For women trying to get pregnant, each month can seem like a lottery. You wait and hope for signs you're pregnant, only to learn that once again, you've been stymied by nature. But of course, your odds for conception have a close link to your menstrual cycle and in particular to ovulation.
At ovulation, a woman is at the peak of her fertility. If you could just figure out when ovulation will occur, you'd know when to have some conception sex. That's the purpose of this section: to help you learn to tell when you are about to ovulate. This is one way to increase your chances of becoming pregnant.
Through the wonders of science, we now have several excellent methods for predicting ovulation. For starters there is the simplest method of all: counting the days of your cycle. To do this, start keeping a calendar, marking the day on which you get your menstrual period. This is called day one of your cycle.
An average cycle lasts 28 days, though there is room for wide variation on what is considered a normal number of days per cycle. But suppose you keep track of your period and find it lasts 28 days. Ovulation tends to occur mid-cycle, or anywhere between 12-18 days within a 28-day cycle.
Since ovulation is your most fertile time, you have the best chance of becoming pregnant during the time span in which ovulation is predicted. During this time, having intercourse is indicated if you are trying to conceive. In general, the best time to have conception sex during a given cycle is between the 10th and 18th days of your cycle. But if you really want to aim for the stars, assume that ovulation occurs 14 days before menstruation occurs. To calculate this time, subtract the number 14 from the number of days in your average cycle and voila, you're good to go.
In addition to counting, you can also note changes in the texture, appearance, and amount of your cervical mucus. A woman is at her most fertile point when the cervical mucus is thin, clear, and elastic.
Some women, about one-fifth, will experience discomfort in the lower abdomen during ovulation. This is called mittelschmerz, which is a German word that translates as "middle pain." The pain may last only a short time or up to a few hours but can be thought of as a sign that ovulation is in full gear.
Another sign that ovulation is occurring is a very slight increase in body temperature. Ovulation brings with it an increase in body temperature of somewhere between 0.5-1.6 degrees. The increase is too slight to be sensed as a fever, but is a good predictor of ovulation. You can measure your daily temperature with a basal body temperature thermometer to spot this slight rise.
Last but not least, technology has given us the newfangled option of predicting ovulation with the help of ovulation prediction kits. You can buy these kits in any drugstore. Not all of them are created equal, however. Get a recommendation from your physician before you go out and purchase one. Got a positive result? That means you're going to ovulate within the next 12-48 hours.