Family Planning

All About Ovulation and Fertility

Ovulation is probably something you don’t pay much attention to until you’re trying to get pregnant, when it suddenly becomes a hot topic. The time it takes to reach ovulation, or the release of eggs from the ovaries, varies from woman to woman, although it generally takes place two weeks before your menstrual cycle occurs. If your cycles are predictable – every 28 days, for instance – then your cycle is likely normal; if they are less predictable, there may be an ovulatory problem. Likewise, if cycles are always the same length, we can look backwards and determine when ovulation occurred (in a 28-day cycle, it likely took place at day 14) and use that to predict upcoming cycles.

Another way to predict ovulation is your basal body temperature, which must be checked first thing in the morning; some women report a dip in their temperature during ovulation. Temperatures increase after ovulation providing another clue. Finally, ovulation predictor kits check for luteal hormone surge via urine, while fertility trackers such as Ava rely on closely monitoring heart rate and body temperature to track fertile days.

“While all this might sound like a lot of work, women are most fertile on the day of ovulation and able to get pregnant in general in the five-or-so days leading up to it as well, so this information can be really helpful, especially if you are struggling to get pregnant,” said Dr. David Clay. “Intercourse within that fertility window is typically most effective and generally intercourse every other day is more effective than daily, so pinpointing the timing is really meaningful for couples.”

While men produce millions of sperm each day, most of them are not functional, for a variety of reasons. It takes about 36 to 48 hours to replenish the store of “normal” sperm, so the ideal frequency entails sufficient time in between intercourse while not wasting opportunities within the fertile window. Many couples believe they should have sex daily, but that can work against fertility in some cases.

 

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