When trying to conceive it’s comforting to know that there is a science and a natural process involved that may actually assist you in your path to a successful conception. Recent statistics show that the age profile of natural female fertility declines quite rapidly as we age. If you begin trying to become pregnant in your thirties you have a 90% chance of success, if you wait until you’re 40+ then you have a 40% chance of not falling pregnant and by the age of 45 your success rate of falling pregnant naturally declines to just 1.5%. So if you’re ready to start a family, how can you tell when you’re ovulating? How can you calculate ovulation? Why is charting your basal body temperature so important? And what are ovulation predictor kits?
Why do I need to detect ovulation?
Ovulation is one of the key factors in fertility. Successfully calculating your window of fertility helps to pinpoint your most fertile period and when you’re most likely to conceive. There are six days during the course of your menstrual cycle when you are fertile and may fall pregnant if you have sex. This window of fertility leads up to and includes the day that you ovulate – you are most fertile in the two days before you ovulate
Being aware of your fertile window is particularly important if you are finding it difficult to conceive, have an irregular menstrual cycle or don’t engage in regular sex. Knowing when you are ovulating can assist you on what time of the month to best focus your efforts, however timing sex can be stressful so be reassured that engaging in regular sex throughout your cycle can increase your overall chances of conception.
Your body can indicate when you are ovulating in various ways. You may for example be able to identify your most fertile days by recognising signs of hormonal change in your body. You may also experience a one sided backache, or tenderness in your stomach (mittelschmerz), this may last for a few minutes to a few hours – these may be subtle changes in which to identify your ovulation, however there are other changes you may notice. Such as, as your body experiences ovulation you may note that your cervical mucus becomes clear, slippery and stretchy. Both the position and feel of your cervix may also change around the time of ovulation, going from hard, low, dry and closed to soft, high, open and wet.
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How do I chart my basal body temperature?
Following ovulation your body temperature can increase by up to 0.2 degrees celsius. This is not a difference that you will be able to naturally detect, but you will be able to by using a basal body temperature (BBT) thermometer. This spike in temperature signifies that you have successfully ovulated, and is a result of an egg being released which in turn stimulates the production of the hormone progesterone – which raises the body temperature.
As we’ve discussed you are at your most fertile in the two or three days before the spike in temperature and you may also have an additional 12 to 24 hour window of fertility after you first take note of the increase in temperature, but be advised fertility experts advise that this is normally too late in which to successfully conceive.
Ovulation experts suggest the best method is to chart your temperature every morning for a few months, so you can detect a pattern and pinpoint your likely ovulation date. With this information behind you can then plan your days in which to have sex.
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What are ovulation predictor kits?
Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) detect the surge of luteinising hormone (LH) just before you ovulate. They are similar in both look and process to a home pregnancy kit as they detect an increased level of hormone in your urine. OPKs are convenient and easy to use and offer a more accurate way than charting your temperature. OPKs are able to predict your ovulation 24 hours to 36 hours in advance to help identify when you may be ovulating, within the first month of using them.
How do saliva ovulation tests work?
Leading up to ovulation your oestrogen levels increase, as does the salt content of your saliva. Saliva ovulation tests work by detecting salivary ferning under a microscope and shows the way saliva crystallises when it dries. Basically when your salt content is high, your saliva dries in a fern pattern. In the 3 days to 4 days prior to ovulation and for a couple of days afterwards , salivary ferning is visible. If you were to look at your saliva outside of your fertility window, you will note that your saliva will dry in shapeless blobs.
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