When you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s important to understand fertility – how it affects your body, and how your body affects it. When you know the key questions to ask about fertility, you can use the answers to boost your own chances of getting pregnant!
When are you Fertile?
You are fertile for a surprisingly short time within your cycle. Sperm need to encounter a viable egg in order to fertilise and eggs are only viable for a maximum of twenty-four hours after you ovulate. While eggs are only viable for a day, sperm are more hardy: after ejaculation, sperm can last as long as five days in the uterus and fallopian tubes. This gives you a fertile window of approximately six days: five days before you ovulate and one day after.
As your fertile window is defined by the date of ovulation, a better question to ask might be ‘when do you ovulate?’
How Do You Know When You’ll Ovulate?
There are several different ways to track your ovulations. If you have a regular menstrual cycle, you can rely on ovulating on the same day each time – not the same calendar date, but the same number of days after your period, which marks the start of your menstrual cycle.
OPKs – Ovulation predictor kits – track the level of ovulation related hormones in your urine. They’re relatively easy to use, and widely available but the results aren’t always reliable. If you use the test at the wrong time, it can miss the surge of hormones filtering into your urine and won’t tell you that you’re ovulating even if you are!
BBT tracking can be more accurate but requires more work from you. You need to take your temperature every morning before you get up and begin to move about (and therefore raise your temperature) and chart the results. If you know the patterns to search for you can detect when you ovulate. This is accurate, but not as useful for people with irregular cycles because it only tells about ovulation on or after it happens.
How Can I Boost My Fertility?
The first step is to track when you ovulate and work out your fertile window. If you know when you’re fertile, you’re a substantial advantage compared with people who haven’t put this work in.
You can boost your fertility further with simple dietary changes and some supplements. It’s important to do your research and make sure you’re making changes that will specifically help you rather than wasting your efforts (and potentially money!) on diets or pills that don’t actually do anything for you.
Some simple changes are to eat more leafy green vegetables, which contain lots of the vitamins that contribute to healthy eggs and sperm, and to regular menstrual cycles. If you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (one of the most common conditions that can affect your fertility) then a supplement called Inositol can help to restore regular and spontaneous ovulation.