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When are you most fertile?

It may be easier than you think to find those magical days of ovulation when you're most fertile.
It may be easier than you think to find those magical days of ovulation when you're most fertile.
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Believe it or not, you can look at fertility in much the same way as businesspeople look at economics -- large scale (macro) and small scale (micro). On other levels, of course, we wouldn't wish to compare the deeply personal and intimate act of creating a child with the cold world of industry and commerce, but when it comes to the issue of conception timing, you really have to look at what's happening with the big picture of your life as well as the month-to-month details.

Following this line of thinking, the large-scale, or macro, viewpoint of fertility looks at the period when you're most fertile during your childbearing years. The small-scale, or micro, perspective focuses on when during any given month you're most likely to conceive. If you're a woman, you're at your most fertile from the ages of 20 to 24 [source: American Society for Reproductive Medicine]. Of course, in our current society, many couples are choosing to start families later. And while you can't deny biology, not having a child in your early 20s doesn't mean you're not capable of having one later on. By the time you're 40 years old, your odds of getting pregnant have dropped from 90 percent to 67 percent [source: The National Infertility Association]. This means that you still have a chance -- although not as great of a chance -- of conceiving.

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Regardless of where you are in your reproductive years, there's another, smaller-scale guide to your fertility, and that is your monthly cycle. Women tend to be most fertile in the days leading up to and during ovulation (when a matured egg is released and ready for fertilization). Ovulation occurs toward the middle of your menstrual cycle. Once released, a typical egg lives 12 to 24 hours, and generally only one egg is released during each cycle [source: American Pregnancy]. So, if pregnancy is your goal, take advantage of the days around ovulation when your body is at its most fertile.

On the next page, we'll show you how to pinpoint your fertile days.

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The methods for preventing pregnancy are fairly direct (although not always foolproof). When it comes to conceiving, however, you may find that there's a lot more planning -- and even guessing -- involved. How can something so natural take so much work?

Fortunately, it may be easier than you think to find those magical days of ovulation when you're most fertile. There are a number of options, and most can be done on your own:

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Bodily observations: Ovulation isn't nearly as conspicuous as menstruation, but if you pay attention to your body, you can sometimes tell you're ovulating. Signs might include light spotting, slight abdominal pain on one side and increased sex drive [source: American Pregnancy].

Calculating your cycle: Ovulation generally occurs in the middle of your cycle, and can be anywhere from day 11 to day 21 [source: American Pregnancy]. To pinpoint this phase, count from the first day of your last menstrual period. There are many online ovulation calculators you can use to help with this.

Charting your basal body temperature: When your body releases an egg, it also releases progesterone, a hormone that thickens your uterine lining and also slightly increases your body temperature [source: WebMD]. You can find basal thermometers at most drugstores, and use them to see if you can detect a rise in temperature during certain times of the month.

Tracking the luteinizing hormone (LH): This hormone is responsible for releasing an egg during ovulation. Ovulation kits that check for LH levels in your urine provide a fairly accurate means for determining ovulation [source WebMD].

Now that you know how to find your most fertile days, your next step is to take advantage of them. And don't pressure yourself to find the exact day of ovulation; viable sperm can live in the reproductive tract for up to three days [source: American Baby].

Keep reading for lots more information on fertility and reproduction.

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Sources

  • American Baby. "8 Surprising Fertility Facts." Discovery Health. (March 20, 2011)https://health.howstuffworks.com/pregnancy-and-parenting/pregnancy/fertility/eight-surprising-fertility-facts7.htm
  • American Baby. "Fertility and Your Age." Discovery Health. (March 20, 2011)https://health.howstuffworks.com/pregnancy-and-parenting/pregnancy/fertility/fertility-and-your-age.htm
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "Later Childbearing." December 2006. (March 20, 2011)http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp060.cfm
  • American Fertility Association. "Understanding Your Most Fertile Time." (March 20, 2011)http://www.theafa.org/library/article/understanding_your_most_fertile_time/
  • American Pregnancy Association. "Ovulation Frequently Asked Questions." January 2005. (March 20, 2011)http://www.americanpregnancy.org/gettingpregnant/ovulationfaq.htm
  • American Pregnancy Association. "Understanding Ovulation." August 2006. (March 20, 2011)http://www.americanpregnancy.org/gettingpregnant/understandingovulation.html
  • American Society for Reproductive Medicine. "Age and Fertility -- A Guide for Patients." 2003. (March 20, 2011)http://www.asrm.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/Resources/Patient_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Info_Booklets/agefertility.pdf
  • Childbirth Solutions. "Understanding Your Most Fertile Time." (March 20, 2011)http://www.childbirthsolutions.com/articles/preconception/understanding/index.php
  • Heubeck, Elizabeth. "Age Raises Infertility Risk in Men, Too." WebMD. 2005.(March 20, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/guide/age-raises-infertility-risk-in-men-too
  • Resolve, the National Infertility Association. "Risk Factors." (March 20, 2011)http://www.resolve.org/infertility-overview/optimizing-fertility/risk-factors.html
  • Resolve, the National Infertility Association. "Risk Factors for Women." (March 20, 2011)http://www.resolve.org/infertility-overview/optimizing-fertility/risk-factors-for-women.html
  • WebMD. "Understanding Ovulation and Fertility: Facts to Help You Get Pregnant." May 21, 2009. (March 20, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/baby/slideshow-understanding-fertility-ovulation

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