When's Your Most Fertile Time?
Many women today are postponing pregnancy until their 30s while they seek higher education, career choices or other life goals. Yet the maximum fertility time is in the mid-twenties, the time when a woman’s menstrual cycle and ovulation are most regular.
Age and your fertility
Presently, a woman’s age is the largest barrier to pregnancy and fertility therapy. While fertility is decreased after age 30, women over age 37 are much less fertile. In fact, the chances of pregnancy in any one month decrease from 20 percent in women over age 30 to five percent in women over age 40.
If you’re struggling to conceive, you may wonder how to determine your most fertile time. Here are some tips to help you understand your menstrual cycle and ovulation and boost the chances of pregnancy:
Learn all about ovulation
Major breakthroughs in fertility testing and treatments have improved a woman’s chances of pregnancy as she ages. Today, more couples than ever are undergoing high-tech treatments, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), hoping to have a baby. Yet, what’s surprising is that many couples don’t know anything about ovulation—the key step in the conception process! Learn the facts about ovulation here.
- With the process of ovulation, one or more eggs are released from the woman’s ovary. When the male sperm fertilizes the egg(s), conception occurs.
- According to a World Congress on Fertility and Sterility survey, 20 percent of problems are related to the couple’s failure to time intercourse properly during the female’s fertile time.
- A man’s sperm can stay alive for a few days inside a woman’s reproductive tract. However, a woman’s egg can only live for up to 24 hours after ovulation. This limits the timeframe when pregnancy is most likely to occur.
- To boost the chances of pregnancy, women should observe their body’s most fertile time. Generally, a woman’s most fertile period is a several-day period of time that ends on the day after ovulation has taken place.
- The male’s sperm can survive in the reproductive tract until ovulation and fertilization occur. Data from healthy women trying to get pregnant shows that nearly all pregnancies are linked to sexual intercourse during the six-day period that leads up to and ends at ovulation.
Because a woman’s menstrual cycle can vary, identifying the most fertile time is not easy to do! Here are some recommended methods to use to determine when you’re most likely to get pregnant:
- Chart your cycle on a calendar. You can chart your menstrual cycle and ovulation to visually see the days when you are most likely to ovulate.
- Take your Basal Body Temperature (BBT). The BBT is your temperature first thing in the morning. Take this temperature using a digital thermometer before you do any activity or get out of bed. Normally, a woman’s BBT goes up almost one degree immediately after ovulation. You can do several charts to see a distinct pattern.
- Check the consistency of cervical mucus. Usually, a woman’s cervix produces mucus that shields the body from bacteria and other organisms, even sperm. But for a few days each month, the cervical mucus consistency changes. This change in consistency happens to let sperm enter the fallopian tubes. By monitoring your cervical mucus changes, you may be able to find your most fertile time.
- Use the Sympto-Thermal Method. This method uses a combination of charting indicators to find out a woman’s most fertile time. Indicators with the Sympto-Thermal method may include taking your BBT and monitoring changes in cervical mucus.
Keep in mind that none of these charting methods are fool proof. A cold virus or bacterial infection can change these conditions.
Tests you might need
A woman’s fertile period starts with higher levels of estrogen. An increase in the levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) indicates ovulation will occur usually within about 24 to 36 hours.
A fertility monitor is another, newer approach to finding a woman’s most fertile time. Based on urine tests, this monitor records a woman’s daily fertility level (low, high, peak).
The ovulation predictor kit is another test to use at home. This kit measures LH levels to help women determine the most fertile period. This test can help determine the best time for intercourse.
Other factors may cause infertility
While it’s helpful to be aware of ovulation and ways to assess a woman’s most fertile time, there are other factors that can result in infertility, even when a woman is ovulating. These include:
- Previous tubal ligation or surgery
- A medical history of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or infection
- Scar tissue that’s left from a previous surgery
- Absence of menstrual cycles or irregular periods
- Male factor infertility
When to see a fertility specialist
No matter what your age or situation, it’s not too soon to discuss the basics of ovulation testing. If you and your partner have a specific history of ovulation disorders, menstrual cycle irregularity, potential male factor, or if you are over age 35, don’t delay in seeing a fertility specialist for a thorough fertility investigation.
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