Falling pregnant seems like it should be the easiest thing in the world. Shopping malls are filled with rounded bellies and newborn babies are pretty much everywhere one looks. But as many women who are eager to start a family can tell you, natural conception isn’t always as simple as one night of romance. To improve your chances of success, it pays to get to know your body and your fertility cycle, so that you can tell when you are ovulating – a key part of making a baby – and when to haul the candles out.
How long is a fertility cycle?
Day 1 of a fertility, or menstrual cycle, is calculated from the first day of your period and reboots when your next period begins. A typical cycle lasts between 24 and 38 days and its pattern may vary with age. No two bodies are the same, which is why it’s important to get to know your natural rhythms and work with them to maximise your chances of conceiving your bundle of joy.
What is ovulation?
Ovulation happens once in every fertile cycle. It occurs when a mature egg is released from your ovary and moves down the fallopian tube. Your chance of getting pregnant is at its highest when live sperm are present in the fallopian tubes and in a perfect world – the egg will be fertilised, creating an embryo, which can grow into a healthy baby.
How do you know when you are ovulating?
Ovulation happens halfway through your cycle (usually around day 14 of a 28-day cycle). But because each body is different, it pays to track your cycle and look out for some telltale signs. There are many ways to identify when you’re ovulating, or when you’re in the “fertile window” part of your cycle:
- You can use a menstrual calendar or App to record your natural rhythms.
- You can use an over-the-counter ovulation kit that tests your urine for the surge in hormones that take place before ovulation.
- You can also use a special thermometer to check your basal temperature every morning. You’re most fertile when your resting temperature falls slightly and then rises again 2 or 3 days before you ovulate.
Your body will give you physical cues too:
- Your cervical mucusbecomes clearer and thinner.
- Many women report breast tenderness, cramping and bloating.
Let’s talk LH
The female body is wonderful and complex and is filled with hormones that rise and fall at different times in the menstrual cycle to prepare for pregnancy. One of the key hormones is the Luteinizing hormone (LH), which is present in natural ovulation. The presence of LH in your body can signal that the time is right to have sex.
LH is also a key indicator used by fertility clinics to know precisely when to retrieve mature eggs for use in traditional in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment. Fertility medications are often used to encourage the production and maturation of multiple eggs, increasing the chances of successful conception. However, it is the type and severity of the medicines used that differentiated conventional IVF from natural or mild IVF treatments, which use less aggressive hormone stimulation to achieve high success rates in a manner that is safer for mom and her baby.
Ready, steady, romance
So now that you know about the prime time to conceive, keep an eye out for your body’s tell tale signs and get ready for a night (or day) of romance!