How To Identify Your Peak Fertility Days for Your Best Chances at Getting Pregnant
Gearing up to try for a baby? Here’s how to determine your peak ovulation days for quick results.
Trying to conceive but not seeing results? You’re probably feeling frustrated and worried. After all, most of us are led to believe that any day without unprotected sex is risky if we’re not trying to conceive. Then we start actively trying, and nothing happens. So what gives?
It turns out that time is of the essence—more so than you might have thought. Your fertility window only lasts for about a week each month, narrowing your peak fertility days down to just a handful. Conception isn’t possible outside of that window. You’ll need to get the timing right in order to see the plus sign on a pregnancy test.
Want to learn more about your fertility window, or how to calculate your peak fertility days? Read on below.
Ovulation vs. fertility
The first step to successfully timing your peak fertility days is understanding ovulation and fertility. Is peak fertility the same as ovulation? What’s the difference?
For starters, ovulation and fertility are not the same thing, but they do overlap. Ovulation occurs when hormone increases prompt an ovary to release an egg. This usually happens once per menstrual cycle, roughly two weeks before your period. The egg is only viable up to 24 hours after ovulation. If it’s not fertilized within that time, the uterus begins shedding its lining and the egg is lost with it.
Ovulation signs and symptoms
Some women may feel cramping during ovulation, but there are no other physical signs of ovulation. Carefully track your cycle in order to know when you’re ovulating. Ovulation usually happens 12 to 16 days before the start of your next period.
We’ve historically been told that ovulation occurs on day 14 of a 28-day cycle. The problem with this is the assumption that everyone’s cycle is the same. In reality, it’s much more complex. Nearly 50% of cycles vary by seven or more days, which is why it’s easier (and more effective) to conceive during the fertile window.
What is the fertile window?
Before the egg is released from the ovary, estrogen surges cause a spike in the luteinising hormone (LH). Your fertility window starts with the increase in hormones and ends 24 hours after ovulation. The chances of conceiving outside this timeframe are low. Improve your chances further by learning the difference between high fertility and peak fertility, and tracking the days for each.
High fertility vs. peak fertility days
High fertility occurs several days before your peak fertility days, usually coinciding with the increase in estrogen. At this point, the uterine wall has thickened to create a sperm-friendly environment. In the right conditions, sperm can survive for up to five days. So, if sperm is deposited during this time, it should theoretically stick around long enough to fertilize the egg. That said, everyone is different and there are no guarantees.
You actually have the highest chances of getting pregnant during peak fertility.
How long does peak fertility last?
Unfortunately, peak fertility only refers to two days—the day you ovulate, and the day before that. You’re 30% more likely to get pregnant during peak fertility, so it’s worth it to figure out how to identify your peak fertility days.
Luckily, there are several ways to do just that.
How to calculate peak fertility days for your best chances of getting pregnant
Start by tracking your period(s)
For more accurate results, track multiple periods in a row. The first day of your period is Day 1. Count all the way through to the day before your next period starts (the last day of your cycle). Keep a record of your cycles (there are plenty of period-tracker apps available for smartphones) so you can accurately predict your peak fertility days.
Determine your ovulation days
If you’ve been tracking your period, you’ll have a rough idea of when you’re ovulating. However, there are several ways to get more accurate results. These include, but are not limited to, blood tests, ovulation test strips, and digital ovulation tests. It’s definitely a good idea to take these extra steps, since this knowledge is key to pinpointing how many days of high fertility before peak.
Using an ovulation predictor kit
These kits are available for purchase online and through most drug stores. Your LH hormone levels are measured to determine your high and peak fertility days using either test strips or sticks.
With cycles that range from 28 to 32 days in length, the ovulation test should be taken on days 10 or 14, respectively. Those with longer or shorter cycles should talk to their doctor about when to take the test.
Track your basal body temperature
Another (less accurate) method to determine your peak ovulation days is charting your basal body temperature. Your basal body temperature will increase by half a degree once the egg is released. The measurement is so sensitive that you’ll need to purchase a basal thermometer and take your temperature in the morning before getting out of bed. This method has been shown to be less accurate, though, because various factors can cause temperature increases, including stress.
Watch for changes in cervical mucus
You might have noticed by now that your cervical mucus changes throughout the course of your cycle. These changes are indicators of your level of fertility and are a way to identify your peak fertility days.
For the majority of your cycle, cervical mucus is similar to egg whites in colour and consistency. In the days just before ovulation, you’ll notice the mucus becomes thicker and creamier in texture. Then, immediately before ovulation, it becomes clear and slippery. This means it’s time to conceive.
If you notice that your mucus doesn’t turn clear and slippery during your cycle, it might be an indicator that pregnancy is less likely that month. If this happens consistently, talk to your doctor. In the meantime, there are plenty of natural and holistic ways to increase your fertility, including the Premama Fertility Support for Her.
Timing sex during your fertile window
Don’t count on the sperm sticking around. Though it’s possible for them to survive long enough to conceive during your fertile window, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Having sex during peak fertility is your best bet for successful conception.