Perfecting The Timing When Trying To Conceive (TTC)
The right timing is a crucial success factor in many things in life and, certainly, excellent timing is vital for couples who are trying to conceive (TTC). This is because there is only a narrow window of time each month during which a woman can conceive naturally, and timing intercourse perfectly with this gap of opportunity can significantly boost the chances of conception.
In this article, we explain why the timing of intercourse is so important when TTC and how you can accurately determine when is the perfect time for you and your partner with our easy to use ovulation calculator.
When the ancient Greek poet Hesiod wrote: “… for right timing is in all things the most important factor,” he shared a great insight, which stays true today and is particularly applicable to couples who are trying to conceive.
This is because there is only a small window of opportunity for a woman to conceive naturally in each cycle, and even during this ideal time, the likelihood of falling pregnant is still only about 25%.
This small window of opportunity spans just a few days around ovulation, and is called “the fertile window”. On days before and after this fertile window, the likelihood of a pregnancy is literally zero, because a natural pregnancy can only occur around ovulation.
What is ovulation?
Ovulation is when a mature egg is released from the ovary, moves down the fallopian tube, and is available in the fallopian tube to be fertilised.
When is the fertile window?
The fertile window is the days around ovulation in a woman’s menstrual cycle when pregnancy is possible.
Technically, pregnancy is only possible during the five days before the woman ovulates to the day of ovulation itself. This is because the lifespan of sperm is only five days maximum, while the lifespan of the egg (ovum) is just 24 hours.
The graph above illustrates the likelihood of falling pregnant on each of the eight days around ovulation, with the likelihood of a natural pregnancy dropping to zero one day after ovulation until five days before the next ovulation.
So, for the very best chance of conceiving, couples should time intercourse for the two to three days preceding ovulation and including the day of ovulation. If a woman has unprotected sex on any of these three days, and everything else is normal, she has a 15-25% chance of becoming pregnant.
It is not a 100% chance, because even if you have intercourse at exactly the right time, the chance of pregnancy is also affected by many other factors, such as the health of the egg and the sperm.
However, once ovulation has occurred, the probability of pregnancy declines rapidly, and within 12 to 24 hours drops to 0%, and the woman will no longer be able to get pregnant during that cycle.
How do you know you’re ovulating?
Women’s cycles can vary. So, to know that you are ovulating and on which day of your cycle you are ovulating, observe your fertility signs throughout your cycle and record them on a chart.
One of the easiest ways to know when ovulation is actually happening is to check for changes in your mucus. Around the time of ovulation, you may notice your vagina’s mucus is clear, slick and slippery, much like the consistency of egg white.
You can evaluate your cervical mucus by means of the Billings method. Your finger is placed through the vagina until the cervix is touched (feels like the tip of your nose). The mucus is then examined by rolling your forefinger and thumb together and stretching the mucus as far as possible. When the mucus is clear, stretchable and slippery, ovulation is close.
You can also use an ovulation predictor kit. You can start testing with your ovulation predictor kit a few days before your estimated day of ovulation. To determine when to start testing, subtract 17 days from your average cycle length and start testing from this day of your cycle. For example, if you have a 28 day cycle, you would start testing from day 11. A positive result means you are going to ovulate within the next 24 to 36 hours.
Another way to determine if you are ovulating is to record your basal body temperature (BBT) each day before getting out of bed. Your BBT rises about half a degree Celsius after ovulation has occurred. Using a special basal body temperature thermometer will ensure accurate measurement.
By charting your temperature, it’s easy to see a rise in temperature indicating that ovulation has occurred. However, because at that stage ovulation has already passed, it does not help you pinpoint the fertile window, but may guide you for next month and assist you to work out your own pattern of ovulation.
How to track your ovulation
To pinpoint your fertile window more accurately, it is best to track your ovulation.
The first step is to work out the length of your average menstrual cycle. Day 1 is the first day of your menstrual period and the last day is the day before the next period begins.
Ovulation happens about two weeks before the next expected period. So, if your average menstrual cycle is 28 days, you should ovulate around day 14.
How do you know when is the right time?
The ‘fertile window’ is the six days leading up to and including ovulation. However, the three days leading up to and including ovulation are the most fertile.
Depending on your cycle length, the most fertile days in the cycle varies. For example, if you have 28 days between periods, ovulation typically happens on day 14, and the most fertile days are days 12, 13, and 14. If you have longer cycles, say 35 days between periods, ovulation happens on day 21 and the most fertile days are days 19, 20, and 21. For women with shorter cycles, say 21 days between periods, ovulation happens on day 7 and the most fertile days are days 5, 6, and 7.
You can use our ovulation calculator
At Medfem, we believe in making world-class fertility treatments available for everyone. For this reason, we have made available a free Ovulation Calculator.
You can simply click here to use the Medfem Ovulation Calculator now and to see which days you are most likely to be fertile!
It is as simple as completing the answers to the two questions and clicking on “Calculate” and the Medfem Ovulation Calculator will mark the calendar for you for the next three months with days of high fertility (green blocks), the day ovulation is expected and the when the new cycle begins. See the example below:
You can also sign up to our Ovulation Calculator system which will help you to keep track of your cycle easily.
Are you concerned about your ovulation?
If you are concerned about your ovulation, we invite you to reach out to one of our fertility specialists at Medfem Fertility Clinic, by simply clicking here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.
Our Fertility Specialists can also meet with You During a Virtual Consultation Via Zoom or Skype. Click here to book a virtual consultation now.
We look forward to meeting you!