Demystify the mysteries of ovulation: Getting Pregnant 101

If you’re trying to get pregnant, the best thing you can do is to work with your body and pay attention to the signals it’s sending you. Of course knowing the facts can give you an edge as well. For example, each month a couple tries to get pregnant they have about a 20% chance of conceiving.


The egg only lives for about 24 hours…so the window of opportunity is pretty small.  That being said, if a woman listens to her body she will be able to see the changes that tell her she is ovulating. The sperm can live a lot longer, even 48 hours or more…so, having intercourse prior to ovulation means the sperm could still be viable.  It only takes one little sperm to make a baby!


How do you know when you’re ovulating? Here’s some of the best ways to tell:
    1. Check your calendar: The average menstrual cycle last 28 days ( you count this time from the first day you bleed to the next day that you bleed).  Ovulation usually occurs half way through the cycle or on day 14.  Some women have cycles that are from 32-35 days. Keeping a chart of your cycles for a few months can help you figure out when you are fertile. Of course if you have irregular cycles you may need to watch for other signs that you are ovulating.
      Download the full-sized calendar.

    1. Listen closely to your body:  20% of women get a twinge of pain or a series of cramps in the lower abdominal area on one side or the other when they ovulate.  This is called mittelschmerz and is a monthly reminder of fertility.  This is little pain is thought to be the release of an egg from an ovary.  Pay close attention and you may be able to tell the minute you ovulate!


    1. Basal Body Temperature: Progesterone increases your body temperature as it gets your uterus ready for a fertilized, implantable egg. This means that in the first half of the month, your temperature will be lower than it is in the second half of the month, after ovulation. This gets a little tricky but the bottom line is that your BBT will reach its lowest point at ovulation and then rise immediately and dramatically (about a half a degree) as soon as ovulation occurs. BBT for one month will not enable you to predict the day you ovulate but will give you evidence of ovulation after it has occurred. If you chart your BBT over a few months you will start to see a pattern to your cycles.  Keep in mind that you’ll have to purchase a basal body thermometer to chart your BBT. They’re different than regular thermometers.)


    1. Cervical Mucus; After your period ends, you’ll have a dry spell, literally. You shouldn’t expect much, if any, cervical mucus during this time. As the cycle proceeds, you’ll notice an increase in the amount of mucus with an often white or cloudy appearance — and if you try to stretch it between your fingers, it’ll break apart. As you get closer to ovulation, this mucus becomes even more copious, but now it’s thinner, clearer, and has a slippery consistency similar to an egg white. If you try to stretch it between your fingers, you’ll be able to pull it into a string a few inches long before it breaks. This is yet another sign of impending ovulation. Once ovulation occurs, you may either become dry again or develop a thicker discharge. Cervical mucus can be an extremely useful (if slightly messy) tool in pinpointing the day on which you are most likely to ovulate — and it does so in plenty of time for you to do something about it.


  1. Ovulation predictor kit: Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) are able to determine your date of ovulation 12 to 24 hours in advance by looking at levels of luteinizing hormone, or LH. LH is the last of the hormones to hit its peak before ovulation actually occurs.  These tests kits have you simply pee on an included stick and get your answer.
These are some of the options that can help you know when the time is right. And, don’t get distressed if you’re not expecting the stork right away. We advise couples to try for a year before they become alarmed that they are not pregnant. In fact, stress can make it harder to get pregnant. Deep breaths! While you’re being patient, add a folic acid supplement to your daily vitamin regime (it can help stave off some forms of birth defects).If you’re still concerned, call your provider. They’re here to help. Also, if you’re over 35 and trying to get pregnant, it’s a good idea to talk with your provider as well. For everyone else,  the best thing you can do is to get to know your cycle and your body. That, along with patience (and possibly a few ovulation predictor kits) will help a whole lot.


Click around to find out much more about planning for pregnancy and about taking care of yourself before, during, and after pregnancy. You can also learn more about our personalized approach to childbirth at We can also help you find an OB/GYN — be sure to schedule a free get-acquainted appointment to make sure your choice is a good fit — and you can ask questions online or by calling 317-338-4-HER.

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