The bottom line is that all couples want to know when is the best time to have sex in order to get pregnant. From the egg’s perspective, there is only a 12 to 24 hour period where a woman can conceive. So how do you know when your window of conception is? The answer lies around ovulation. By understanding your ovulation cycle, you can target the optimal time frame for conception. Understanding Ovulation is the key to conception.
The healthier you are, the greater your chances of conceiving and carrying a child full-term. Ideally, you should take at least three months getting healthy and preparing your body for conception.
Some of the most common questions received by health professionals are:
- When does ovulation occur—before or after my period?
- Is it best to have sex before or during ovulation?
- What day of the month gives me the greatest chance of conception?
Those are important questions. To answer them, we need to learn the basics of ovulation.
What is OVULATION?
- To begin, let’s nail down what it exactly means by ovulation.
- Ovulation is the point when an egg is released from the ovary so that it may travel down the fallopian tube and become fertilized by waiting sperm.
- During ovulation, the lining of the uterine wall thickens so that a fertilized egg can become implanted and continue the pregnancy.
To do know list of ESSENTIAL OVULATION
- An egg is only available for fertilization for 12 to 24 hours
- Usually only 1 egg is released during each cycle
- Ovulation often rotates between ovaries
- Light bleeding may occur during ovulation
- It is possible to ovulate even if a period has not occurred
Does ovulation occur before or after my period?
- This is one of the most common questions asked by women beginning to track their ovulation.
- Technically, ovulation should occur around 14 days before your period. However, in terms of tracking your ovulation, it may be better to think of it occurring in the middle, about halfway-between two periods for an average 28 day cycle.
- Let’s assume you have a 28 day cycle each month. If you count 14 days backwards from the first day of any period (the day bleeding starts), or if you count 14 days forwards from the first day of any period, you will find that ovulation should occur on day 14 or 15 or your cycle — either way you count. Because 14, the average day of ovulation, is exactly half of a 28 day cycle, it is mathematically in the middle.
- The problem is no one is average — every woman is different. Your cycles could be 32 days on average and not 28.
- On top of that, cycles are not always the same length each month. One month may be longer than the next. Past history does not always predict the future.
- In fact, as we will see, there is only a small chance ovulation will occur on day 14 of your cycle
THE 14 DAY FALLACY
- Most clinical guidelines, doctors and reproductive professionals still state with absolute certainty that ovulation occurs exactly 14 days before your period regardless of the woman or her cycle. As we know from recent studies, that belief is just wrong. The data shows that ovulation rarely occurs 14 days before a woman’s next period.
- In famous study in 2000, Allen J. Wilcox with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences tracked ovulations in 696 menstrual cycles and found the following…
“Only a small percentage of women ovulate exactly 14 days before the onset of [her period]. This is true even for women whose cycles are usually 28 days long. Among the 69 cycles for 28 days in our study, ovulation occurred 14 days before the next [period] in only 10%. Time from ovulation to next menses ranged from 7 to 19 days (days 10 to 22 of the menstrual cycle).”
- Many couples could be missing critical opportunities for conception each month. For some, the added stress and frustration of months of unsuccessful attempts could be due in part to this false 14 day rule.
So how do I know when ovulation occurs?
- Bottom line, you can’t predict with exact certainty the day ovulation will occur in a given month going strictly off of when your last period started.
- Remember, your last period was triggered by the timing of your last ovulation and has no relation to the next ovulation.
- You could be early or late this month. But on average, ovulation should occur around day 14 or 15 for most women with a 28 day cycle.
FERTILE WINDOW (When should I time sex for the best chance of getting pregnant?)
- Again, it all relates to your ovulation.
- Let’s pretend for a moment we can pinpoint when ovulation will occur.
- According to statistical data, there are exactly 6 days each cycle where you have a chance of conceiving (we know we said the egg was only available for 12 to 24 hours, we’ll explain the difference later). They include the day of ovulation and the 5 days just before ovulation. Outside of this window, your chances drop to near zero.
- In fact, the day two days before ovulation presents the best chance of all, followed by the day before and the day of ovulation.4
- This critical six day window is commonly referred to as your fertile window. Knowing when this six day window occurs in your cycle is important to increase your chance of getting pregnant.
- Notice we said, on average, should, and around. We just can’t rely on what should happen as gospel. Remember the Wilcox study showed it ranged from 7 to 19 days before the next period — and that is just for women with regular 28 day cycles
- But wait, if predicting your day of ovulation is impossible how are you supposed to know when your fertile window is? While it is true that predicting the exact day of your ovulation, and therefore your fertile window, is impossible by estimating off of your last period—we do have some good guesses when it will occur on average. At least that is a start.
THE FERTILE PHASE OF YOUR CYCLE
- The fertile phase of your cycle expands the fertile window (those 6 days of the month where intercourse can result in pregnancy) to include all the days in your cycle in which you may be within the window. That is, the fertile phase includes any day in your cycle where sexual intercourse could result in pregnancy
- We know from the Wilcox study and other statistical research that most women have a 5% or greater chance of being in their fertile window anywhere from day 6 to day 21 of their cycle. Therefore the fertile phase for most women occurs during those 16 days between day 6 and day 21 of the cycle.
- You should focus your efforts on the fertile phase of your cycle— between days 7 and day 20 (or between day 6 and day 21 if you want a little extra insurance). However, if you have a history of irregular cycles, your fertile phase can be much longer. It is important that you learn to recognize your signs of ovulation so at least you know when ovulation has occurred and conception opportunities are over for that month.
Knowing when your ovulation occurs makes it easy for couples to target when to have sex. However, tracking your ovulation based on your last period is problematic. Don’t worry; there are other more reliable ways to track your ovulation. But, be careful. Tracking ovulation can easily become clinical and make sex more of a chore if you are not protective of the relationship and only focused on the job of getting pregnant. It is important to keep the romance and spontaneity in a relationship