If you want to get pregnant, you need to understand your fertility. If you’re not trying to conceive when your fertility is at its peak then you’re making life harder for yourself than it needs to be, so today we’re looking at how you can identify peak fertility, and take advantage of it, to give yourself the best chance of conceiving when you want to.
There are two ways to look at the idea of peak fertility: there’s the way your fertility waxes and wanes over the course of your life, and how it changes over the weeks of your menstrual cycle. A woman’s lifetime fertility peaks between the ages of 20 and 24 on average, but few women are looking to start a family in this time. If you’re interested in pursuing an education, or establishing a career, taking time off for children isn’t possible. It’s only very few people who earn enough to support an entire household on a single wage, so you’ll need to make sure your career is well off the starting blocks before looking to have children.
It’s hard to coordinate your body’s lifetime peak fertility with your family plans, but you can still work with your cycle to find the time in each month when you’ll find conceiving the easiest. If you’re having trouble conceiving, then tracking your fertility to identify when it peaks in each cycle (your ‘fertile window’ when the lifespan of sperm overlaps with the egg released from the ovaries) could be the key that unlocks the next stage of your journey toward starting a family.
The key event that lets you pin down your fertile window is ovulation, when your ovaries release an egg into the fallopian tubes, where it can be inseminated by sperm. The days surrounding this part of your cycle are when you’re at the peak of your fertility, and when sex stands the best chance of causing pregnancy. There are several different ways to identify when ovulate. Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) measure the hormones in your urine, looking for the surge in Luteinising Hormone that tells your ovaries to release an egg. They’re convenient but not useful for everyone: if you have any kind of health issue that affects your hormones, it reduces the effectiveness of the result an OPK gets you.
Basal Body Temperature is a less convenient way to identify ovulation but the results it gets are more accurate! The bets modern fertility monitors include specialised thermometers and onboard or cloud computing to turn core temperature readings into a prediction of when your fertile window will fall without the traditional hard work of charting that data yourself.