Written by: Dr. Amy Beckley, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test — the first and only FDA-cleared test to confirm successful ovulation at home.
Written on 2/15/21
The fertile window is the few days each month when it is possible to conceive.
If you are trying to conceive, you likely want to do everything in your power to optimize your chances of pregnancy. This starts, often, with timed intercourse!
We know — timed intercourse isn’t the sexiest term, but it actually is critical when trying to conceive. This is because there are only a few days each cycle where conception is actually possible. These days are known as your fertile window. Keeping reading to learn more about your fertile window and how to find it!
What is the fertile window?
The fertile window is the few days each month when it is possible to conceive. You may also hear the fertile window referred to as peak fertility.
This time period includes the few days leading up to and the day of ovulation. Typically, the fertile window lasts about 6 days, consisting of about 5 days before ovulation and ovulation day itself.
But why exactly are we only fertile for those few days? This is because an egg is only viable for about 12-24 after ovulation occurs. On the other hand, sperm can survive in the female reproductive system for about 3-5 days. So, in order to maximize the short amount of time that an egg survives, having intercourse allows the sperm to be present and waiting for the egg before it’s released.
Why is the fertile window important?
The fertile window is when intercourse is most likely to result in conception. Timing intercourse during your fertile window is essential to give you the best possible chance of pregnancy.
It’s important to note that you don’t need to have intercourse every day of your fertile window if you’re not up for it. Research indicates there is only a slight variance in the probability of conception when having sex daily compared to every other day during this time period.
Research indicates there is only a slight variance in the probability of conception when having sex daily compared to every other day during your fertile window.
How do I find my fertile window?
The fertile window is not the same for all women and can vary depending on the duration of your menstrual cycle. There are several ovulation prediction methods you can consider using to help determine your fertile window. This includes LH (ovulation) tests, basal body temperature (BBT) tracking, and cervical mucus monitoring.
LH (ovulation) tests
LH (luteinizing hormone) is the hormone that surges just before ovulation and triggers the ovary to release an egg. Ovulation tests measure LH levels in urine to detect a surge and predict when ovulation is going to occur.
A positive ovulation test indicates an LH surge and opens your fertile window. Ovulation occurs about 24-48 hours after an LH surge, depending on the woman.
As you begin your cycle, you may only want to test your LH levels once a day. However, as you approach your date of suspected ovulation, it is a good idea to test twice daily — once in the morning and once in the evening. LH surges can be very brief, therefore testing twice daily can provide you with a better chance of accurately catching it.
If you are testing with Proov Predict, we recommend starting to test for an LH surge about 18 days before your next suspected period. Luckily, we provide plenty of LH tests so that you can test twice a day if needed!
If you are using Proov Predict, we recommend starting to test for an LH surge about 18 days before your next suspected period.
Basal body temperature tracking (BBT)
Basal body temperature is your body’s lowest resting temperature. Before ovulation is going to occur, your BBT will slightly dip. Then, after ovulation, your BBT will rise and remain elevated for a few days. These changes in temperature signal when you’re going to ovulate.
Monitoring BBT takes consistency and dedication. In order to get accurate results, you should take your temperature each morning at the same time before you get out of bed. Over time, you will have logged several cycles and will be able to find a pattern in your temperature chart. Your most fertile time is 2-3 days before your temperature rises.
Note that BBT can easily be influenced by things like warm or cold rooms, alcohol consumption, a poor night’s sleep, or warm cuddles.
Cervical mucus monitoring
Cervical mucus consistency changes throughout your cycle. During the majority of your cycle, cervical mucus will be dry and sticky. Then, during your fertile window, cervical mucus will become wet, stretchy, and may even resemble egg whites. Fertile cervical mucus provides a healthy environment for the sperm to swim through to reach the egg.
Fertile cervical mucus is an indicator that ovulation is coming. Cervical mucus can be discovered on toilet paper after wiping or through finger testing. The overall appearance of the mucus should be followed closely. Cervical mucus can also be monitored through the sensation felt at the vulva, which includes dryness, dampness, or wetness.
Regardless of the ovulation prediction method you choose to use, be sure to have intercourse during your fertile window!
Optimize your chances at pregnancy by confirming ovulation was successful
Timing intercourse during your fertile window when trying to conceive is important, but without ovulation, you won’t have a chance at conception that cycle. The methods used to find your fertile window tell you nothing about if an egg was actually released; they simply predict when it is going to happen.
Additionally, in order to have the best possible chance at conception, ovulation needs to be “successful.” Successful ovulation refers to an ovulatory event where an egg is released and PdG (progesterone metabolite) levels remain elevated for long enough to allow for the best possible chance at conception.
Proov PdG tests are the first and only FDA cleared PdG tests to confirm successful ovulation at home! While a single positive Proov PdG test confirms that ovulation occurred, we like to see four positive tests on days 7, 8, 9, and 10 after peak fertility to confirm that ovulation was successful.
Understanding your fertile window and how to find it gives you the tools you need to get pregnant faster!