Most women under age 50 have regular periods, but they may not clearly understand their menstrual cycles and the effect on their fertility. The timing of a woman’s period directly influences when she is mostly likely to become pregnant, and being aware of her cycle can help a woman predict her fertility.
A normal menstrual cycle is usually 26 to 32 days long, and the first day of menstrual flow is considered the first day of the cycle. A woman’s ovaries release an egg to be fertilized, which is called ovulation, around cycle day 14. As a result, a woman has the best chance of getting pregnant between days 12 and 16 of her cycle.
Though some women may not know if they’ve ovulated, many do experience a watery vaginal discharge around the time of ovulation. Also, abdominal bloating and breast tenderness may occur after ovulation. A woman with a regular menstrual cycle can look for these signs as indications that an egg has been released.
An ovulation detection kit, available at most drugstores, can be helpful in predicting the approximate date of ovulation for women wanting to conceive. A woman tests her urine between cycle days 11 and 16. The test will look for LH, or luteinizing hormone, which increases just before ovulation. If the test is positive for LH, she can expect an egg to be released in the next 12 to 36 hours. To maximize the chances of getting pregnant, a woman and her partner should have intercourse the next two days in a row after a positive ovulation test.
Dr. Michael Urig is chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor, or call Urig’s Ahwatukee Foothills office at (480) 759-9191.