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Ovulation calendar: What is it and how it can help you in building your family
Whether you are trying to conceive or trying to plan your family, you must have come across the concept of an ovulation calendar – a guide on learning what day you are most fertile, or most likely to get pregnant. The calendar also shows you your menstrual process, which can help you and your husband plan accordingly, and properly decide contact days for either purposes: for a best shot at pregnancy or for family planning.
What is an ovulation calendar?
Us women need to understand and get familiar with our ovulation, especially if we are trying to conceive or trying to avoid getting pregnant. According to Mayo Clinic in a normal 28-day menstrual period, ovulation happens 14 days before the start of the period. Ovulation happens when the ovary releases a mature egg and it moves down to the fallopian tube where it is supposed to stay for 12 to 24 hours, waiting to be fertilized by the sperm.
To find out when you are going to ovulate, you have to count back 14 days from the start of the date of your expected next period. Your fertile window can happen a few days before ovulation and one day after.
The US’ Office on Women Health meanwhile notes that the story differs for every woman.
“The typical menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but each woman is different. There are about 6 days during each menstrual cycle when you can get pregnant. This is called your fertile window,” it said.
You also have to constantly monitor your cycles so you can more accurately predict your fertile days.
Some signs you are ovulating
According to the World Health Organization, the higher estrogen level around the time of ovulation causes the cervix to become soft, higher in the vagina, and wet, and to open up, allowing sperm to move faster and survive to reach the fallopian tube and fertilize an egg.
Other common ovulation symptoms, according to Cleveland Clinic, are: breast tenderness, mild bleeding or spotting, increased drive to have sex, changes in senses of smell, taste, or sight, moodiness, changes in appetite.
How to use an ovulation calculator to determine your fertile window?
An ovulation calendar can give you an estimate of when you are going to ovulate based on your last day of menstruation and the number of days between your menstrual period.
There are many available versions of an ovulation calendar -- some can even be found online and some apps can be downloaded on your mobile phones. Examples of such are My Calendar, Period Calendar Period Tracker, and Femometer Fertility Tracker.
You may also consider using a urine test to help you keep track of your ovulation.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration a urine test is a home-use test kit that is used to measure Luteinizing Hormone (LH) in the urine and the estrone-3-glucuronide (E3G) hormone. Elevated levels of LH or E3G means you have increased chances of conceiving.
Several products are also available to help you with your ovulation, such as an ovulation support supplement for better health of your reproductive cells, and an ovulation assist that can help you to have a normal and healthy ovulation.
There are also other products to help you track your ovulation symptoms like the ovulation predictor kits (OPKs), which can be found at drugstores; fertility monitors that are 89% to 99% accurate in identifying the fertile window, and the progesterone ovulation tests that determine the progesterone metabolite levels to find out whether you have ovulated.
How do you use the ovulation calendar method?
Some couples prefer a more natural way of family planning and they use the rhythm method, which is more commonly known as the calendar method.
The WHO said under this method, the couple “prevents pregnancy by avoiding unprotected vaginal sex during the 1st and last estimated fertile days, by abstaining or using a condom.” However recent studies claim this method alone does not guarantee reliable effectiveness for those who are trying not to get pregnant.
According to Mayo Clinic, the “rhythm method as a form of birth control doesn't pose any direct risks. However, it's considered one of the least effective forms of birth control."
Mayo Clinic also enumerated the different steps in using the ovulation calendar method:
1. Count the number of days in every period, starting from the first day of the period up to the first day of the succeeding period.
2. Find out the length of your shortest cycle by subtracting 18 from the number of days on your shortest period. The result indicates the first fertile day of your cycle.
3. You also have to find out the length of your longest menstrual cycle by subtracting 11 from the number of days in your longest cycle. The result means it is the last fertile day of your cycle.
4. For those who are trying to conceive, having regular sex during fertile days is advised. On the contrary, having unprotected sex is discouraged during those days.
5. Record the length of menstrual cycles regularly for proper monitoring of your fertile days.
For women whose menstrual cycles have a duration of 26 to 32 days, the Standard Days method can also be used. Mayo Clinic also listed the steps on how to use this more modern approach to the calendar rhythm method.
1. Make a record of the number of days in every menstrual cycle beginning from the first day of your period to the first day of the following period.
2. Days one to seven are not your fertile days so you can have unprotected sex.
3. Days eight to nine are the fertile days and these are the best days to have unprotected sex for those trying to have a baby.
4. You are no longer fertile on the 20th day until the end of your cycle.
5. Once you start again with your next period, you can start counting again on day one.
How to do the ovulation calendar method for women with an irregular period?
Not all women are created equal, and it is common for other women to have irregular periods, which makes it even more challenging for them to track their ovulation. However, the good news is that, with the help of ovulation predictor kits and fertility monitors, they can also track their ovulation despite having irregular periods.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, an ovulation predictor kit detects the increase of the Luteinizing Hormone (LH) to let you know that you are ovulating. Before your ovulation, the Luteinizing Hormone increases in presence 24 to 48 hours before ovulation. The ovulation predictor kit will detect this increase to confirm if you are ovulating, and that's the time you mark the dates on your calendar.
A trip to your trusted OB-Gyne will also help you determine other possible causes for your irregular period such as PCOS, which may also lessen your chances of getting pregnant.