The biology of making a baby sounds simple. Combine sperm and egg, and in nine months, you have an infant, right? Unfortunately, some of us need a little more planning. Body temperatures, calendars, rhythms … getting pregnant can certainly seem more like an art than a science. Just how well can you determine the most optimal time to conceive?
Conception can happen after a woman ovulates. Ovulation occurs every month about midway through a woman's menstrual cycle. During ovulation, a woman's ovary releases a mature egg, which then travels through the fallopian tube, where a sperm can fertilize it. If an egg isn't fertilized, it passes out of the body, and the cycle begins again.
After ovulation, you have a 12- to 24-hour window for the sperm to fertilize the egg, and when you're trying to conceive, that's not much time to get it right [source: WebMD]. On top of that, ovulation doesn't always occur at the same time during each monthly cycle. Factors such as significant weight changes, excessive exercise, stress and illness can all prevent you from ovulating regularly.
However, pinpointing the moment you ovulate doesn't have to be a roll of the dice. Your body does send signals to help you figure it out. Pay attention to these signs, and you may know when you're ovulating.
- Cervical mucus: Your cervical mucus changes throughout your menstrual cycle. Just before you ovulate, the amount of mucus increases and becomes sticky and slippery.
- Basal body temperature: Basal body temperature is your resting temperature. When you're ovulating, your temperature may rise slightly.
- Cramping: Some women experience slight abdominal cramping when they ovulate.
Now that you know what to look for when you ovulate, let's see if you can predict your actual day of ovulation.