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Fertility health center

How to guide: Ovulation calculator


One way to help increase the odds of getting pregnant is to identify the most fertile times in the menstrual cycle with an ovulation calculator, or by charting fertility.


As you go through your menstrual cycle, your body gives you all sorts of clues to indicate when you are about to ovulate. You just need to know what to look for.


How to use an ovulation calculator


One way to track your ovulation  day is to use an ovulation calculator, like the one provided here by BootsWebMD. All you have to do is enter the dates of your last three periods.


Charting fertility


Charting involves:

Taking your basal body temperature

Examining your cervical mucus

Noting when your menstrual period began

Noting when you had sexual intercourse


Knowing this information can make a difference. Although around 84% of couples will fall pregnant within a year of trying, some couples who know how to determine when the woman ovulates and who have sex regularly during that time may conceive sooner. Charting can make you more in touch with your body. It's also helpful if you have questions for your GP, since he or she can see what you've been doing.


Taking your temperature


Basal body temperature (BBT) is your temperature when you wake up before getting out of bed and becoming active. It requires a special thermometer available from pharmacies. Monitoring a woman's BBT has been a time-honoured way of charting and predicting ovulation, and it's helped many women get pregnant. However, recent research has shown that it may not be as effective as experts previously thought.


Before ovulation, a woman's basal body temperature is usually consistent from day to day - for most women the figure will be about 36.1 to 36.4 degrees Celsius. During ovulation, your body releases the hormone progesterone, which results in a slightly raised temperature a day or two after ovulation - usually by 0.1 or 0.2 degrees. Your temperature will probably stay elevated until your next cycle begins. If you become pregnant during that cycle, your temperature will stay elevated beyond that.


A difference of 0.1 degree is very small, so it’s important to take the temperature in the same way every day. Also, keep in mind that the temperature change happens after ovulation, which means that once your temperature goes up, you've probably already missed your chance to become pregnant in that cycle. However, by charting your temperature every day over several cycles, you may start to see a pattern and be able to predict when you are most fertile.


Tips for taking and understanding your BBT


Begin taking your temperature on the first day of your period.

Take it at about the same time every day, preferably before you get out of bed in the morning.

Don't do anything - eat, drink, smoke or even move around - before you take your temperature.

You can take your temperature however you want - orally, rectally or vaginally - but make sure you use the same technique each time.

Write down your temperature every day on your fertility chart; you can make a graph with each day of your cycle on the bottom and temperatures on the left, joining the dots as you go.

Keep in mind that you will probably get some odd readings - either high or low temperatures - that don't fit into the larger pattern. If they don't happen often, don't worry about them.

You may want to have your GP look at your chart to help you interpret it.

Although BBT charting is a widely used technique, it is by no means foolproof. Some women may not see a clear pattern emerge by recording their temperature. Since ovulation can occur at different times in your cycle from one month to the next, your BBT chart may not be effective at predicting when you'll ovulate.


Cervical mucus


Although it may take some detective work - and may be a little off-putting to some - learning to detect changes in your cervical mucus is an easy and useful of way of predicting ovulation. According to one study, it's a more accurate way of predicting ovulation than BBT, although it can be used in conjunction with it.


The mucus released by the cervix serves different purposes. When you're not ovulating or approaching ovulation, cervical mucus prevents sperm from getting into the uterus at a time when you couldn't become pregnant anyway. As you near ovulation, your cervix secretes an increasing amount of mucus, and when you're at your most fertile, your cervical mucus is stretchy and clear, like the consistency of egg white. At this point, the mucus actually protects the sperm and helps it in its journey toward the egg.


For a woman with a 28-day cycle, the pattern of changes in her cervical mucus would look something like this:

Days 1-5: Menstruation occurs.

Days 6-9: Vagina is dry with little to no mucus.

Days 10-12: Sticky, thick mucus appears, gradually becoming less thick and more white.

Days 13-15: Mucus becomes thin, slippery, stretchy and clear, similar to the consistency of egg whites. This is the most fertile stage.

Days 16-21: Mucus becomes sticky and thick again.

Days 22-28: Vagina becomes dry.


However, your cycle will probably differ from this pattern, perhaps significantly, which is why it's useful to mark changes on your own fertility chart.


Ideally, you should check your cervical mucus daily, possibly every time you go to the bathroom. If you rub some toilet paper or your fingers - after washing your hands - over the opening of your vagina , you should be able to detect cervical mucus. Examine the colour and consistency between your fingers and make sure to note it down, after washing your hands.


Cervical position


Another way of learning about where you are in your cycle is to examine the position of your cervix. If you insert two fingers into your vagina, you should feel the cervix at the end. Before ovulation, it should feel hard and dry, like the tip of a nose. During ovulation, you should notice that it seems to have shifted higher and that it feels softer and wetter. You should always make sure that your hands are clean before you do this. Since it may be hard to tell exactly what you're looking for, you may want to talk to your GP  first.


Tests and devices to predict ovulation


Home tests and devices offer a different approach to monitoring your fertility cycle. Some people use these alongside traditional techniques while others use them as a substitute.


Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) are available from pharmacies. By testing the levels of luteinising hormone (LH) in your urine, the kits can tell you when you're undergoing the surge in LH levels that precedes ovulation by 12 to 36 hours. Some studies have found these kits to be more than 90% accurate. The newest OPKs are digital. While a little more expensive, the advantage is that the display is easier to read. Instead of having to interpret those sometimes ambiguous pink lines, you get a clear symbol on the readout, like a smiley face.


Saliva or “ferning” microscopes use a different approach. These are small microscopes - sometimes designed to look like lipstick cases - for examining a sample of your saliva. As oestrogen levels build up as you head toward ovulation, salt levels in your mucus increase, too. When the mucus is looked at under a microscope, the salt  causes a pattern that looks like the leaves of a fern plant - hence “ferning.” Manufacturers claim that by using the microscopes to examine your saliva - and learning what to look for - you can predict ovulation by 24-72 hours. Unlike many other ovulation tests, they don’t require additional expensive supplies. However, studies have not found them to be all that reliable. They don’t seem to work for everyone, and the results can be hard to interpret.


Fertility monitors. While most ovulation predictors only give you a fertile window of up to two days, these can predict up to six or seven days of potential fertility for each cycle. They work in different ways. Some measure the levels of LH as well as another hormone, oestrogen, in the urine. This type of device requires supplies of test strips.


While these tests and devices may be helpful, keep in mind they aren’t perfect. If you have a medical condition like polycystic ovary syndrome or take regular medications, these tests and devices may not give accurate results. Since there are so many ovulation tests and monitors out there, which vary in cost and the way they work, it’s always a good idea to ask your GP or pharmacist for a recommendation.


Source: WebMD

Fertility