Women are fertile about 4-5 days a month- assuming ovulation occurs every month. Women are only fertile if they ovulate (this may seem obvious but I have been asked this question many, many times over the years). During the time of ovulation, an egg is released from the ovaries and is available for fertilization for about 12-24 hours. Sperm, however, can live in our bodies for roughly 72-hours. So, women can get pregnant 2-3-days before, or after, ovulation. Understanding our body’s unique rhythm and cycle can help increase our chances of conception.
There is a myth that ovulation occurs on the 14th day of a menstrual cycle (day 1 is considered the first day of your period). I have seen this myth prevent many couples who have desired pregnancies from attaining one. Ovulation can differ from woman to woman and can even be different from month to month.
Our peak fertility day is generally a day before ovulation or on the day of ovulation itself. Our peak day is considered the last day of either:
1. Cervical fluid that resembles eggwhites (slippery, clear and stretchy).
2. Lubricative vaginal sensation – generally wet and slippery
3. midcycle spotting
Generally, basal body temperature (a women’s temperature first thing in the morning, before getting out of bed) will elevate 0.5-1 degree 24-48 hours after the peak day. It is still possible to conceive during the first 2-3-days of temperature elevation but these are not your most fertile days. And, you can feel fairly confident that conception will not occur after the 3rd day of temperature elevation.
Also, a woman’s cervix changes during her fertile time. As a woman approaches ovulation, her cervix tends to rise, soften and open. Women may feel a slight twinge around the ovaries, experience bloating, and have an increase in sex drive. Nature really does work for us to get pregnant- enhanced sex drive to increase chance of receiving sperm, cervical fluid that helps draw sperm through the more open cervix to finally meet egg and fertilize.
Knowing our body’s natural rhythm and cycle is empowering. By charting these fertility signs, women can tell if they are ovulating and if getting pregnant is a possibility at different times of the months.