If you’re trying to get pregnant, one of the most important things you can do is to find out when you’re going to be fertile.
You can get pregnant for a surprisingly short time in each menstrual cycle. Several different factors need to align in order to give you a chance of pregnancy, but most notably, a viable egg needs to encounter sperm. Eggs are viable for twenty-four hours after ovulation, at maximum – plenty of things can affect egg health, and reduce that time. Sperm, meanwhile, can survive for around five days in a woman’s reproductive system after sex, and again, that lifespan can drop depending on health conditions, diet and lifestyle choices.
If you miss that time when the lifespan of sperm and eggs overlap, then you’ve missed your opportunity to get pregnant in that cycle and have to wait. If you ovulate more rarely, or irregularly, you might have fewer opportunities to conceive over the course of your life or find them harder to identify.
This makes it important to learn when you’re fertile – so you can tell in advance when you need to try for the best sense of success.
Tracking Basal Body Temperature
One of the most common ways of learning when you’re fertile is to track your basal body temperature. This is the low temperature your body drops to overnight, or during periods of extended rest.
Taking your temperature when you first wake up in the morning gives you access to this low level, and if you plot each reading on a graph across multiple cycles, you’ll see how your temperature changes across time.
Some of these changes form a pattern that shows when you’re going to ovulate. Many women experience a drop in temperature before ovulation of around one tenth of a degree, followed by a rise of a tenth of a degree. If you can identify this pattern, you can spot ovulation, though without enough notice to take advantage of your full fertile window.
A modern fertility tracker or device can help here, providing more fine tuned readings than a manual thermometer, and removing some of the human error that can lead to mistakes, and cause you to miss your fertile window.
Even better ones don’t just provide you with accurate readings but come with access to an algorithm or app that can process those readings. This allows them to look for patterns on a deeper level, to compare your data with library of other women and come up with better, longer term predictions, giving you access to more of your fertile window.