How to Track Ovulation When Trying to Conceive

7 Ways to Target the Most Fertile Window in Your Cycle

After a miscarriage, it's normal if you want to get pregnant again as quickly as possible. You may simply want to move forward with starting a family, or you may feel a new pregnancy is the best way for you and your partner to cope.

Whatever the reason, if a fast pregnancy is your goal, it helps to track ovulation to make sure that you're targeting the most fertile window in your cycle.  Here are some tips and methods that may help:

Photo of three red x marks on days of a calendar
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If your menstrual cycle tends to be the same number of days from month to month, it's a good bet that you ovulate around two weeks, or 14 days, before you expect your period. Of course, this can vary based on your individual cycle. If you have a 35-day cycle, for example, you will most likely be ovulating around the 21st day.

This method is less helpful if you have irregular periods that vary from one month to the next.

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Basal body temperature charting (BBT charting) involves taking your temperature first thing in the morning before you even rise from bed. By maintaining a chart over the duration of your cycle, you can detect when a sustained temperature increase indicates you have ovulated.  

In some cases, BBT charting may even offer a hint as to whether you have conceived or not (via the so-called "implantation dip").

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Ovulation predictor test
Ovulation predictor test. Getty Images/Ruth Jenkinson

Ovulation predictor kits are urine tests, similar to home pregnancy tests, that show a particular color pattern when your luteinizing hormone (LH) levels surge. An LH surge usually indicates that you will ovulate within 12 to 36 hours. Once the test predicts ovulation, it is recommended that you have sex daily for the next several days.

In most cases, you need to take the tests over consecutive days to accurately detect the surge. If you test over five days, you have an 80 percent chance of predicting ovulation; over 10 days, that figure rises to around 95 percent.

Computerized fertility monitors work similarly to ovulation predictor kits but offer more precision and earlier detection. Despite these benefits, the monitor and test sticks tend to be very pricey. With that being said, the accuracy of these next-generation devices is so great that some couples even use them as a means to avoid pregnancy.

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Saliva testing can also be used to detect ovulation. Compared ovulation predictor kits, this form of testing is often far less costly.

The test works by highlighting crystal formations that typically develop in saliva during ovulation. During the most fertile period in the menstrual cycle, there will be chemical changes in the saliva. When dried, the residue will exhibit fern-like crystals that are not present at other stage in the cycle.

The test kit includes a lens onto which a drop of saliva is placed. After around five minutes, you would view the sample under the viewing scope to see if the characteristic crystals have developed. Ovulation is likely to occur within 24 to 72 hours of the first formations.

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Charting cervical mucus isn't for everyone, but it can certainly give you a good idea as to when you will be ovulating.

Around the time of ovulation, the cervical mucus will begin to thin and clear and have an appearance similar to that of raw egg whites. This is in contrast to its usual creamy and sticky consistency. This thinning allows sperm to pass through the cervix during intercourse and provides them a more alkaline environment in which to survive.

When used with basal body temperature charting, this method of monitoring offers a relatively high level of accuracy.

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Tracking ovulation isn't necessary if you are sexually active and prefer to have sex two to three times per week (or roughly every two to three days). While ovulation monitoring can certainly be helpful for couples with scheduling challenges or fertility problems, for others, having sex on a regular basis may offer more or less the same chances of getting pregnant.

To improve your odds even further, you can practice conception sex wherein timing, sexual positions, and even your choice of lubricant can create the ideal environment for conceiving a baby.

Source:

Hu, S.; Yi, Y.; Wei, T. et al. "Detection of ovulation, a review of currently available methods." Bioengineering and Translational Medicine. 2014; DOI: 10.1002/btm2/10058.

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