How to track ovulation and improve the chance of conception

In real estate they say success is all about location, location, location. In conception success is all about timing, timing, timing. Location does play a role but trust me no matter what your significant other tries to convince you of there is only one location that works. Hopefully that’s all I need to say about location so now we will focus on timing.

First let’s talk about what is ovulation. Ovulation is when the egg is released from the ovary. After leaving the ovary the egg travels into the fallopian tube where fertilization can take place. Studies have shown that to maximize the chance of getting pregnant you should have sex on the day of ovulation or the two days before ovulation.

To time intercourse or at home insemination correctly we need to know when is ovulation. In general ovulation occurs about 14 days after the start of menstruation. However, the timing of ovulation can vary significantly between women and even from cycle to cycle in the same person.

Signs of ovulation

Some women are able to tell when they ovulate because they have symptoms of ovulation such as changes in their cervical mucus, pain, and bleeding. Some women experience breast tenderness after ovulation. Other women have no symptoms of ovulation at all.

In my experience most women do not have symptoms of ovulation. However, even though they are not having symptoms they are still most likely ovulating on a regular basis. Do not be concerned if you do not have any of the above symptoms of ovulation. Menstrual cycles that are consistently somewhere between 25 to 35 days, indicate you are most likely ovulating. The length of the cycles can vary from cycle to cycle. As long as the large majority of the cycles are in the 25 to 35 days in length you are likely ovulating.

How to measure cycle length

I often get asked how to count cycle length. Traditionally, day one of the cycle starts with the first day of normal blood flow (spotting does not count) and then you continue to count days until the next time you have a full cycle start.

Some women use an ovulation calculator or ovulation test to see if they are ovulating. Basal body temperatures determinations also known as temperature charting can also be used to follow the menstrual cycle and determine if someone ovulates. I do not recommend using basal body temperatures if you are charting for fertility purposes because temperature charting is nowhere near as helpful as using ovulation predictor kits also known as ovulation tests or luteinizing hormone (LH) tests.

Temperature charting

Basal body temperature, temperature charting, can indicate whether someone is ovulating but temperature charting is not helpful for timing intercourse. With temperature charting there is a slight rise in basal body temperature after ovulation. Detecting this rise in temperature does indicate that ovulation occurred. However, you cannot detect the rise in temperature until after ovulation already happened. The best time to have sex for fertility purposes is the day of ovulation and right before ovulation. Temperature charting, therefore, is not useful for timing intercourse because by the time the you detect a temperature rises it is already too late in the cycle for intercourse to result in a high chance of pregnancy.

Ovulation tests

I recommend using ovulation predictor kits also known as ovulation tests to determine when you are likely going to ovulate. You can keep track of the information in a calendar, app or ovulation calculator. Ovulation tests are much easier than daily temperature charting.

Ovulation tests work by measuring the amount of LH present in the urine. LH increases right before ovulation. Using the LH or ovulation tests you can determine if you will ovulate and the best time to have sex. Once the ovulation test starts to turn positive you have intercourse every other day for about a week. This will ensure that you have sex on the days of your cycle most likely to result in pregnancy.

When using an at home insemination kit to have a child ovulation predictor kits are crucial to correctly time insemination. If the kit shows peak ovulation, you should perform the insemination at the time of peak ovulation. If your ovulation predictor kit does not indicate when peak ovulation occurs then I recommend proceeding with insemination 24 to 48 hours after your predictor kit turns positive.

What to do if ovulation tests don’t work

Ovulation tests don’t work for everyone. For instance, some people have a difficult time reading the tests. If you are one of those people you can get a computer that will read the test for you. For some women, such as women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), their LH levels are always high and therefore the ovulation test will almost always be positive. This means the tests are useless for them.

If you have PCOS or irregular menstrual cycles instead of trying to time intercourse or chart your cycles you are much better off going to see a fertility specialist. It is likely that you will need help with stimulating ovulation to get pregnant. The good news is that sometimes a fertility specialist may find an underlying medical problem. Often this can be treated and return your menstrual cycles to normal. Depending on the cause of the irregular menstrual cycles ovulation can be stimulated by using a oral medication like Clomid or letrozole.