Woman and man holding pregnant belly

For couples who are trying to conceive, ovulation is a crucial part of the journey to conception. Being aware of your ovulation cycle and how it works can improve your chances of pregnancy, so your dream of becoming a parent comes true. Here is what to know about ovulation.

What Is Ovulation?

Ovulation is the period of a woman’s cycle when her ovary releases a mature egg. The egg will travel through the Fallopian tubes on its way to the uterus. The uterus will make its lining thicker than usual to prepare for pregnancy.

If a man’s sperm joins with the egg, this combination is called a zygote. The zygote will implant itself into the uterine lining and begin pregnancy. If the sperm does not fertilize the egg, the egg will live for 12 to 24 hours. After that time, the egg will dissolve, and the uterus will shed its lining. The shedding begins the woman’s menstrual cycle.

How Will I Know When I’m Ovulating?

You may begin to notice some signs that you are ovulating in the few days before your ovary releases the egg. Symptoms include:

  • Change in your vaginal discharge: Normal discharge is typically clear. During ovulation, your cervical discharge will change to resemble raw egg whites. This mucus helps the sperm swim up into the uterus and acts as a lubricant to make intercourse easier and pleasurable.
  • Higher basal body temperature: This term refers to your temperature when your body is at rest. After you’ve ovulated, your body’s progesterone levels will rise, which will cause an increase in your body temperature. Once you’re pregnant, your progesterone and estrogen levels will remain higher.
  • Increased sex drive: When you are ovulating, both your and your partner’s sex drives will rise, thanks to hormones. During times when you notice that you have a high libido, you may be ovulating soon.
  • Tenderness in breasts: The hormones your body produces after ovulation may cause your breasts to be more sensitive than normal.
  • Mittelschmerz pain: Also known as ovulation pain, Mittelschmerz pain is the term for a sharp and sudden pain in your side during the middle of your cycle just before you ovulate. This sensation is temporary, and you may not experience it every month.

How Can I Keep Track of My Ovulation Cycle?

There are a variety of methods available you can use to record your ovulation cycle. Pick the method that works best for you:

  • Ovulation predictor test strips: This method works similarly to pregnancy tests because you will urinate on a strip. It detects increases in your luteinizing hormone. When your body experiences this surge, you will likely ovulate in the next 12 to 36 hours. Test for five to 10 days in a row for the most accurate information.
  • Saliva ferning: During your fertile period, your saliva will have unique crystal formations. For this test, you will put a drop of your saliva on a lens. Once it’s dry, examine it under a microscope. If your saliva has crystals that look like ferns, you will likely ovulate in the next 24 to 72 hours.
  • Record your basal body temperature: Use a basal body thermometer at the same time every morning before you get out of bed to measure your basal body temperature. Mark it on a calendar. If your temperature reading is 0.5 to 0.8 degrees higher than normal, you have likely ovulated within the past day. After a few months of records, you will be familiarized with your body patterns and know your most fertile periods to increase your chances of pregnancy.
  • Track it on a calendar: If you have regular and predictable periods, the calendar method will work. Ovulation likely occurs around 14 days before your menstrual cycle, give or take. Mark the day you started your period on a calendar, then mark the day you start your next period. The number of days between these events is your cycle. Chart this at least six times for the most accurate results.

How Does Ovulation Work With My Menstrual Cycle?

The day you start your period marks the first day of your cycle. During this time, one of your eggs will mature. Your ovary releases this egg around day 14 of your cycle. After the ovulation phase is the luteal phase and is when pregnancy may occur. If you do not become pregnant, you will have your period, and the cycle starts over.

During the cycle, you may ovulate two or three times, or release more than one egg during one ovulation. If the sperm fertilizes both of these eggs, you will have fraternal twins. Though it is unlikely, there is a chance that you could become pregnant while you are having your period.

When and How Often Should My Partner and I Have Sex to Conceive?

Once you have determined your day of ovulation, you can become pregnant by having sex up to six days before as well as the day of. This time frame is your fertile period. Because sperm can live in your reproductive system for up to five days after intercourse, they can survive in your system before your ovary releases your egg and fertilize the egg when it is released.

Having intercourse once during your fertile period may be all you need to become pregnant. For best results, have sex every day or every other day during this time, especially during the time frame of two days before ovulation through ovulation day. Intercourse after this time may not result in pregnancy.

What Can I Do to Promote Healthy Ovulation?

Your lifestyle before you become pregnant will impact your ability to get pregnant, how your pregnancy goes and your baby’s health once they are born. The healthier you are, the healthier your eggs will be since they take several weeks to mature. Include these tips into your routine:

  • Take a zinc supplement: Recent studies have suggested that zinc promotes healthy egg development. Be sure that your diet includes zinc or take a supplement.
  • Get enough folic acid: Low folic acid levels are associated with infertility, miscarriage and congenital disabilities. Get 400 micrograms of folic acid every day while you are trying to conceive, and increase your intake to 600 micrograms during your pregnancy.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking cigarettes is harmful to your reproductive health. It makes your eggs age faster, which lowers your fertility. Secondhand smoke from your partner can also affect your fertility and your baby’s health. You and your partner should quit smoking as soon as possible.
  • Lose excess weight if necessary: Obesity can cause irregular ovulation, which may decrease your chances of becoming pregnant. Losing weight to reach a healthy BMI can help.

Contact Western Fertility Institute Today

At Western Fertility Institute, we believe everyone deserves the chance to have a family. That’s why we work with intended parents until they’re holding a baby in their arms. Our compassionate staff will be with you through every step and be a source of encouragement during the journey.

To get started, call us at 1-888-261-4574 or contact us on our website.