Ovulation Basics: What Do I Really Need to Know?
Trying for a baby — myths and realities
Myth: It's possible to get pregnant at any time of the month.
Reality: To get pregnant, you need to have sex on the days leading up to and around when you ovulate. Two to three days prior to ovulation and the day of ovulation are your most fertile days.
Myth: Every woman ovulates on Day 14.
Reality: Many don't. Normal ovulation can occur as early as Day 10 and as late as Day 20 (or even later). Many women think that they ovulate on Day 14, but this isn't always the case. Your day of ovulation will vary depending on your cycle length. It is normal to have occasional cycles when you don't ovulate (anovulatory cycles). You won't be able to get pregnant in a cycle where you don't ovulate. Occasional anovulatory cycles are normally nothing to worry about but this article contains more information on the frequency and causes of anovulation if you would like to learn more.
Myth: You'll get pregnant quickly if you track your temperature.
Reality: Tracking your basal body temperature can be helpful. However, a woman's body temperature rises after she has ovulated. If you have intercourse after your temperature rises, you will be too late to optimise the chances of conception in that cycle. Scientific studies1 suggest that the methods which identify your most fertile days in advance, such as ovulation tests, fertility monitors and fertility charting of cervical mucus, are likely to be more effective for optimally timing intercourse than calendar or temperature methods.
Myth: Ovulation Tests cause stress
Reality: A recent study2 found that using digital ovulation tests is no more stressful than trying to conceive without them. In this study 77% more women got pregnant in the group that was using the tests than those simply having regular intercourse. In addition, 100% of these women found the digital ovulation tests easy to use and understand.
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1In the first 2 cycles of use. Robinson, JE, et al. Fertility & sterility (2007) 87:329-334.
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Find out when you're most fertile
The days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation itself are your most fertile – this is when you are most likely to get pregnant.
Ovulation is the release of an egg from your ovaries, which happens once in every menstrual cycle and is triggered by hormone changes. A rise in the level of estrogen begins a few days before ovulation, this eventually causes a sudden surge in luteinising hormone (LH) that triggers the release of the egg, ovulation, 24-36 hrs later. This usually happens 12 to 16 days before your next period starts. The egg can be fertilised for up to 24 hours after ovulation.
While an egg is only viable for about 24 hours, sperm can remain active for up to 5 days. It may therefore be surprising to learn that a couple can conceive through sexual intercourse 4 to 5 days before the egg is released.
If the egg isn't fertilised, the lining of the womb is shed and your period begins.
This marks the start of the next cycle. If the egg has been fertilised, it may successfully
implant itself into the womb lining. This usually takes place about a week
Getting pregnant can all depend on timing. If you want to find out when you are most likely to be fertile, it's important to get to know your own body and your menstrual cycle.
Find your most fertile days of the month
- Stanford JB., et al. Obstetrics & Gynaecology (2002) 100(6):1333-41
- Tiplady S., et al. Human Reproduction (2013) 28(1): 138-151. 210 women across 2 menstrual cycles. Not statistically significant for conception rates.
For information purposes only. Consult a doctor for medical advice.