A. This is where it gets tricky, let's talk in terms of generalities for a moment. We generally say that the average menstrual cycle is 28 days long. This means that a woman starts her period on day one of her cycle. The average woman will ovulate 14 days backwards from the start of her period. So a woman with a 28 day cycle would tend to ovulate on day 14. The woman with a 32 day cycle would tend to ovulate on day 18. The woman with a 26 day cycle would ovulate on day 12 of the cycle. This can vary widely, which is why methods to determine exactly when you ovulate are important. You need to maximize the chance of your fertile window being successful, the window being the 24 hours the egg lives.
Q. How do you know exactly when you ovulate?
A. There are a few methods available: Basal Body Temperature (BBT), Mucus, Sympto-Thermal (Combination), and Device.
Q. Which method is best?
A. There really isn't a great answer to that. The use of your body to help predict ovulation can greatly enhance any woman's ability to get pregnant. By using the simple signs like temperature and mucus changes to do this, it's simple, efficient, and cost-effective. Using the ovulation prediction kits can be very expensive and not as accurate for some women. However, I think it's important to note that prior to receiving any counseling for infertility a practitioner will usually require at least a month or two worth of temperatures and symptoms. So if you're just starting out in the game of achieving a pregnancy, or you're starting to wonder if you can get pregnant, this might be a good place to start for you.
Q. When is the best time to get pregnant?
A. While the egg is only viable for about 24 hours, sperm can live in the reproductive tract of the woman for 72+ hours. This means that you can get pregnant in a much larger window than thought. Intercourse prior to ovulation can and often does result in pregnancy, as can intercourse at the point of ovulation.
Q. Can more than one egg ever be released?
A. Yes. More than one can be released. When this happens it is common for both eggs to be fertilized, thus resulting in fraternal twins. Many common medications for ovulatory disorders can cause the ovaries to be hyperstimulated, and therefore release more eggs than normal. This is, obviously, not always the case.
Check out the side bar resources for places to learn more about charting ovulation, potential disorders of ovulation and just general information about both getting pregnant and avoiding pregnancy based on ovulation. Also feel free to join us in the Preparing for Pregnancy Forum. Knowing your body is always a great way to start!