Many girls and women find it frustrating to try to pinpoint when their period will come, when they’re ovulating, or when the best time is to get pregnant (or NOT get pregnant). Most women follow a regular cycle, which means it’s typically easy to pinpoint and track those fertile times of the month. While there’s no tried-and-true answer to which are your most fertile days after your period ends every month, there are good ways to figure it out.
More About the Menstrual Cycle
Your menstrual cycle technically begins on the first day of your period. Most women have a 28-day cycle, but not all. Some women have a 21-day cycle. It’s a good idea to track your periods for a few months to try to discern what type of cycle you have. If it changes month-to-month, then you have what is known as an irregular cycle, which makes fertility harder to pinpoint.
Ovulation times vary from woman to woman, but it is typically around 14 days before the first day of menstruation. If the egg is not fertilized, then she menstruates anywhere from 7 to 14 days immediately following ovulation. If the egg is fertilized, this marks the very beginning of pregnancy.
In a regular, 28-day cycle, a woman is most likely to ovulate around day 14 (about two weeks from the first day of menstruation). However, women who have regular 21-day cycles may potentially become pregnant immediately after their periods. It’s essential to always use birth control, even when menstruating, to prevent pregnancy. If you are trying to conceive, then tracking ovulation is critical to reaching that goal. Of course, having intercourse often is the best way to conceive, but many women would like to pinpoint the specific days of the month in order to increase their chances.
There are six days each month when you are the most fertile. These include the five days that lead up to ovulation, as well as the day of ovulation for a total of six. Once the egg is released, there is only a 24-hour window in which you can become pregnant. However, sperm can live in the vagina between three and five days.
Unfortunately, even the most clockwork of cycles can suddenly skip a month (as in, when you’re stressed), or you may not ovulate for various other reasons, including those who are entering perimenopause and those who are breastfeeding. Certain types of birth control, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs), can also affect ovulation and periods, as can low body weight and hormonal imbalances caused by PCOS and other illnesses.
Because of changes in cycles, if you’re trying to conceive, an over-the-counter ovulation predictor can help you figure out exactly when you should engage in intercourse.
Because sperm can live inside of the vagina and fallopian tubes for up to five days, it’s important to use protection or birth control at all times, even while menstruating. Because the menstrual cycle can be so unpredictable, it’s possible to become pregnant while having your period, if your ovulation cycle is rapid, or you had intercourse near the end of your period. This is especially true for women with 21-day cycles. For those who are trying to conceive, intercourse during menstruation is unlikely, but possible.
Habits for a Healthy Conception
There are a few ways to increase conception chances, other than using an ovulation predictor and having frequent intercourse. In fact, it’s advised that you only have intercourse every other day during the window of fertility each month. This is because studies show there is no difference between pregnancy rates for couples who had sex every day, or every other day. Shooting for every other day is more natural and relaxed for most couples.
Practicing healthier, pregnancy-like habits from the get-go will also increase the chances of a healthy conception, gestation, and child. Quit smoking. Completely quit or curtail drinking alcohol. Try to get your body mass index (BMI) at a normal weight. Start taking a prenatal vitamin. Do keep in mind that fertility decreases with age, especially after age 35, however many women get pregnant well into their early 40s (and occasionally beyond).
Increasing Conception Chances
In addition to frequent intercourse, some practices can help you increase conception chances. First of all, relax. A woman who is stressed or worried may have an irregular cycle, which can throw off ovulation and fertility. Also, after having intercourse, stay in bed for at least 15 minutes after to increase the chances of fertilizing the egg. Also, before you begin trying to conceive, have a preconception checkup and physical to make sure you are in a high state of health.
If You Cannot Conceive
If you have been using ovulation predictors, tracking fertility, and practicing healthier habits and are still not conceiving, it may be time to speak to your OB/GYN or healthcare provider. Both women and men who are trying to conceive should have an infertility evaluation to check for potential problems. If a partner is infertile, there are many modern-day treatments to help.