Knowing when ovulation happens is critical when you want to get pregnant because the window of opportunity to conceive is fairly small every month. Conception is only possible from about five days before ovulation through to the day of ovulation. These six days are the “fertile window” but the likelihood of conceiving is highest in the three days leading up to and including ovulation.
Knowing your body and how it changes when ovulation approaches is also important. A few days before ovulation the vaginal mucus changes and becomes clear and slippery; a bit like egg white and perfect for sperm to swim along!
Two recent studies show that knowing your cycle can reduce the time it takes to get pregnant. In the first study, 384 women were taught how to recognise the mucus changes that signal that ovulation is close and record the days when they noticed this so called ‘fertile mucus’. Two years later, women who reported mucus-related fertility symptoms had a higher pregnancy rate (72.3%) than women who didn’t (44.4%). They also took fewer months on average to achieve pregnancy (4.2 versus 6.4 months). The authors conclude that women who notice fertile mucus can be assured that they have a high chance of getting pregnant. They also recommend that women who don’t should see their doctor for testing to make sure they are ovulating.
The second study analysed data from 5,688 women who were trying to conceive and calculated their fecundability, which is the monthly chance of getting pregnant. Of these women 75% were using one or more fertility indicators: 71% were counting days or charting their menstrual cycles, 21% charted their temperature which rises slightly just after ovulation, 39% monitored mucus changes, and 32% used an ovulation testing kit. Women who were using any type of fertility indicator had a higher monthly chance of pregnancy than women who didn’t. Women who combined charting their menstrual cycle, monitoring mucus changes and using an ovulation kit had an almost 50% greater monthly chance of pregnancy than women who didn’t use any fertility indicators.
So, a simple and cheap way to boost your chance of conception is to be aware of your menstrual cycle and to have plenty of sex when symptoms indicate that ovulation is getting close. To help you get started Your Fertility has an ovulation calculator and lots of information about how to get to know your cycle.
Marshell, M, Corkill, M, Whitty, M, Thomas, A, Turner, J (2019) Stratification of fertility potential
according to cervical mucus symptoms: achieving pregnancy in fertile and infertile couples. Human
Stanford, JB, Willis, SK, Hatch, EE, Rothman, KJ, Wise, LA (2019) Fecundability in relation to use of
fertility awareness indicators in a North American preconception cohort study. Fertility and Sterility