mathematical, and not a diagnostic tool. It will usually be quite accurate, however, and plenty of women get pregnant using this method as their guide.

Cervical mucus

Cervical mucus changes throughout the menstrual cycle, and is either receptive to sperm or hostile to it. Once your menstrual flow comes to an end, it will slowly become more stretchy and thin, and will be transparent in color. This is so-called fertile cervical mucus, and it offers a great natural sign that you are approaching ovulation and should be getting busy. Once your ovulation has been and gone, mucus will turn yogurt white, and much thicker than before. That's luteal phase mucus. How do you determine what kind of cervical mucus you are currently producing? Simply said, insert your thumb and index finger and take a peek. Some women are not comfortable doing that, but unless you have really long, sharp nails it should not be painful at all. Your fertility check is over in less than a second, and gives you an awful lot of info. For free, without any special equipment.

Ovulation signs and symptoms

Cervical mucus is one of the body's natural ovulation symptoms, but there are a few others that some women notice. These don't require you to take special action, just to be a little more alert to your body. Keeping in mind that ovulation occurs roughly 14 days before the day your next period will start if you do not get pregnant, watch out for:

  • Tender breasts, that may be a little bigger than they usually are.
  • Some women experience what is called ovulation pain, a distinct but faint pain. This pain occurs in the lower abdomen on either the left or right side, depending on which ovary is releasing the egg.
  • Ovulation bleeding is another sign that you have ovulated. See this as a confirmation that you were ovulating to use as a guide in the future when it happens, your fertile period has passed. Only a minority of women has this slight spotting.

Ovulation predictor kits

Ovulation predictor kits or ovulation tests. Whatever you want to call them, these urine testing kits that look just like pregnancy tests are definitely a very reliable and simple way to find out when you ovulate. Ovulation tests measure a surge in the hormone Luteinizing Hormone (LH), which only occurs right before ovulation. Once you get a positive ovulation test, you know it's your prime time to have intercourse. Are you going to use these tests? Don't forget to also have sex in the days before your positive test between the end of your menstrual flow and your positive test. Sperm can survive for up to seven days in the reproductive system, you know? You could have lots of tiny swimmers already waiting for your egg inside the Fallopian tube.

Basal body temperature

Measuring your basal body temperature is another pretty reliable way to find out when you ovulate. This one takes a little more work than just peeing on a stick, however. With the BBT method, a woman measures her temperature every day, very early in the morning. You have to have been asleep right before you took the test, and should not have been engaged in any activity. Most women using this method will set their alarm clock to take their temperature and write it down. The basic idea is that your temperature rises during the luteal phase of the cycle. This method requires work and experience. You can use an online charting system like Fertility Friend to make it easier for you, but some women will still be confused.

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