When Can You Get Pregnant?
08/23/2012 | 02:16 PM
So you want to make a baby? As you’re probably well aware, at certain times a woman is more fertile. If you want to optimize your chances, it’s a good idea to learn about the timing of the menstrual cycle.
Knowing When You Ovulate Can Help You Plan Pregnancy
Ovulation occurs when a mature egg is released from the ovary and pushed down the fallopian tube. By this time, the lining of the uterus has already thickened to make way for an egg. If the egg is not fertilized, it will be shed in the menstrual cycle. Ovulation takes place about two weeks before a woman gets her period.
When a male ejaculates into a woman’s cervix, his sperm can live inside of the body for up to five days or even longer. In this process the XY or XX chromosomes can fertilize the egg. The XY chromosomes are slightly weaker than the XX chromosomes, so they may only last 1 to 2 days inside of the female body due to the acidic environment, although they are slightly faster, giving them a competitive edge. Conception is established when the egg is fertilized.
The best time to get pregnant is to have intercourse 3 to 4 days before ovulation. This gives the sperm enough time to travel into the cervix where they can meet the egg.
When does ovulation happen
The menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of a woman’s period. Roughly two weeks later, she will ovulate, then 10-16 days after this she will have her next period. The average cycle takes 28 days, but shorter or longer cycles are normal. If you have a regular 28-day cycle, you will be most fertile around the 14th day.
There are several ways to track your ovulation. If you are trying to monitor your cycles, either to avoid or plan for a pregnancy, try to stay healthy. A healthy lifestyle will mean you are more likely to have regular periods.
- Ovulation Predictor Kit - This monitors a surge of LH hormones which usually peak 48-24 hours before ovulation. Like the pregnancy test, this is an urination test.
- Basal Body Temperature (BBT) - Your BBT changes throughout the day and is lowest while you are asleep, so it’s important that you measure it at the same time each day, normally just after you wake up, and before any physical activity. During ovulation, your BBT will rise one-half to one degree Fahrenheit (one-quarter to one-half degree Celsius) so monitoring it will help you know when you can conceive.
- Cervical Mucus - This will also change as ovulation comes closer. The mucus is normally thick and glue-like. Start noting the characteristic of your cervical mucus on the first day after your menstrual cycle stops. About five to seven days later, there should be a change in its look and texture – it becomes thin and stretchy. This is a great sign of your coming fertile days – now is the time to have intercourse if you want to become pregnant.
There are many forms of contraception if you want to avoid pregnancy. To be on the safe side, some people use several at once. They might use the contraceptive pill to avoid pregnancy and condoms to prevent for sexually transmitted infections. Condoms are the only form of contraception that can protect against STDs.
The most effective methods of contraception are long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods, such as the injection, implant, IUS (intrauterine system) and IUD (intrauterine device).
For example the IUD involves inserting the device into a woman’s uterus. There are two types of IUD: copper IUD, which hinders mobility of sperm cells and thus reduces the chances of fertilization, and the Mirena, which releases the hormone levonorgestrel, which is a form of the hormone progestin. The use of this form of contraceptive is slightly more efficient than the copper IUD (also known as the coil); the pregnancy rate in a 5-year cycle is estimated to be about 0.7%.
There are two types of emergency contraception:
- Plan B (sometimes called the morning-after pill) - You can take buy Plan B One-Step, Next Choice and Levonorgestrel Tablets from your local pharmacy without a prescription if you are 17 and older. Women aged 16 and younger need a prescription. You can take these up to 13 days after unprotected sex. However, they are most effective the sooner you take them after the act.
- Ella is sold by prescription only, regardless of age - You can also order ella through an online prescription service for $40, including next-day shipping. With Ella, you can take it up to five days after unprotected sex, giving you an extra two days, however the drawback is that you need a prescription.
If you take Plan B when you are already pregnant, it will not work. However, taking Plan B if you are pregnant will not cause birth defects.
The best time to get pregnant is to have intercourse several times during the 4-day time period, lasting from three days prior and one day after ovulation. If you aren’t sure when you ovulate, you can use a calendar method, by subtracting 18 from the total number of days in your cycle to find out the first day that you are fertile. Or you can use the basal body temperature or an ovulation predictor kit. Sperm can survive in a woman’s body for several days after ejaculation, but you want to make a baby, its best to give them the best chance possible.