What you should know about the cycle and fertility

It may well become important for you to know your fertile days. Like when you had unprotected sex. But especially if you have just stopped taking the pill and want to get pregnant.

Many women in this situation observe their body very carefully in the middle of the cycle. Some of them even think they can feel your ovulation. But unfortunately they are rarely right, says Professor Henry Alexander, specialist for gynaecology and obstetrics in Leipzig. Here you will learn how to correctly assess your fertile days.

What is ovulation?

Ovulation, also known as ovulation or follicle leap, is a central point in the menstrual cycle’. The follicle, which has matured in the ovary in the first half of the cycle, opens and releases an egg that is ready for fertilisation. From one of the two ovaries, the egg then travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus. This “ovulation phase” usually lasts 3 to 4 days and takes place around the middle of the cycle, i.e. about 14 days after the first day of the period.

Why is ovulation important for pregnancy?

Whether or not a female egg is fertilised is decided during the follicular stage in women who are not using contraception. In this time window women have their “fertile days”. This is because if sperm reach the fallopian tube during ovulation, they can fertilise the mature egg and make a pregnancy possible.

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Does ovulation always come at the same time?

The fact that ovulation occurs after 14 days, because women have their period every 28 days, is only true in some cases. “70% of women ovulate after the 15th or before the 13th day of the cycle. In 5 percent of women, the time of ovulation was even after the 27th day”, says Professor Henry Alexander.

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It is not true that women who do a lot of sports do not ovulate. © Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com

Do factors such as obesity or competitive sports disturb fertility?

It depends. In general, Alexander gives the all-clear: “Much and extreme sport as well as extreme overweight do not necessarily increase fertility, but ovulation usually occurs anyway. But then the question arises: What is a lot of sport and what is too much? US -researchers say that it can have an effect on fertility if you exercise daily or exercise regularly until you are totally exhausted. More about this here:

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However, too much stress is also a problem in other respects: “It is true that too much stress is not good for conception,” says the physician.

What does body temperature say about ovulation?

Some, if measured correctly. The problem: Your body is constantly subject to temperature fluctuations. During sleep, the temperature drops to a relative minimum, the so-called basal body temperature. Many women take their basal body temperature at the same time every morning in order to read off the hormonal processes in their body and to find out which is the best time for family planning.

“However, one measurement point a day is far too few, and it also requires an extreme amount of discipline to actually catch the same time every morning,” says the expert from Leipzig.

Is there no ovulation in a prolonged cycle?

That’s much too soon to tell. There are women who only have their period three or four times a year. If they want to have a child, they often get hormones to produce a “normal” cycle of about 28 days. This does not necessarily improve their chances of getting pregnant, on the contrary: ovulation is then often cured away. “Without hormones, a woman can also become pregnant on the 28th or 36th day of the cycle.

All this has already happened in the first place, and secondly it is normal”, says Professor Alexander.

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Can I determine the fertile days with urine strips?

Yes and no. A urine strip can be used to measure the concentration of luteinising hormone, or LH in the urine. This is an indicator for ovulation. “Often, however, the women who determine their hormone levels with these strips are wrong,” Professor Alexander knows. In clinical studies, the highest LH -concentration on average more than 24 hours after ovulation. And not, as expected, before.

Many women think they can feel their ovulation. Not very likely… © Maksym Azovtsev / Shutterstock.com

Can I feel when I am ovulating?

Even if many women claim this, it is not tenable. “Clinical studies have shown that about 85 percent of the women who gave a self-perceived date for ovulation were wrong,” says Professor Alexander.

Is sex on the day of ovulation the safest way to get pregnant?

That sounds clever, but it’s no better than other days. “The probability of getting pregnant is surprisingly low. Even if a woman has sex every day, the probability of getting pregnant is only 37 percent,” says the physician. If you have sex once a week, as is often the case with long-term couples, the chance is only 15 percent. It often takes 12 cycles before the longed-for offspring appears. Here, too, the rule applies: exceptions confirm the rule.

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Is pregnancy impossible with sex before ovulation?

Absolutely not. “Sperm survive up to five days in a woman’s body. This means that she can also become pregnant even though the last night of love took place four or five days before ovulation,” says Professor Alexander. After ovulation, the egg remains in place for about 24 hours. For the rest of the cycle it is then no longer likely to become pregnant.

It is important for every woman to know about her ovulation and her fertile days. If you still do not get pregnant immediately, it is not your fault, it is quite natural. The chance of getting pregnant is only 15% per cycle. The most important thing is to stay relaxed and keep a good body feeling.