Did you know that the possibility of getting pregnant increases if you have unprotected sex three days before you ovulate? One study reports that there’s a 27% to 33% risk of getting pregnant if you have sex on any of these three days!
What is Ovulation and Why is it Important?
At some point in a woman’s menstrual cycle, a mature egg is released from the ovary. The egg travels to the fallopian tube waiting for sperms to fertilize it. The result is pregnancy.
Here’s the thing, pregnancy is only possible during the first five days before ovulation. This is called the “fertile window.” The sperm cells have a life span of five days and the ovum only has 24 hours. If say, a woman had sex six days before she ovulates, there’s no chance she’d be pregnant.
However, if she had unprotected sex five days before she ovulates, the chance of pregnancy jumps to 10%. And likelihood of getting pregnant increases until two days before the day she ovulates.
This is why calculating the day of your ovulation is important if you want to avoid unwanted pregnancy. You want to avoid days when conditions to conceive are perfect.
Ways to Calculate Ovulation
The Calendar Method
The most common way to track a woman’s ovulation is by using the calendar method. As the name implies, you use a calendar to predict ovulation. Although some women could predict their ovulation this way, this is mainly used to track the range of days you are fertile.
First, mark the first date of your cycle; this is when your period stars. Track how many days your period lasts.
Count the number of days in every cycle, including the date your period began. The last day of every cycle is the day before your next menstrual cycle starts.
Now, track your cycle for 8 to 12 cycles to determine an accurate prediction of your ovulation. Start making a list of the cycles you tracked by listing down the month your period began in one column and the number of days the cycle lasts in the second column. From there, you will get an idea when your next cycle will start.
Then, find the shortest cycle in the chart; this will predict your fertile day. Subtract 18 from the total number of days in your shortest menstrual cycle. From day one, count that number of days in your cycle and mark the day you land on the calendar. This day will be the fertile day in your cycle. This means there’s a higher chance of getting pregnant if you have unprotected sex on that day.
The Cervical Mucus Method
Vaginal discharge could also indicate your fertile days. Cervical mucus forms a protective layer on the cervix. The viscosity of the mucus changes with every menstrual cycle.
To track your cervical mucus to predict fertile days, note the chances of vaginal discharge over the course of your cycle. Note the days when you have your period; days when the vaginal discharge is tacky, milky, slippery, or sticky. Changes in color or texture could also help predict fertile days.
Record the vaginal discharge for the first few months until you start seeing a pattern. When a woman ovulates, her cervical mucus is likely slippery or wet. At the driest point in your cycle, chances of fertility are at its lowest.
To calculate your ovulation through temperature method, you will need to use a basal thermometer. Basal thermometers, unlike regular thermometers, could detect slight changes in temperature. Basal thermometers are widely available in most drugstores.
Generally, a woman’s temperature is at its highest when ovulating and lowest in the first part of her cycle. Throughout the duration of the cycle, a woman’s temperature will remain elevated.
When tracking your temperature, it’s important that you do so when the body is at complete rest. You may need to track your temperature for more than three months before seeing a pattern that will predict ovulation.
Using a basal temperature, track your temperature during the first part of your cycle. Track the slight increase in temperature near and during your menstrual cycle. Do your temperature tracking on the same time each day. Ideally, take your temperature in the morning because this is the time when the body is completely at rest.
A woman’s average temperature is 96 to 98 degrees before ovulation and 97 to 99 degrees during and after ovulation — measure within 1/10 of a degree.
If you’re not keen on tracking your cycles through calendar or cervical mucus, you could always buy an ovulation kit. Ovulation kit is a simple device that can detect Luteinizing Hormone in urine. Luteinizing hormone increases two days before ovulation. Ovulation kits are widely available in local drugstores and they look and work similarly like a pregnancy test kit.
However, do note that there is always trace amounts of LH in urine, regardless if the person is ovulating or not. This means ovulation kit isn’t as accurate as other methods of predicting ovulation in women.