Ovulation is when one or more eggs are released from a woman’s ovaries. This usually takes place 10 – 16 days before the start of your next period and is the most fertile time of your menstrual cycle. If you are hoping to get pregnant this is the best time to conceive. The average monthly cycle lasts around 28 days however this can vary so ovulation can occur earlier or later.
The Best Time to Conceive
If you are hoping to become pregnant the most fertile time will be around ovulation so the best time to try and conceive will be 2 – 3 days before ovulation occurs and up to 24 hours after.
During ovulation you may notice slight changes to your body.
Signs of Ovulation
Changes in cervical mucus
Cervical mucus will change throughout your cycle and will help indicate your level of fertility. This will change from being minimal at the beginning and end of your period to increasing during ovulation allowing you to gauge when the best time is for trying to conceive.
Increase in body temperature
One of the many changes that take place during your menstrual cycle is an increase in body temperature at the beginning of ovulation. This increase is quite low, around 0.4 degrees Celsius, so you may not notice it unless you are recording your temperature regularly. Although your temperature may rise after you have ovulated, recording it may help you predict when you will ovulate in future cycles, hence helping you to realise your most fertile time of the month.
Mittleschmitz (Lower abdominal pain)
During ovulation you may experience cramps in the lower abdomen or on one side of your back which can last from a few minutes to a few hours, helping to indicate that you are ovulating and at your most fertile.
Increase in LH
Although there are other signs of ovulation, the most important is an increase in the amount of luteinising hormone (LH) in the body. This “LH surge” is responsible for the release of an egg by the ovaries and usually takes place in the middle of the menstrual cycle. It is important however to realise that an LH surge and ovulation may not occur in all cycles.
Carrying out an ovulation test will identify when ovulation is about to occur, allowing you to realise when you are most likely to conceive.
Preparing for Pregnancy
If you are trying for a baby it is important to look after yourself to help increase the chances of becoming pregnant and enjoying a healthy pregnancy. Here are some tips to help you along.
- Reduce your intake of alcohol or cut it out completely. Alcohol can cause damage to the foetus, especially during the first trimester as this is the most important time of the baby’s development so it is best to limit this when you are trying to conceive.
- Eat a well balanced diet and ensure you are getting enough folic acid in your diet. You can achieve this through eating foods rich in the vitamin or by taking a daily 400mg supplement. Folic acid will help you to have a healthy pregnancy and has been proven to reduce the risk of having a baby with Down’s syndrome. It is best taken from the time you decide to try for a baby to ensure you have enough of the vitamin in your body at the time you conceive.
- Cut out smoking if you want to conceive. Research has shown that smoking can reduce the chance of conceiving and applies to both partners. It is also a good way to prepare for when you are pregnant as smoking then can cause the baby to have a low birth weight, respiratory problems and can even increase the risk of infant mortality.