You can get pregnant if you have sex during ovulation, which is when one of your ovaries releases an egg into your fallopian tube. However, ovulation lasts for only 12-24 hours, which means that as with so many other things in life, when it comes to getting pregnant, timing is everything.
Knowing when you’re ovulating can be very helpful when you’re trying to conceive, especially if you’ve had trouble getting pregnant in the past. A strategy known as ovulation tracking can help you determine when you are ovulating.
Lauren Rubal MD, our fellowship-trained reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist, explains how you can use ovulation tracking to help you get pregnant.
Ovulation tracking uses several different methods to predict or determine when you’re ovulating.
You can start by using a calendar to keep track of your periods. Ovulation typically takes place about halfway through your cycle. However, the exact timing of ovulation can vary pretty significantly. For women with a typical cycle of 28-32 days, ovulation can occur anytime between day 11 and day 21, according to the American Pregnancy Association. That’s a big window.
Using a calendar to pinpoint ovulation is even more unreliable for women with menstrual periods of varying lengths. If your cycle is irregular, it can be quite challenging to know when you might be ovulating using a calendar alone.
To increase your chances of determining when you’re ovulating, you can use a method known as basal body temperature tracking. Your body temperature increases slightly when you ovulate due to an increase of the hormone progesterone in your blood.
You can identify this rise by taking your temperature each morning before you get out of bed and writing it down. Over time, your temperature data gives you an idea of when you might be ovulating.
You can also use ovulation predictor kits purchased from a drugstore. These kits use the luteinizing hormone in your urine to help predict when ovulation will occur. Other types of kits use saliva to predict ovulation.
Some women find it helpful to look for signs of ovulation in vaginal mucus, which becomes thinner and clearer around the time of ovulation. However, it’s not always easy to evaluate the consistency of vaginal mucus.
Once you have a sense that you may be ovulating soon, you and your partner can have sex every two days for the next week or so. Sperm survives in a woman’s body for a few days, so even if you don’t time intercourse perfectly with ovulation, you may still get pregnant.
If you’re not getting pregnant despite your best efforts, don’t wait too long to seek help. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that couples have a fertility evaluation if they don’t get pregnant after six months to one year of unprotected sex.
Dr. Rubal and our team provide a full range of infertility services, including lifestyle-based treatment. To schedule an appointment at our office in Newport Beach, California, call 949-415-6704 or use our online scheduling tool to make an appointment.