Identify Your Fertile Window: Timing and Frequency of Lovemaking
Successfully achieving pregnancy depends on accurately predicting when you ovulate each month and timing intercourse accordingly. If the egg can only survive less than a day, this means that sperm must be present to fertilize or the cycle is lost. Sperm, however, can survive longer than the egg - and this extends your fertile window from 24 hours to a handful of days.
Other key variables that determine the length of the fertile window include sperm health and number (count), sperm metabolism (energy), the presence of "fertile" cervical mucus, and a "sperm-friendly" vaginal environment (low acidity). In a "best case" scenario, sperm can survive up to a about week, but that is only under ideal circumstances. More reasonably, for the purposes of trying-to-conceive, we can safely posit a fertile window of about three days - and we'll call these days "peak fertility". Peak fertility might be loosely defined, then, as the two days prior to ovulation and no more than the 24 hours following the release of the egg from the ovary.
Timing intercourse for peak fertility requires, ideally, that we make love on each of these vital days! So, if you are using a bbt chart, monitoring fertility signs like cervical mucus, or utilizing the ovulation prediction products discussed below, we can narrow in on these days for procreative sex. Yes, this is "sex on demand", and while its not the most Romantic of circumstances, we do have products like Pre-Seed to help us moisturize and promote sperm-friendly conditions even when we may not "be in the mood".
Sperm Count and Frequency of Intercourse: Sperm count is also a variable - and in some cases where a doctor has documented sperm count issues, you may be asked to refrain from daily sex prior to your fertile window in order to allow the sperm to replenish themselves and re-populate. While most doctors recommend that you make love throughout your cycle - not just during ovulation time - we must also consider the toll frequent lovemaking may take on the sperm count. Hence, if you are trying to conceive, some experts recommend that a man should not ejaculate more than every thirty-six hours, at least until peak fertility. During these key days, its advised to make love daily!
Early-Pregnancy-Tests.com carries home sperm tests you can use to check your sperm count/motility at home. These tests are designed to see if you need to talk with your doctor about possible sperm count/sperm quality-related issues.
Pinpointing Peak Fertility with Monitors and Tests
Now that we know when to make love in a theoretical sense, let's look at options for practically targeting those days in real-life. Besides the charting methods discussed in the previous articles, let's look at products to help you identify the days of peak fertility. The following fertility prediction products are designed to detect two reproductive hormones - estrogen and LH (or luteinizing hormone). Estrogen prepares the womb for pregnancy; LH actually facilitates the release of the egg by creating a "hole" in the follicle so the ovum can "drop" into your fallopian tube. By detecting these sudden hormonal shifts, you can target the three key days of peak fertility.
Ovulation Tests: Urine ovulation tests are a fantastic tool and the most popular predictors on the market. As noted above, a surge in the luteinizing hormone causes ovulation to take place. If you can identify the LH surge, you know you are most fertile and its time to time intercourse daily over the next three days. An LH surge will take place about ten to thirty-six hours before you ovulate. So, the moment you see that first positive, you've entered peak fertility. Typically, a surge lasts just a day or two, so you should be testing at least once daily during this general time frame. Accurate and effect, urine LH tests remain the standard for trying to conceive couples.
Ovulation Microscopes: Instead of focusing on LH, the ovulation microscope targets the more gradual increase of estrogens. This means that the scope will not only provide you with information on the days of peak fertility, but it will give you an "early alert" by signaling "transitional" fertility days as well - up to a week's warning that your body is preparing itself to ovulate. An ovulation microscope is handy because you use saliva instead of urine; simply let a saliva sample dry and view the result: If you see "ferning" patterns (a network of reticulate crystals) then you know you are approaching the big day. The more intense and concentrated the crystalline patterns, the closer you are to O day.
Computerized Fertility Monitors: Hi-tech digital fertility monitors are another interesting option! Though more costly, these computerized predictive tools allow you to angle in on both LH and estrogen. This doubles your predictive power!
Clear Blue (formerly ClearPlan) Monitor: The first and still the best (in our opinion), this monitor utilizes urine samples and will tell you if you are at low, high, or peak fertility. It's a computer - and the results are unambiguous - displayed in a digital readout. The results can be uploaded to your home computer for easy fertility charting. We love this product because it's backed by a reputable manufacturer - one you can call on the phone if you have any questions or problems. The ClearBlue does require that you purchase special test sticks for the device.
OV-Watch: The OV-Watch is the newest addition to the monitor family. It's an interesting innovation because its used at night when you are in bed and detects changes in perspiration. It has biosensors (1 sensor per cycle) that make contact with the skin and measure chloride ion levels in your skin's perspiration. These chloride ion levels are affected by fluctuations in reproductive hormones. This device is designed to give you a full 5 day warning of impending fertility. You can test while you sleep and have a result waiting for you in the morning when you awake.
OvaCue: OvaCue uses saliva samples to monitor estrogen. Like the ClearBlue, its a computerized device that alerts you to both transitional and peak days. You can also buy an accessory sensor that can be inserted in the vagina to track LH and estrogens. Though initially more expensive than other products, you do not need to keep buying test sticks or biosensors each month, which is nice if you end up TTC long-term.
Any of these products can give you a big edge in learning about your cycle and identifying when to time intercourse. Just remember that when it comes to conceiving a baby, there is no "normal" time frame. The couple down the street may get pregnant without even seeming to try - but for the rest of us, it may take a while! Don't lose heart, and know that you are not alone: If you were, Ovulation-Calculator.com would not exist, and neither would this veritable panoply of fertility products!