Calculating Your Fertile Window: How Long Does Ovulation Last?
If you are trying to get pregnant, you must know your fertile window. Having intercourse during your fertile window can dramatically increase your chances of getting pregnant.
You might be aware that the best time to have intercourse if you are trying to conceive is right around the time you ovulate. It’s time you are the most fertile during your menstrual cycle. So, if you know how long the ovulation lasts, you could use this information to calculate your fertile window and give yourself the best chance to get pregnant.
Well, in this post, we are going to learn just that. We will know how you can predict your fertile window and then plan sexual intercourse to give your body the best chance of getting pregnant.
How long does ovulation last?
Ovulation is the process by which one mature egg is released from the ovary during your menstrual cycle. Multiple events precede ovulation, and the actual process of ovulation lasts around 24 to 36 hours. The eggs develop inside tiny structures in your ovaries called the follicles. During the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle, the pituitary gland releases a hormone called the Follicle Stimulating Hormone or FSH that causes these follicles to start to grow and develop. As the follicles grow, they start releasing yet another female fertility hormone called estrogen.
As the estrogen builds up in your body, it reaches a threshold level that stimulates the pituitary gland to release a hormone called Luteinizing hormone or LH. There is a sudden increase in Luteinizing hormone level in the blood (also called LH surge) that stimulates the follicles to burst open and release the egg.
Once the egg is released, it has about 24 hours to get fertilised with sperm. If the fertilisation does not happen during this period, the egg disintegrates and is thrown outside the body and the upcoming menses. On the other hand, if the egg is fertilised, then you become pregnant.
Understanding your ovarian cycle & fertile window
Your fertile window includes the five days preceding your ovulation and the day of ovulation itself. So, if you know when you are ovulating, it can be easy to calculate the fertile window. You can check your ovulation status by Fertility2Family’s ovulation predictor kit. It is a simple and easy-to-use kit that can detect the LH surge in your body and help you predict when you are ovulating.
As mentioned before, the egg, once released, is active and viable for only about 24 hours. But that does not mean that your fertile window is just 24 hours long. The fertile window is much longer than that. The sperm can survive in the female genital tract for up to five days. Hence, having intercourse during the five days preceding ovulation also has a good chance of successfully ending in pregnancy.
One of the methods to track your ovulation and hence predict fertile window is called the calendar method. In this method, you follow our menstrual cycle for six cycles (six months). The first day of the fertile window is calculated by subtracting 18 from the shortest menstrual cycle that you have on record during this period. Similarly, the last day in your fertile window is calculated by subtracting 11 from the longest cycle on record during these six months.
Although it sounds pretty easy to track your menstrual cycle by the calendar method, the results from this method are not entirely reliable. The method assumes that ovulation is caused right in the middle of the cycle, which is not always the case. In some women, ovulation can happen between day 6 to day 21 of their cycles. Furthermore, not every menstrual cycle is the same for any woman; there can be changes leading to miscalculations.
One of the best methods to track your ovulation and predict your fertile window is to keep an eye on your fertility hormones, especially the Luteinizing hormone. There is a Luteinizing hormone surge 24-36 hours before ovulation, and the peak concentrations are found at 10-12 hours before ovulation. Estrogen levels also increase in the three to five days leading to ovulation.
As ovulation results from the changes in the levels of these hormones, their levels are a better measure to understand when you are ovulating. You are the most fertile when your estrogen begins to rise, and your peak fertility is when the Luteinizing hormone reaches its peak.
Fertility2Family’s ovulation predictor kits can detect the increased Luteinizing hormone levels and help you predict your ovulation. Your chance of conceiving is at its peak the day right before ovulation. Here is a run-down of your chances of getting pregnant during your six-day fertile window.
- Day 5 before ovulation: 0.4-7%
- Day 4 before ovulation: 8-17%
- Day 3 before ovulation: 8-23%
- Day 2 before ovulation: 13-29%
- The day before ovulation: 21-34%
- The day of ovulation: 8-33%
- Day 1 after ovulation: 0.8-11%
Signs of ovulation & your fertile window
Many subtle changes occur in your body during the time of ovulation. Noticing these changes can help you predict your ovulation date and hence your fertile window.
Changes in cervical mucus
The nature, colour, and consistency of your cervical mucus can tell you a lot about your menstrual cycle. Before ovulation, the cervical mucus is generally thick, creamy, and is white or off-white throughout the early phases of your menstrual cycle. When you are ovulating, there is a shift in the consistency and appearance of cervical mucus; it becomes clear and slippery and attains the thickness of an uncooked egg-white. Observing your cervical mucus and tracking it for its consistency, appearance, and texture can help you predict your ovulation.
Changes in Basal Body Temperature
Your basal body temperatures show a small fall just before your ovaries release an egg. Once the egg is released, the basal body temperature increases and stays up throughout the remainder of your menstrual cycle. Before you ovulate, your basal body temperature hovers between 36.1°C and 36.4°C. After about 24 hours post-ovulation, it rises to between 36.4°C and 37°C. Recording your basal body temperature with Fertility2family’s basal body thermometer is a great way to chart your basal body temperature and predict your fertile window.
Changes in the position of the cervix
When you ovulate, there is a change in the position of your cervix. The cervix goes higher and becomes softer during ovulation compared to the rest of the cycle. The opening of the cervix also widens during the ovulation to receive the sperm. If you are comfortable with examining your cervix, you can use your fingers to check the status of your cervix and chart it over your entire menstrual cycle.
Signs that ovulation & fertile window is over
Your fertility returns to normal after ovulation, and you are less likely to conceive. It’s essential to consider both the signs you are about to ovulate and the signs that ovulation has ended if you are trying to time sex with your fertile window to get pregnant.
Changes in cervical mucus
Your cervical mucus becomes a slippery, egg-white consistency during ovulation. Your cervical mucus will revert to its natural texture after ovulation: a dense, creamy, white, or off-white discharge.
Changes in the Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
Your basal body temperature can rise by less than 0.5 degrees when you ovulate. When the marginally higher temperature stays constant for three days or more, ovulation has most likely happened. Through the second half of the menstrual cycle, the basal body temperature remains elevated. Using a basal thermometer to take your temperature each morning before getting out of bed and charting it will send you further hints that your fertile window has passed.
Changes in the position of the cervix
During ovulation, the cervix is high, soft to touch, and you can feel an opening in it, allowing sperm to enter and help you become pregnant. The cervix will return to its original location after ovulation: low, hard to touch, and closed. The cervix can feel like the tip of your nose when you touch it at this period. Decide whether your fertile window has closed by softly feeling for shifts in your cervix, and record it for future references.
What is a Fertile Window?
The six most fertile days of the menstrual cycle are referred to as your fertile window. Those are the only days when you are going to get pregnant as a result of sexual activity. Outside of the fertile window, the odds of conceiving aren’t zero, but they are slim. You won’t want to waste your fertile time if you want to get pregnant!
The fertile window refers to the days leading up to ovulation and the days after ovulation. It usually refers to the four to five days leading up to ovulation, as well as the 24 hours after ovulation. The egg is expelled from the ovary and flows down the fallopian tube during ovulation. The egg can be fertilised if sperm travels into the fallopian tube and you become pregnant.
Your eggs are only good for a few hours, 12-24 hours, to be precise. As a result, sperm must come into contact with the egg before the egg becomes inactive. That is why, after ovulation, there usually is only one fertile day. The good news is that sperm will survive in a woman’s cervical mucus for up to five days if the mucus is of high quality. This is why the fertile window covers all the days leading up to and after ovulation.
Calculating Your Fertile Window: When Are You Most Fertile?
On any day of the fertile window, you are not equally likely to conceive. The days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation are the most fertile for you. Your highest fertility period lasts two days.
On these two days, the Luteinizing hormone also spikes. This hormone spike can be measured using Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs) from Fertility2Family. Because menstrual cycles differ from month to month and from woman to woman, an OPK may sometimes produce a false-positive or false-negative test. False positives are extremely rare as ovulation tests are designed to detect the Luteinizing hormone in your urine and only produce a second test line if you have LH. on the other hand, negative ovulation tests are far more common multi different reasons. We have discussed this in detail in our 5 Potential Causes for Negative Ovulation Test.
If you find a significant difference in your cycles, you can see a fertility doctor since erratic cycles may signify reproductive problems.
The calendar method
The calendar system involves counting backward from your shortest and longest time to determine your fertile window. The calendar system, except for women who have daily periods, might not be reliable. It’s possible that our cycles won’t all be the same duration, and we won’t all ovulate 14 days until our next time. It’s no wonder, then, that obtaining a reliable forecast using the calendar system usually requires six months or more of continuous logging.
Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
After ovulation, the Basal Body thermometer shows a 0.50c temperature rise. Measuring Basal Body Temperature is convenient and easy using Fertiliity2family’s Basal Body thermometer.
Throughout the menstrual period, the colour and consistency of the cervical mucus shift. It becomes clear and stretchy around the time of ovulation, resembling an egg white. Keeping track of your cervical mucus is a perfect way to become more aware of your body. It is non-invasive and easy to do once you get the hang of it. However, since everyone’s cervical mucus is different, it may take three to six months of tracking to thoroughly appreciate the specific changes in your cervical mucus that indicate ovulation.