Whether you want to become pregnant or avoid becoming pregnant, you need to learn how to track your fertility cycle. Although each woman’s cycle can vary greatly, the average woman has a 28 day cycle. Her most fertile day is 14 days earlier on the 14th day of her cycle. Even if your cycle is longer or short, you can calculate your fertility by subtracting 14 days from the length of your normal menstrual cycle. Once you have calculated this number, you will know the best day to have sex if you want to conceive.
If you do not want to get pregnant, you will obviously want to avoid having sex on that day. Since ovulation can vary and sperm can stay in your body for up to five days, you do not want to have unprotected intercourse for the time period that starts five days before your ovulation and ends three days after your ovulation has passed.
When Is a Woman Most Fertile?
There are many contributing factors to your fertility. From genetics to smoking habits, these factors can help you determine just how fertile your body will be. For the best chances of getting pregnant, you need to be in your best physical and emotional health possible.
Your Age Matters
Your age is one of the most important factors affecting your fertility. On average, most women are at their peak levels of fertility when they are between the ages of 19 and 26 years old. Afterward, your fertility will decline every year. According to statistics, women who are 27 to 34 years old have a 40 percent lower chance of getting pregnant compared to women who are between the ages of 19 and 26 years old.
Once you have reached the age of 35 years old, the chances drop 30 percent. Your partner’s age also matters. Since sperm quality and quantity of sperm decreases with age, an older partner will be less likely to get your pregnant. This is especially true if your partner is five years or more older than you.
Ovulation and Your Fertility
The only time you can get pregnant is when you are ovulating. You either have to have sex when you are ovulating, or there still has to be sperm in your body present from a previous sexual encounter. Sperm can last for a maximum of five days, so you have to have sex within five days of ovulation to have a chance of getting pregnant. In general, ovulation will occur at these times:
- On day 10 of a 24 day ovarian cycle
- On day 14 of a 28 day ovarian cycle
- On day 21of a 35 day ovarian cycle
Most women have a menstrual cycle that lasts from 24 to 35 days. Your menstrual cycle begins counting on the first day of your period and ends when your next period starts. In order to plan when you can get pregnant, you can generally assume that you will ovulate 12 to 16 days before your period would start.
Improving Your Fertility
Eating the Right Foods
The foods and herbs that you eat can have an enormous impact on your fertility. In general, you should look for nutrient rich foods that are high in folic acid, fiber, omega fatty acids and anti-oxidants. Try to consume plenty of fish, vegetables, whole grains, fruits and high fiber foods. Herbs like Dong Quai, palmetto, gingko biloba, primrose oil, ginseng and alfalfa can help to stabilize your hormones and boost the regularity of your cycle. Just in case, make sure to check with your health care provider before starting any supplement or medication.
Massages can help to stimulate your blood circulation and increase the flow of blood to your reproductive organs. It can also speed the processing of chemicals and toxins that are already in your body.
Yoga and meditation are amazing at boosting your mental well-being. Since stress can reduce your chances of getting pregnant, you need to embrace relaxation. Yoga can also help to stabilize your hormone levels and boost blood flow to your ovaries. For best results, you should avoid drinking or smoking since both activities can decrease your fertility levels.
Tracking Your Fertility
For the most success in getting (or not getting) pregnant, you need to track your fertility. You can try using the following methods:
1. Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Method
This method measures your basal body temperature to figure out if you are ovulating. Right before and during ovulation, your basal body temperature rises by one to two degrees. If you chart your body temperature each day, you will notice these small changes in your body temperature.
2. Combined (Symptothermal) Method
This technique basically combines multiple fertility tracking methods. While each technique is fairly accurate, combining the results of all the techniques will give you the best results. Due to this, you may want to track your BBT, cervical mucus discharges, hormones in your blood and other indicators.
3. Cervical Mucus Method
Also known as the Billings method, this technique involves looking at the consistency of your cervical mucus. When you are ovulating, your mucus will appear stringy, thin and clear. If you are not ovulating, the cervical mucus may appear thick or cloudy. It may even be absent entirely at certain times of your menstrual cycle.
4. Calendar (Rhythm) Method
This method is fairly simple to use. All you have to do is keep in mind when your menstrual cycle begins and ends. Afterward, you can assume that ovulation happens 12 to 16 days before the beginning of your next period. Since sperm can remain viable for up to five days, this means that you could start trying to get pregnant 17 to 21 days before the end of your menstrual cycle. Although this technique is not exceptionally accurate, it is still fairly effective.
5. Hormone Monitoring
To make your life a little easier, try using an ovulation predictor kit. Sold at most drug stores, these kits track the changes in the hormone that is in your urine. It tests for luteinizing hormone in your body to determine if you are ovulating or not. If you don’t like tracking your period in calendars or checking your cervical mucus, this technique may be the best for you.
6. Standard Days Method (SDM)
Cycle beads can help you to determine when you are most likely to get pregnant. This is effective for women who have menstrual cycles of 26 to 32 days. The day your period starts is day 1, and it corresponds to the red bead. After that, you can count down each bead as your menstrual cycle progresses throughout the month.