We all know that scheduling sex is not always fun, especially when TTC. Increasing the frequency of baby making after your period is a relaxed way to ensure you are having sex throughout your fertile window. The NHS advice is to have sex at least every 2 to 3 days to give you the best chance of getting pregnant. However, if this is not possible, twice a week is adequate.
Many couples will be having sex less often than recommended; this could be due to work commitments, travel or simply choice. In these instances, it can be really useful to predict your fertile window and ovulation dates, so that if you do have sex less frequently, you can make sure you are doing it at the right time. There are several things that you can do at home to help to identify when you may be ovulating: Looking for signs of ovulation
- Observe your natural fertility indicators
- Use an app or website to calculate ovulation
- Use ovulation predicator or fertility kit
Observe your natural fertility indicators
Monitoring your fertility indicators is a natural and inexpensive way to get in tune with your body when TTC. The key fertility indicators that women frequently use to predict their ovulation include:
Cervical mucus: The probability of conception is highest when your cervical mucus can be described as slippery, clear and of egg white consistency. You may also notice an increase in the volume of cervical mucus at the same time.
Basal body temperature (BBT): BBT is your lowest body temperature in a 24-hour period. It is important to take your temperature as soon as you wake up before you do anything, even getting out of bed. You should expect a rise in your BBT of around half a degree when ovulation occurs. A limitation to this method is that you may only realise that you have ovulated after it has happened, and your fertile window could be over until your next cycle. BBT should not be relied upon alone to predict ovulation. However, if used in conjunction with other methods such as observing your cervical mucus, it can be more effective at determining when you are fertile.
Use an app or website to calculate ovulation
A number of websites and mobile phone apps are now available that offer predictions of ovulation dates and your fertile window. Most of these are based on the calendar method and work by asking the user to enter the date of their last menstruation and their average cycle length (the number of days from the first day of your period to the day before your next period). However, these tools are not accurate for everyone because many are based on the assumption that all women have a 28-day cycle and ovulate on day 14, which is often not the case, especially if you have irregular cycles.
These tools can be useful though to keep a record of your cycle dates and give you a rough guide of when you are fertile to use in combination with observing your natural fertility indicators. It is essential with all ovulation calculators and apps that you understand how to use them fully and their limitations before relying too heavily on them.
Use ovulation predictor kits or fertility monitors
Ovulation tests also known as Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs)
Your luteinizing hormone (LH) levels can be used as another fertility indicator. A surge in LH triggers ovulation and can be detected in a woman’s urine 12 to 24 hours before ovulation, helping to identify the 2 most fertile days of your cycle. Some of the newer ovulation tests can detect both oestrogen and LH and help to identify around 4 fertile days each cycle. Ovulation tests are not suitable for everyone. Some women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may have high levels of LH even when they are not ovulating which can lead to misleading results. Other women may have a naturally low baseline level of LH that won’t be detected by a traditional ovulation test even during their LH surge, leading to false negative results. Some women find that using an OPK can add stress to their fertility journey. Having sex every 2-3 days after your period is a relaxed way to ensure that you are having sex during your fertile window.
A fertility monitor is an electronic device that helps you to track your cycle and learn more about your body and when you are fertile. Many fertility monitors are linked to an app that will visually display your data, which can be very helpful. Fertility monitors track various fertility indicators such as hormone levels in your urine and body temperature. In general, they offer you more than a traditional ovulation test, including prediction of more fertile days (some can predict your entire fertile window), storage of personal information such as cycle length, sexual intercourse dates and allow you to share your data with your doctor or partner. At the moment, most fertility monitors are designed for women but watch this space as technology solutions are currently being developed for men too!
Unfortunately, not all fertility monitors are suitable for women with irregular cycles or PCOS, so if this applies to you, please check first before buying one.
Avoid storing sperm
Many men believe that if they don’t ejaculate for a long period of time, then when they do ejaculate the next time, they will produce lots of super swimmers, but this is actually a myth. When the sperm exit the sperm production factory, they are then stored until the point of ejaculation. The optimum time of storage is usually just two or three days, which means you ideally want to be ejaculating sperm within two or three days of them leaving the production line, meaning more fun time for you too.
If you want to learn more about becoming #cyclesavvy, watch our educational video series with Fertility Nurse Consultant Kate Davies.
1. NHS Choices. Getting pregnant. NHS Choices. [Online content accessed 01.12.20] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/getting-pregnant/
2. NHS. Infertility Diagnosis. [Online content accessed 01.12.20] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/infertility/diagnosis
3. Yeh PT, Kennedy CE, Van der Poel S, Matsaseng T, Bernard L, Narasimhan M. Should home-based ovulation predictor kits be offered as an additional approach for fertility management for women and couples desiring pregnancy? A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Glob Health. 2019 Apr 25;4(2):e001403. doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2019-001403. PMID: 31139458; PMCID: PMC6509595. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31139458/
4. NHS. How can I tell when i'm ovulating. [Online content accessed 01.12.20] https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/womens-health/how-can-i-tell-when-i-am-ovulating
5. Steward K, Raja A. Physiology, Ovulation And Basal Body Temperature. [Updated 2020 Jul 27]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546686/
6. NICE Guidance 2013 Fertility problems: assessment and treatment. www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg156
7. NHS. How can I tell when i'm ovulating. [Online content accessed 01.12.20] https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/womens-health/how-can-i-tell-when-i-am-ovulating
8. NHS. Polycystic ovary syndrome, causes. [Online content accessed 01.12.20] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/causes/
Last updated 29/01/2021 Next review due 29/01/2024