When can you get pregnant? That’s a pressing question for women throughout their childbearing years. You may be measuring the best possible time to try to conceive. Or you may be trying to avoid pregnancy during a certain period of time. In either case, it’s always important to know how your monthly cycle works in terms of fertility and ovulation.
Ovulation Estimates | When Can You Get Pregnant in Cycle?
In this article:
- The Fertile Period
- Charting Your Own Cycle
- Online Calculators
- Ovulation Predictor Kits
- Basal Temperature Charts
- Discharge Evaluation
- Putting the Science Into Practice
The Fertile Period
Can you get pregnant 5 days before your period? Can you get pregnant right after your period? In short, when can you get pregnant? These are questions many women are too embarrassed to admit not knowing the answers to, but they shouldn’t be. There are many factors influencing when you’re most likely to get pregnant.
For couples with no significant fertility problems, the “fertility window” is straightforward. It all centers around ovulation. Ovulation refers to the time each month in which a new mature egg moves from a woman’s ovary into one of her Fallopian tubes. This is when it is most likely to be fertilized, resulting in pregnancy.
Most pregnancies happen in the five days leading up to and including ovulation, plus the one day after ovulation. That’s a six-day window, on average (It takes into account the one-day lifespan of the egg, and the six-day lifespan of each sperm).
Within that fertile window, there’s what you might think of as the “super” fertile window. In the three days leading up to, and including, the day of ovulation, the chances of pregnancy are at their highest.
Ovulation day gives you an average of 33 percent chance of getting pregnant. Five days before ovulation, you have a 10 percent chance. In the 24 hours after ovulation, the chance plummets from that 33 percent peak, back down to nearly 0. It’s possible to get pregnant outside that window, but the odds are slim.
Charting Your Own Cycle
Regardless if a woman has a short, long or regular cycle, she can accurately predict her next period with charting pic.twitter.com/MiUY2XHaSV
— Tina Luther (@SAFertilityCare) January 22, 2014
Now you’ve found the answer to when can you get pregnant during your cycle. Next, you’ll need to pin down your own day of ovulation. This helps you calculate the best window for conception. If you have periods that come “like clockwork”, every 28 days, you may only need to do a little counting. You will likely ovulate on day 14, with day 1 representing the first day of your period. Your most fertile days are 12 through 14.
Longer or shorter periods also follow predictable patterns, as long as you have a fairly regular cycle. Ovulation can be on day 7 for a very short cycle or day 21 for an unusually long cycle.
But many women either have unpredictable cycles or experience factors that throw off their normal patterns. When this is the case, there are several ways to pinpoint your ovulation, and therefore your fertility window.
There’s no shame in cutting right to the chase and using an online fertility calculator. These simple devices work best for women who have both good memories and regular periods. First, you enter the date of your last period. Next, you choose the number you estimate your average cycle to be − every 28 days, every 31 days, or whatever you’ve found to be normal for you.
Depending on the website, the calculator will give you target dates for the next several months. For each month, you’ll be given a range of about five days in which you’ll most likely be ovulating. It will also tell you what the expected due date would be for your baby.
Ovulation Predictor Kits
Women have been getting pregnant for millennia without the help of online calculators and ovulation kits. But if you have a hectic life, it can be harder to keep track of more subtle symptoms. If you fall into that category and are trying to conceive, an ovulation predictor kit might be ideal.
The two main types of ovulation predictor kits each rely on body fluids. One type tests urine, and the other your saliva. Each kit will come with specific guidelines for when and how to begin testing. Often, the timing will work out to about 10 days after your last period started.
A urine-testing kit measures a hormone known as luteinizing hormone or LH. About 36 hours before you ovulate, your LH will increase. You use it by placing one of the provided testing strips into a stream of urine (The kits usually provide enough strips to test every day during the non-period part of your cycle).
The saliva-testing ovulation predictor kits measure estrogen. More specifically, it tests salt levels in your saliva, which rise when estrogen increases. This kit works by providing slides onto which you put a drop of saliva. A tiny microscope is provided, along with simple guidelines for analyzing the slide. When the salt is at peak level, indicating coming ovulation, it will cause the sample to crystallize in a fern-like pattern.
As with other ovulation-measuring methods, these tests aren’t foolproof. The urine-testing ovulation predictor kits are considered a bit more precise. Either kit, however, can be thrown off by factors such as medication you may be taking, including fertility drugs.
Basal Temperature Charts
Your basal temperature is a baseline measurement taken as soon as you wake. The timing prevents other factors from influencing your body temperature, such as level of activity, hot or cold drinks, and so forth. It’s worth the minor investment of getting a basal thermometer instead of relying on your regular one. A basal thermometer gives more precision. That’s because it measures the temperature to the hundredth place, rather than the tenth place. They’re also faster! You’ll have your basal reading in under one minute.
You can use a regular calendar to track your basal temperature over the course of your cycle. Even easier, use a printout provided by your OB-GYN or through a pregnancy website. These make it easy to just fill in the dots of the printed thermometers. After a month, you can “connect those dots” to see the ups and downs over the course of your cycle.
Start on the first day of your period, taking your temperature with a basal thermometer as soon as you wake up. Do this every day for about a month until your next period starts.
After a month or two, you’ll notice a pattern. For many women, in the days leading up to their periods, basal temperatures tend to rise from a half-degree to a full degree higher than average. This marks the time of ovulation − your best chance for conceiving.
Cervical mucus, your normal flow of non-period discharge, also gives you a clue as to when you’re ovulating. In fact, during the month that you’re charting your period, it’s a good idea to keep track of how this mucus changes, too.
On your basal chart, you can include a daily code which indicates the type of mucus you observe. For instance, mark “P” for period, during the days in which you’re bleeding. When you don’t observe any discharge, mark “D” for dry. An “S” or “Th” can stand for sticky, thick discharge. Once it changes to what’s usually described as an egg-white consistency, use the “E” code. This describes cervical mucus that is thinner and clearer.
Your “egg white” days are your most fertile days. For the majority of women, the last day of the egg white phase and the first day of basal temperature rise is the day of ovulation.
Putting the Science Into Practice
It’s super useful to understand the answers to questions like “When can you get pregnant after your period?” But once you determine when your fertility window is, it helps to have some guidelines about when to have sex with your partner.
Having sex every day for the three-day “super fertile” window is obviously optimal. But schedules don’t always permit this frequency on those specific days. That’s where the fact that sperm have long life cycles comes into play. Most doctors recommend having sex two or three times during the estimated six-day window. This increases your odds of conceiving when daily sex isn’t possible.
If you or your partner are undergoing any type of fertility treatment, the guidelines for optimal conception time may be different. Your medical team will advise you on estimating the best time for conception, as well as maximizing your odds. You also need to stay healthy for conception to go smoothly.
So when can you get pregnant based on your ovulation cycle? Watch this video from Health Space to know the signs of ovulation.
It’s always helpful to know when you can get pregnant in cycle terms. Many couples trying to conceive worry about the zest of their sex life taking a toll because of time spent counting and charting. Or they may feel that the miracle of creating life shouldn’t be diminished with testing kits and schedules. Yet, the opposite is often true. It will quickly become second nature to you to understand when your fertile period is. In turn, you may feel more in tune with your body than you normally do. That confidence gives many couples greater intimacy than experienced during those stressful times of trying to guess each month!
Do you know when you can get pregnant based on your cycle? We would love to hear your pregnancy experience!