Now that you’ve decided to start a family, the most important thing to remember is the timing. Practicing fertility awareness, that is, tracking your most fertile days, can considerably improve your chances of conceiving. Read on to find out how!
The fertile window: Best time to conceive
There are only 5 days in a woman’s monthly cycle when she can conceive. This includes the day of and the 5 days that precede it. This 5-day period is known as the ‘’. If you are trying to get pregnant, you can pinpoint your fertile window using an ovulation calculator or by tracking physical symptoms of ovulation.
How the cycle works
Day 1 of the menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of the menstrual period. Ovulation is a one-day occurrence and generally occurs nearthe middle of a 28-32 day menstrual cycle. On the day of the ovulation, one of the ovaries releases a mature egg, which lives for about 12-24 hours. Left unfertilized, the egg is passed out of the body during the next period.
Note that if the length of your menstrual cycle varies from month to month, your fertile window between each period may also vary.
Best time for intercourse leading to pregnancy
The 5-day fertile window reflects the life spans of the ovum (approx 24 hours) and sperm (approx 5 days). Since sperm can live as long as 3-5 days inside a woman's body, fertility experts advise having intercourse everyday during the fertile window to maximize your chances of getting pregnant. However, the most effective time for intercourse is one or two days before you ovulate.
Intercourse before the fertile window does not lead to pregnancy. The probability of pregnancy increases from 0 to 10% at the beginning of the fertile window and rises steadily until 2 days before ovulation day, when it’s at its highest, i.e. 33%. At the end of the fertile window, the chances of pregnancy decline rapidly, and become nil again 24 hours after ovulation.
How aging affects fertility
If you wish to start a family, the best time to begin trying is before you turn 35. A woman’s fertility is at its peak in her early 20s. It starts to decline at the age of 30 and drops more steeply post 35. It becomes much more difficult for a woman to conceive naturally during her late 30s or early 40s since there are fewer good quality eggs left. Moreover, manyinfertility-causing conditions usually turn up with age.
However, as a woman gets older, there’s a higher likelihood of conceiving non-identical twins when pregnancy does occur. This is because the body then produces more of the hormone that makes a woman ovulate. Ovulation typically becomes irregular with age and eventually stops altogether when a woman hits menopause, the average age for which is 51.
Think you might be pregnant?
1) Use a pregnancy test calculator to find out the right time to take a pregnancy test. You can get an over-the-counter pregnancy test kit to take a 5-minute pregnancy test at home!
2) A pregnancy test calculator, like the ovulation calculator, also maps your cycle and can predict your fertile window.