While many women experience ovulation symptoms, by the time some signs appear, it may be too late to take advantage of the 3 fertile days of the menstrual cycle. By tracking monthly signs of ovulation, such as pain, cramping, spotting, hot flashes and night sweats, and breast tenderness, and recording daily basal body temperatures, women can create an ovulation calculator and calendar that will let them know the most favorable days for conception or even the days to avoid intercourse.
What Is An Ovulation Calculator?
There are several different types of tools and ways for calculating the days when ovulation will most likely occur. These tools are based on averages and women who have irregular menses or a cycle that is timed differently than the average may not find these tools accurate. Even if you have a regular period, there is no way to pinpoint the exact date of ovulation since each woman is different. Just like trying to anticipate the day of your menstrual period is not an exact science, you can use ovulation symptoms and planning to make an educated guess. Below, we will offer your multiple examples and then ways for you to create your own ovulation calendar.
Setting Up An Ovulation Calendar
An ovulation calendar shows the days of each menstrual cycle and is used to record signs of ovulation and basal body temperature. About two days before ovulation occurs, there is a slight drop in the basal body temperature which is followed by a sharp increase when the egg is released from the ovary. It usually takes three to four months to establish the exact day that ovulation normally occurs, but an ovulation calculator may be able to help woman find the right day with as little as two months data.
For example, if the first day of your last menstrual period is on the 1st of the month, your cycle lasts 28 days, and your period is 5 days long, you will probably be fertile between the 12th and 16th, with your ovulation day on the 15th.
How Accurate Can I Get?
If a woman has regular menses and is in good health, ovulation should occur on the same day of her cycle every month. Oral contraceptives, steroids, certain medications, stress, sleep deprivation, unhealthy eating habits, and some medical conditions can cause changes in the monthly cycle that make calculators unreliable. Excessive physical exercise can stop menses and ovulation in some women. Morbid obesity or anorexia can upset the balance of a woman’s body and change her monthly calendar.
The key to understanding why calculating fertility is important is based on the biology of men and women. Sperm remain viable and motile for up to 48 hours after sexual intercourse, but an ovum begins to degrade and disintegrate 12 hours after it is released. Having sexual intercourse in the two days prior to ovulation increases the chances for conception since the sperm are already present when the ovum is released. Knowing in advance when ovulation will occur allows couples to take full advantage of the short fertile period.
When Conception Does Not Occur
Couples that have been using an ovulation calculator and have not conceived within three or four months may wish to seek medical advice. Conditions that can interfere with conception include scar tissue on a woman’s fallopian tubes that block the passage of the ovum to the uterus. In men, a low sperm count, or low sperm motility can make conception difficult. There are a number of medical conditions in women, some of them serious, which can prevent pregnancy. Only an experienced physician can test for medical problems that stop conception.
Fertilization and Implantation
While ovulation symptoms can help couples achieve fertilization of an ovum, not all fertilized ovum implant in the uterine wall to become a viable pregnancy. Just as certain medical conditions can prevent ovulation and fertilization, there are conditions which stop fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterine wall. Fibroid tumors, uterine cancers and bacterial or viral infections can interfere with implantation and cause fertilized eggs to be expelled from the body.
Ectopic Pregnancy and Miscarriage
In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized ovum implants outside the womb, most often in the fallopian tubes. About 2% of pregnancies are ectopic and more than half of ectopic pregnancies end in early miscarriage. Women who smoke, have had an induced abortion, have contracted PID or certain STDs or were exposed to DES in utero have a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy. Since ectopic pregnancy has a high maternal mortality rate if left untreated, women who experience pain or bleeding after conception should seek medical help immediately.
Ovulation Test Kits
There are changes in the balance of hormones as a woman approaches ovulation and test kits take advantage of the changes by testing for increased luteinizing hormone (LH) in the urine. While LH is always present in a woman’s urine, there is a surge of the hormone in the 24 to 48 hours preceding ovulation. Women can use ovulation test kits along with an ovulation calculator to pinpoint their most fertile days. For best results, the test should be performed about the same time every day.
Women who have used an ovulation calculator and want to find out if they are pregnant before their regular menstrual cycle is missed can use over the counter pregnancy testing kits 5 to 7 days after the date of ovulation. New pregnancy tests can detect even low levels of the hormone hCG which is found only in pregnant women. If an early pregnancy test is positive, an ovum has been fertilized and has implanted. Once a woman knows she is pregnant, she should arrange a visit with a doctor as soon as possible.
An ovulation calculator can help couples become pregnant by predicting those days when a woman is likely to be most fertile. While having intercourse during the most fertile days of the cycle cannot guarantee conception or pregnancy, it does help improve the chances of conceiving a child.