The ABCs of Fertility
If you are looking at this it means that you are hoping to conceive, good luck.
For conception to occur, a biologically healthy man must have sexual intercourse with a healthy woman at a favourable time of her cycle. Whether you get pregnant or not depends on whether you have sex during this favorable window which lasts between 5 and 7 days.
When is the right timing?
The average cycle lasts for 28 days. During this time a number of things happen; the woman produces an egg from one of the two ovaries, this is called ovulation. The egg travels into the uterus through the fallopian tube and sits there for a period of 24 hours. If during this period it doesn’t come into contact with a sperm the body expels it in the form of menstruation. 14 days after the start of the menstrual period, the body will start the ovulation process all over again.
A woman trying to get pregnant should thus have sex during ovulation which is the 14th day. Natural biological happenings are however just approximation and if you add of minus two days from this, it is safe to say that a woman is fertile between day 12 and 16 of her cycle.
Some women have a shorter cycle of 21 days and it means that you have your period every three weeks. Ovulation will start on day seven meaning your fertile period is between day 5 and day 9.
If you have a 32 day cycle, meaning it is 32 days between the first day of your period and the first day of your next period, ovulation will occur on the 18th day. You will thus be fertile between day 16 and 20 of your cycle.
Once you understand your cycle and that the sperm can last in a woman’s body for at least 48 hours, then you will be able to plan for the right time to have sex.
Devices to track your ovulation
- Ovulation prediction kit- This is available in a chemist and it works by detecting a surge in luteinizing hormone which happens just before ovulation.
- Thermometer – You can also take your basal body temparature each morning before getting out of bed. A spike in temparature will mean you have ovulated.
- Applications – There are web based applications that will help you track your fertile days like mypill, BabyBump and myOBGYN.
- Billings’ method – You can use this method to track your fertility by paying attention to the sensation of your vulva and the appearance of your discharge. If you keep track of this you establish a pattern.
- Calender – This is the easiest method. After you have established your cycle, you can use a calender to circle the days your cycle begins and ends and the days that you will ovulate in between.
- Your body – Pay attention, during ovulation your vaginal discharge will be clear and slippery with the consistency of an egg white and you might feel abdominal discomfort.