Normally, a woman is most fertile at or around her ovulation period that corresponds to day 14 of a normal 28 days ovarian cycle. It is very important to know your fertile period for a number of reasons. First of all, if you are looking to get pregnant, here is your chance to conceive by frequent intercourse just before or soon after ovulation. On the other hand if you want to prevent pregnancy, avoiding physical intercourse for 5 days before and 3 days after ovulation is sufficient, without needing any other mode of contraception. This article will provide a more detailed discussion about when a woman is most fertile.
When Is a Woman Most Fertile?
What factors are most important for fertility? Following factors determine the fertility in females that may help in accomplishing targeted goals.
1. Age and Fertility
Fertility decreases as a woman age. Previously it was believed that the female fertility decreases significantly after 35 years of age; however, latest research suggest that women are most fertile when they are between 19 to 26-year-old, after which fertility decreases significantly with each passing year. The statistical data indicated that by the time women reach 27 to 34, her chances of getting pregnant are 40% less than those who are under 26.
Consequently, a woman has only 30% chance of getting pregnant after 35 in any given cycle with even lesser chance if the male partner is 5 years or older (due to defects in the quality and quantity of sperms).
The following chart shows the chances of getting pregnant depending on the age. It's important to know that the chart serves only as a guide, which shows the average pregnancy rate for women in their best health condition.
2. Ovulation and Fertility
Besides age, a woman is only fertile when she is ovulating. To learn more about your ovulation period, it is important to learn Fertility awareness - a concept that is helpful in planning your pregnancy naturally. Generally a woman is fertile for only 5 days during an entire 28 day ovarian cycle that corresponds to:
10th day of a 24- day ovarian cycle
14th day of a 28- day ovarian cycle
21st day of a 35- day ovarian cycle
The normal length of an ovarian cycle is anywhere between 24 to 35 days and generally ovulation precede menstrual cycle from 12 to 16 days. Planning your pregnancy demands a little knowledge about your ovarian cycle, since length of cycle vary among different women and even in the same women at different points of life.
The following methods are generally helpful in knowing more about your cycle and fertility period:
1. Calendar (Rhythm) method
Calendar method is simple and most practical in women who have regular menstrual cycles. You can track your cycle length on a calendar and calculate your estimated time of ovulation in order to determine most fertile period. Make sure to measure a few cycles to ascertain with precision. Your most fertile period is anywhere between 4-5 days before ovulation.
Although fairly helpful, this method is not very accurate due to variability of menstrual cycle length in women due to hormonal, dietary and lifestyle habits.
2. Standard days method (SDM)
This is one of the helpful natural methods for women who have regular cycles between 26 and 32 days. These women can use CycleBeads to keep the track of their cycles. For example, the cycle starts with red bead that denotes Day 1 of the cycle and if you continue counting each bead as one day, you will get to brown bead (that corresponds to Day 26) before the last bead (that denotes the last day of the cycle or Day 32). Once again, if your cycle length is variable, it is better to choose other methods for the estimation of fertile period.
3. Basal body temperature (BBT) method
Basal body temperature is another popular method that is used by a lot of women to ascertain their ovulation, marked by a rise of 1- 2 degrees due to luteinizing hormone (LH) surge. This method requires you to maintain a basal body temperature chart by taking the lowest temperature of the day. Just before ovulation, most women observe a slight drop in the body temperature due to hormonal influence that is followed by a rise of 1- 2 degrees a couple of days after ovulation. Increasing the frequency of intercourse during this period increases your chances of getting pregnant significantly.
4. Cervical mucus method (Billings method)
Monitoring of cervical mucus also helps in knowing about your ovulation. Most women can feel noticeable thinning of mucus that is stringy and clear. When ovulation time is not near, cervical mucus is generally thick and cloudy with very little amount of discharge.
5. Hormone monitoring
Ovulation predictor kits are commercially available that detect changes in the concentration of hormonal breakdown products secreted in urine. You can dip a test strip in your urine and then read the level. More specialized dip sticks give actual amounts of luteinizing hormone (LH) that is being produced by your body. By far, this is the most reliable and hassle free methods available today.
6. Combined (symptothermal) method
Since all above listed methods give a presumptive idea about the fertile period, researchers suggest that it is far more helpful if you combine three or more tests to increase the credibility and accuracy of findings. This method combines cervical mucus discharge changes, basal body temperature rise, estimation of hormone breakdown products in your blood and lastly physical changes that follow ovulation like weight gain, tenderness in breast, bloating and alteration in normal mood and behavior.
How to Improve Fertility
Some helpful tips that can improve your chances of getting pregnant are:
1. Fertility Massage
Massaging helps in improving blood supply to the uterine cavity and other parts of female reproductive system that helps in elimination of toxins and chemicals.
Yoga and exercises promote natural health and well-being. Physical activity is needed by all the individuals to maintain optimal health and normal metabolism. Yoga and meditation are long known to promote fertility in females by adjusting hormonal secretion and release and also by increasing the blood flow to ovaries and all other parts of the reproductive system.
3. Foods and Herbs
Certain foods and herbs are helpful in improving female fertility by supplying essential nutrients for growth and development of egg. Foods rich in anti-oxidants promote fertility by decreasing age related wear and tea. Foods that can help improve fertility include: high fiber foods, whole grains, grass-fed meat, cold water fish and organic fruits& vegetables.
Moreover herbs like alfalfa, gingko biloba, Dong Quai, ginseng, primrose oil and saw palmetto are also helpful in stabilizing the hormonal production and release to maintain the integrity of female reproductive cycles. Make sure to take daily multi-vitamins but it is also suggested to consult a healthcare provider to avoid any drug reaction or toxicities of herbs.