Planning your pregnancy involves determining when you want your baby to arrive. Although you can’t guarantee the exact date of your baby’s birth, knowing when you ovulate can help you determine the best time to have intercourse. An ovulation calculator, as well as physical ovulation indicators, can help you narrow down the time of ovulation.
Ovulation refers to the process of your ovaries releasing eggs. A surge of luteinizing hormone triggers ovulation to occur. Your body responds to this surge by ovulating about 36 hours later. If sperm are present in the fallopian tube near the time of ovulation, conception may occur.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, average sperm live between 24 and 48 hours, while average eggs live only 24 hours. This means that there is only a short window of time for conception to occur. Calculating the time of ovulation can help ensure sperm are ready and waiting to meet up with the released egg shortly after it enters a fallopian tube.
Numerous health and pregnancy websites provide free online ovulation calculators. Health providers can also provide you with small paper ovulation calculators. Ovulation calculators provide an estimated time of ovulation based on your menstrual cycle. While ovulation calculators may vary, these basic tools require you to enter the number of days in your menstrual cycle and then provide you with the approximate date of your next ovulation. The length of your cycle begins with the first day of your menstrual flow and ends with the first day of your next flow. Ovulation usually takes place about 14 days before your next period starts.
Pros and Cons
Ovulation calculators are simple and easy to use, compared to other methods of predicting ovulation, such as tracking your basal body temperature or examining your cervical mucus. However, women with irregular periods may ovulate at different times each month, making it difficult to determine the best time for intercourse. Certain factors can alter the timing of ovulation, such as stress, exercise and illness.
As your body prepares for ovulation, it provides useful clues regarding the onset of ovulation. Used in conjunction with the results of your ovulation calculator, these clues can help you isolate the most likely time of ovulation. Before ovulation, your cervical mucus likely resembles raw egg whites. After ovulation, cervical mucus usually changes texture, appearing cloudy and sticky, or even disappearing. Your temperature also tends to rise slightly right after ovulation occurs. You may need to keep track of your cervical secretions and basal body temperature for a number of months to help you determine the most fertile time in your menstrual cycle.