Your fertile window: Understanding when you’re at your most fertile


by Lorna White |

Trying to figure out when you're ovulating can be difficult. This ovulation period is often referred to as your fertile window, and if you're trying to get pregnant, it's important to know when this window is open.

Often, the best way of working out your fertile window is by using an ovulation calculator. Also, your body may show some signs and symptoms of when you're ovulating, and understanding these changes in your body can make a huge difference when it comes to trying to conceive.

So, why is it important to know when your fertile window is? There are many reasons why, with one being if you feel those first signs of ovulation, it's recommended to have sex with your partner, as a males sperm can live up to 7 days, so having sex before ovulation can increase your chances of conceiving.

Try not to get too caught up with making a baby though. Just enjoy the time with your partner, as less stress will help to increase your chances of getting pregnant!

What is ovulation?

Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovaries, and often happens around day 14 of a 28-day cycle. It's recommended to count backwards 14 days of when your period is due. There are a lot of ways to increase your chances of conceiving, but around the time of ovulation is the best time to try for a baby.

When the egg is released, it travels through the fallopian tubes and into the uterus, but it only survives for 12-24 hours. To become pregnant, the egg will need to be fertilised by a sperm cell. Sperm can live up to 7-days in a woman's body, so having sex before you begin ovulating is often recommended.

Try our ovulation calculator!

All you need to know in order to use our ovulation calculator, is the first day of your last period and the usual length of your cycle.

What are the signs of ovulation?

It's important to know the signs of when your body is ready to conceive as knowing about your body and noticing the different signs will increase your chances of being able to conceive.

  • Cervical mucus: You've probably not paid much attention to your vaginal discharge on a month-to-month basis, but it's important to check it as you could be trying to conceive when your body is least ready. "In the run-up to ovulation, cervical fluid increases in volume and fertile qualities. It may resemble thin hand lotion or become clear and slippery - like raw egg whites - and this is a strong indicator that your body is gearing up for ovulation, so take advantage of it!" says Maisie Hill, author of Period Power.

  • Feeling sore: When your body is starting to ovulate, your breasts might become tender and your nipples might be sore. You might even get pain in your lower abdomen - mittelschmerz - which happens to 1 in 5 women and is completely normal. These pains are often a result of increased hormone levels.

  • Increased sex drive: If you suddenly find yourself feeling more loving and affectionate towards your partner, it could be your body's way of telling you it's time to head to the bedroom. When ovulating, a woman's sex drive peaks which helps in the baby-making process.

  • Pelvic pain: 1 in 5 women will experience pelvic pain during the time of ovulation. However, it is not always a reliable sign that you are definitely ovulating so it's important to notice other signs that your body is showing you.

  • Changes in body temperature: Taking your body temperature can give you a good idea as to when you're ovulating, as your body temperature increases slightly. This isn't a recommended way of charting ovulation, but it gives you an idea of when you are most fertile. When your body temperature has been higher for 3 days, it means that your body has already ovulated. Checking your temperature frequently over several months is a good way for you to build a pattern so that it will be easier for you to predict when you're most fertile.

"Other signs of ovulation include an increase in sexual desire thanks to oestrogen and testosterone peaking, feeling ovulation pain (mittelschmerz), and a positive on an ovulation predictor kit (OPK)," explains Maisie.

"OPKs detect a surge in a hormone called luteinising hormone (LH), though this method shouldn’t be relied on as a way of timing sex as it’s easy to miss the surge and by the time LH is peaking, a significant amount of your fertile window will have already passed."

How long does ovulation last? 

Ovulation is different for each woman and their cycle, as some women have a 28 days cycle while others have a 36 day cycle. Usually, ovulation is one day, but you are fertile for up to 5 days before you start ovulating, and on the day of ovulation, too. You're most fertile during the two days before ovulation, and you have a better chance of conceiving on those two days.

For women with irregular periods or little time for regular sex, ovulation calculators and ovulation predictor kits are incredibly helpful.

Meet the expert: Maisie Hill is a highly qualified and sought-after women’s health expert with over a decade of experience as a practitioner and birth doula. She is the author of best-selling novel Period Power.

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