How to chart your ovulation – Part 1

It is important to note that a vast number of couples who are struggling to conceive are simply having sex at the wrong time. By knowing your own fertile signs and by having intercourse within your ‘fertile window’ you will maximise your chances of conceiving. ‘Fertility charting’ or ‘charting your ovulation’ is based on the idea that if we know when we are fertile or within our ‘fertile window’ and have intercourse during this time we can get pregnant more easily. You can take some steps to discover if and when you are fertile by observing your natural fertility signs. You are only fertile for a few days each cycle and your body will give you subtle signs that you are within your fertile window which you can observe and record. This method is highly reliable and can increase your chances of conceiving greatly.

key information

  • Women can only get pregnant when they are fertile and they are only fertile for a few days each menstrual cycle (3-6 days). This is known as her ‘fertile window’ (more on this here).
  • Only when a woman has sex during the ‘fertile window’ can she conceive.
  • The ‘fertile window’’ lasts for around 3-6 days each cycle.
  • Woman are most likely to conceive if she has sex one or two days before she ovulates or on the day she is ovulating.
  • Every woman is unique and so are her cycles. You will have your own pattern of fertility.
  • By observing your fertile signs each cycle it will help you to have intercourse at the correct time in order to get pregnant.
  • By charting your ovulation, it will help you to predict your future ovulation date and confirm when ovulation has occurred.


What are the fertility signs you should look out for?

You can read all about the fertile window ‘here’ and how to make the most of each menstrual cycle to maximise the chance of conception. The main sign you are approaching ovulation however is a change in your cervical mucus or discharge. It should change from a creamy texture to a wet, thin, watery discharge as you approach ovulation. This can occur up to 4-5 days before ovulation is going to take place. Your discharge should hopefully become stretchy and clear like egg white for a day or two before you ovulate . There are many more signs you can look out for so please take a look at ‘the fertile window’ section for more information.


What determines the length of the fertile window?

A woman is most likely to conceive if she has intercourse in the 1 or 2 days before she ovulates or on the day of ovulation. This is because a woman’s egg is only viable for 1 day after it is released (after the woman has ovulated). A sperm cell however, can last for up to 5 days if conditions are ideal. A woman can therefore potentially conceive if she has sex up to 5 days before she ovulates. The optimum time frame to have sex is within 2 days of ovulation or on the day of ovulation. This ensures that a fresh supply of sperm is present in the fallopian tubes waiting for egg to be released.  This leaves just 3 days per cycle when a woman is most likely to conceive. By charting your fertile signs, you can time intercourse correctly. and couples who focus on having sex during the ‘fertile window’ greatly increase their chances of conceiving.


Do woman ovulate on the same day each cycle?

Some women are very fortunate and will have a text book cycle, the average being a 28 day cycle with ovulation taking place on cycle day 14/15 giving a 14 day luteal phase. The reality is that every woman is different. Many women have cycles that are shorter or longer than 28 days and many women ovulate at different times in their cycle even if they have a normal cycle of 28 days in length. As an example, my cycles at the moment are 30 days long and I ovulate on around cycle day 18. This means my luteal phase is 12 days which is shorter than the average 14 days. It is important then to keep in mind that not only do woman have cycles of different lengths but we also have luteal phases of different lengths too (the number of days between ovulation and period) – (more on the luteal phase here). The luteal phase usually stays pretty consistent each cycle for each woman so if her periods are different lengths each cycle it is more than likely the time between her period and ovulation that is altering (the follicular phase) i.e. she is ovulating on different cycle days each menstrual cycle. By charting your fertile signs and basal body temperature each morning you can discover your own personal pattern including your luteal phase length and the cycle day you are ovulating on. This will help you to predict when your ‘fertile window’ is likely to be in future cycles. It is advised to have intercourse every day or every other day from the start of your fertile window until ovulation has taken place to have the greatest chance of conceiving. This is where charting your temperatures comes into play.


How to confirm ovulation?

Once you have ovulated, your ovaries will release a hormone called progesterone. This hormone helps to build up the uterine lining and keep it in place for a fertilised egg to implant. This hormone causes your body temperature to rise by half a degree or so. By recording your waking temperature on a daily basis (your temperature as soon as you wake in the morning), you can record this change in body temperature and pin point when ovulation has taken place. Once you have recorded 3 consecutive days of high temperatures you can be confident that ovulation has taken place and your fertile window is over.

In the proceeding sections of this guide I will discuss how to begin charting your fertile signs and body temperatures.

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