For a woman hoping to become pregnant, every month is like running a race. You see the end in sight and it looks so close—as though you may just make it—but then the race is over and you find you never made it to the finish line. Another month has gone by and you haven't conceived.
The Odds of Getting Pregnant
Of course, you know that part of winning this particular race is figuring out the best time to have conception sex. That means predicting the time of your menstrual cycle when the odds of conception are in your favor. The most fertile time of a woman's cycle is during ovulation.
Knowing when ovulation will occur gives you a boost in your efforts to conceive. But there's a learning curve to understanding the patterns of your own menstrual cycle. That's what this section is all about: teaching you how to read your own body and its unique patterns regarding fertility. We give you the tools to predict ovulation so you can plan ahead.
Low-Tech Method for Predicting Ovulation
Thanks to advances in medicine and technology, a woman now has many methods on which she can rely to predict the time she will ovulate. The most low-tech method is to count the days of the menstrual cycle. You need only a calendar and a writing utensil to use this method.
Mark the day on which your menstrual period begins. This is considered day one of your cycle. Ovulation should occur mid-cycle. If the average period lasts 28 days, the average woman ovulates on day 14 of her cycle.
In addition to the time-tested practice of counting days, you can also use your cervical mucus as a reliable barometer for predicting ovulation. Throughout a woman's cycle, the cervical mucus is changing. At the time a woman is most fertile, the cervical mucus will have great elasticity, a thin watery texture, and be clear rather than white or opaque.
About one-fifth of all women will experience some lower abdominal discomfort at the time of ovulation. This type of pelvic pain is known as mittelschmerz from the German words for "middle" and "pain." The pain may be of short duration or last a few hours. But it is believed that the pain signifies that ovulation is taking place.
Yet another method involves measuring slight temperature increases. Ovulation comes with a body temperature increase of between 0.5-1.6 degrees. You wouldn't notice this rise in temperature as an actual fever, but it is a good sign that ovulation is occurring. By measuring your temperature each day, you can begin to see the patterns of your own cycle and use this to identify the time you will ovulate during the course of your cycle.
Perhaps the easiest, if not least expensive option for predicting ovulation is the ovulation prediction kit. You can buy one over-the-counter at any pharmacy. But not all of these kits are accurate. It pays to ask your doctor for a recommendation before you make your purchase. A positive result shows that ovulation will occur within the next 12-48 hours.