In the first month of the blog, we talked about some of the ways that you could use to calculate when you’re ovulating, some of the most obvious signs and other things to consider. Well, we’re on to month two and I’m still not pregnant! So we have conducted yet more research and put together another post that will hopefully hope those at the same stage as us.
As mentioned, this month marks number two in our journey of trying to conceive. As part of that we have both done lots of reading up and research on how to improve our chances, and it seems that pinpointing that magic ovulation day is the key.
The 24 Hour Window
From the research, and a sketchy memory of GCSE Biology, ovulation tends to occur mid-cycle and is the day when your egg is released from the ovary and into the fallopian tube. It’s prime time for doing the baby dance so that sperm has the best chance of meeting the egg. Considering the egg only lives for a short window of around 24 hours, having sex a few days prior and on the day is vital for conception. The fertile window totals 6 days. 5 days for the lifetime of the sperm and 24 hours for the lifetime of the egg.
Personally I had no idea that the egg is only available for fertilisation within such a short period. Therefore, this month we have refined our strategy somewhat. Rather than focusing on a shorter period of a week in the run-up to what the fertility apps predict ovulation to occur, and having sex every day, we’re extending the period of time and have had sex every 2-3 days instead, to try and give the sperms enough time to re-generate. It turns out that having sex as often as possible isn’t the best for your sperm quantity and quality.
Get That Crystal Ball Out (Or Thermometer)
So how can you predict when ovulation occurs? Well, there’s a multitude of ways.
- The simplest way is to start keeping a note of your period cycles; I started logging these last November when I stopped taking the pill. Looking back over my data, my cycle has ranged from 26 days, up to 32 days. Ovulation usually happens 12-16 days before your next period, which means each month the date of ovulation can differ slightly. This gives a good indication of the week you’re generally most fertile, but there are two days per month you reach peak fertility. Identifying these gives you the best chances of conceiving.
- So in addition to tracking your cycle you will also need to start paying close attention to your body. Remember ever having extremely sticky, stretchy almost egg white discharge? I know I’ve had it in the past and definitely wondered what the cause was. Well wonder no more! It’s due to your body producing lots more oestrogen, triggering this mucus which helps and protects the sperm on its long journey to meet the egg. If you have the stomach for it then you can see what that mucus can look like on the BabyCentre.
- Furthermore, ovulation can often cause slight cramping often on one side (the side you are ovulating from). This is called Mittelschmerz, which is German for middle pain and is caused by the maturation or release of an egg on from the ovary. Last month I think I had this pain which came slightly later than my apps predicted, and trusting the apps and not knowing all the signs we didn’t do any baby dancing during this time.
- Next, you will need to buy a basal body thermometer which displays the temperature to two point decimals. This will be used to chart your temperature, which you will need to take first thing after waking up in the morning. Your temperature changes throughout your monthly cycle ever so slightly, as natural hormone fluctuations take place. During the first two weeks of your cycle, oestrogen is the more dominant hormone. And during the second half, once ovulation has taken place a rise is progesterone causes a rise in your body temperature as the uterus prepares to receive a fertilised, implantable egg. You can expect your basal body temperature to be lowest at ovulation, and then increase straight away around half a degree once you have ovulated.
After reading this, I was left wondering exactly what the point of using the thermometer was, as it kind of only seemed like a good way of knowing the horse had already bolted. After doing some more reading, it’s advisable that you chart your temperature for a few months so you can then more accurately predict your ovulation day. So I guess it is not completely pointless. Next month will be our first month using the thermometer, so it might do the trick!
What Is Your Cervix Up To?
Now this one probably isn’t for the squeamish out there, but is worth a go, especially if you are trying to speed up the TTC process or have been trying for a long time. When your body receives the heads up that your ovary is about to release an egg, it starts to prepare for the flood of sperm it expects to try to give your egg the best chance of being fertilised. The cervix, which is the passage between the vagina and the uterus starts to become softer and opens up a little to allow the sperm through.
It’s said that when you are not fertile the cervix feels like the tip of a nose, as opposed to when you are fertile and ovulating it feels like a soft pair of lips. Again, it will probably take a while for you to become familiar with your body, and what is normal for you. There is a WikiHow that explains how to feel your cervix in 9 simple steps, if you are interested in doing it, or getting your partner to try! See the steps here.
Get the Gear
Lastly, if you prefer a slightly less messy way of telling when is optimum time to have sex there are numerous ovulation predictor kits on the market. They work by detecting the surge of LH hormone in your urine, usually 12-24 hours before ovulation takes place. This is the final hormone which increases before ovulation occurs. The bump has taken a look at some of the best ovulation kits on the market if you want to give one of these a go.
I have peed on a number of these tests around the time the apps tell me I’m due to ovulate and have not once had the little smiley face in the window, which has become increasingly frustrating. So from this point onwards, I have officially given up pee sticks. They just leave me feeling a bit confused and sad, like a child that has learnt Santa isn’t real. From doing a little more research, I’m not the only person that is getting negative readings all the time.
Instead, I have invested in a basal body thermometer. The one I ordered is supposed to be all singing and dancing, complete with a daily alarm to remind you to take your temperature, and logs the data for 60 days to save messing around with paper charts and pencils first thing in the morning when you have just opened your eyes.
Also, the reviews were much better than the cheaper alternatives, and when it comes to such slight temperature shifts I think it’s best to buy the more accurate thermometer. It’s due to arrive in just a few days, so I’ll let you know how I get on over the course of the next month, if of course this month hasn’t been a success.
Hopefully there won’t be a third edition to this series of posts!