When a woman’s body releases a fully developed egg from a follicle, this egg or ovum travels down to the uterus where it will stay viable for twelve to forty-eight hours, at which time it will begin to fall apart. This process is known as ovulation. If you have sexual intercourse on or around this day you have a good chance of getting pregnant.
Menstrual cycles are timed from the first day of your last period to the day before your next period. On average this is a twenty-eight to thirty-two day time span. But not all women have twenty eight days between cycles, so it is important that you track your periods and know what your cycle is if you want to know when you might ovulate.
For those who do have a twenty-eight day cycle, ovulation will typically happen around the fourteenth day of your cycle, but it could be between the eleventh day and the twenty-first day, or any other day. Since menstrual periods and the length of cycles vary, so will the exact timing of ovulation.
A woman’s brain produces luteinizing hormone or LH. When the levels of this hormone surge, it causes an egg to be released. At this same time the mucus made in your cervix changes, becoming a little thicker and more slippery, so that it will help protect and feed the sperm as well as providing a faster path for the sperm to reach the egg.
Understanding that your menstrual cycle is different from other women, and that it can in fact change a little from month to month will help you compute the most likely ovulation time and determine when you are most fertile. There are online calculators that will help you do this, many that will calculate your peak fertility days for the next several months.
Ovulation and Pregnancy
Typically a woman’s fertile period starts about five days before she ovulates, ending up to forty-eight hours after ovulation has occurred. While the egg may not be ready before ovulation, sperm can live in a woman’s body for up to five days, so if you have sexual intercourse several days before you ovulate and not on the day of ovulation, you can still get pregnant. However, the chances of getting pregnant increase significantly on ovulation day and the before ovulation.
Statistics show that normal fertile couples have about a twenty-five percent chance each menstrual cycle to get pregnant. For those women having regular sex, who aren’t on any form of birth control, this translates to around eighty percent of these women getting pregnant within a year. If you want to get pregnant you can increase your chances of conceiving by understanding your menstrual cycle and plotting your fertile days each month.
Your age and weight can significantly affect the chances of getting pregnant.
Fertility and Your Weight
If you have an above normal body mass index or BMI this means that it may take you twice as long to get pregnant as it does someone with a normal body weight. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has stated that even losing five to ten percent of your body weight can significantly approve your ovulation which will result in a better chance of getting pregnant. The reverse is also true, where a woman’s reproductive organs and fertility are adversely affected if they are considerably underweight.
Fertility and Age
If you are a healthy thirty-year old woman, you have a twenty percent chance each month of conceiving; at forty-years old your chances drop to five percent. Age affects fertility, dropping drastically after thirty-five years old. If you are under thirty-five and you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year you should talk to your doctor. If over thirty-five and after trying for six months you should speak to your doctor.
Older men also have issues with fertility, as sperm count and movement of the sperm will drop, taking longer after age forty-five for fertile couples who are trying to conceive. Men can boost their fertility by avoiding alcohol and tobacco, managing stress levels, and keeping their weight in check. They can also add zinc, selenium, and vitamin E to their diet. They should also avoid saunas, hot tubs, and hot baths, which may decrease their sperm count.
Recently scientists and doctors have found evidence linking environmental factors to fertility issues. You may be able to enhance your chances of getting pregnant by avoiding the use of some plastics, including plastic wrap. Augment your diet with foods rich in folic acids, and include more organic foods. You should also avoid alcohol and caffeine if you wish to get pregnant, as well as work on maintaining a healthy weight.