When you’re trying to get pregnant, you’re going to want every possible advantage – even if you’re in perfect reproductive health, it can take longer than you might want to get that all important positive result on your pregnancy test. If you have any factors weighing against your fertility, like low motility in your sperm or hormone based issues like PCOS or hyperthyroidism, then it’s all the more important to do everything you can to move the odds back in your favour.
One of the most important but simplest things you can do is to track your fertility: your fertility isn’t a simple arc across your lifetime, starting high after puberty and tailing off in your late 30s. Over the course of a month (or rather, the rough month’s length of your menstrual cycle) your chances of conceiving wax and wane – your fertility rises and falls. If you can learn how to track your fertility, you’ll know when you’re most likely to conceive successfully, and when you should be trying to get pregnant to give yourself the best chance.
Your fertility is tied to when you ovulate: if you’re trying to get pregnant at a time when there’s no egg in your system for sperm to encounter and fertilise then quite simply you can’t get pregnant. You need to know when you’re going to ovulate, how long that egg is going to remain fertile for afterwards, and how long sperm can stay in your body in order to reach it and fertilise it!
Many women over the years have tracked their Basal Body Temperature to try and get a prediction of when they’re going to ovulate, and while it’s quite difficult to do manually, it does usually provide accurate results that can help you get pregnant. You’ll need a thermometer that gives you an accurate digital readout down to tenths of a degree. Taking your temperature (ideally vaginally, for the most accurate data) every morning before you get up will let you see, over the time the pattern of temperature changes that shows when your body is about to ovulate. You’re looking for a small drop, followed by a consistent rise over the next three days. A modern ovulation monitor can take a lot of the work out of this method for you, automatically turning temperature readings into a result for you.
An egg survives for a maximum of 24 hours after it’s released from the ovaries, and sperm can survive in your body for as long as five days! This gives you a six day ‘fertile window’ around when you ovulate to try and conceive when your fertility is at its peak for that cycle.