It may sound surprising, but you are not yet pregnant during week one of pregnancy. Pregnancy is measured on a 40-week calendar, and day one begins on the first day of your last menstrual cycle. You become pregnant near the end of week two or the beginning of week three, depending on when your body ovulates. Ovulation marks your body’s fertile period.
Signs of Ovulation
Your ovulation cycle determines the exact date on which you conceive. Ovulation usually occurs between 13 to 20 days after the first day of your period, depending on the length of your cycle. When you ovulate, one of your ovaries releases an egg that travels into your fallopian tube. To conceive, your partner’s sperm must also travel to the fallopian tube and meet the egg at the optimal time, which can be difficult to determine without careful observation.
There are several methods you can use to help predict when you ovulate. If you look for ovulation’s signs and signals, you can predict a window for fertility that will help you determine when you and your partner should have intercourse.
Track Your Period
You may have heard that a typical menstrual cycle lasts 28 days. Many women, however, do not have 28-day cycles, and some women’s cycles vary from month to month.
Track your period for several months to help you to determine a pattern for your cycle. To do this, simply mark the first day of your period once a month. You can even try a fertility app, which will help you calculate your ovulation window based off of your average cycle.
Measure Your Basal Body Temperature
Your body’s basal temperature will change when you ovulate. You are most likely to become pregnant two or three days before your temperature rises. To determine when your basal body temperature changes, you should record your temperature each day (at about the same time each day) and watch for a pattern to develop. You’ll need a special thermometer to measure your basal body temperature and you must take your temperature at the same time each morning, usually when you wake up. Because you will need to time intercourse before the temperature increase, you will need to track it for a few months, in order to find a pattern.
Observe Your Vaginal Discharge
When ovulating, your vaginal discharge, known as cervical mucus, will change in texture and consistency. Your discharge will become clear and slippery, like raw egg whites, as your body prepares to ovulate. After ovulation, the discharge becomes cloudy and thick, and then will disappear altogether.
Use an Ovulation Test
Another way to determine when you are ovulating is to use an ovulation test kit. These tests use your urine to measure whether certain hormones are present in your body, which can predict ovulation. You can purchase these tests over the counter. Follow the instructions provided with the test to ensure that you get accurate results.
Tips for Conceiving
Once you are aware of your ovulation patterns using any of these methods, you and your partner must plan to have intercourse during your peak fertile time. This is usually a day before ovulation, so the sperm have time to travel to the fallopian tube to fertilize the egg. Have regular sex in the days leading up to ovulation. This will increase the chance of sperm connecting with the egg.
To prepare for conception, you can engage in a number of healthy behaviors to prime your body. Consider taking prenatal vitamins daily. They will help supplement your diet with folic acid and other nutrients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 400 micrograms of folic acid daily for women who can get pregnant. Women who get this amount of folic acid daily before conception and during early pregnancy reduce the risk of a serious neural tube birth defect by up to 70 percent, reports the March of Dimes.
In addition to vitamins, there are other ways you can prepare your body for conception and pregnancy:
- manage your weight
- eat a well-balanced diet
- engage in regular exercise
- reduce stress
- drink less alcohol and caffeine
Being aware of these aspects of your health will not only benefit you as you try to conceive, but also will prepare you to take care of your body when you become pregnant.
Ovulation and Beyond
These early stages of pregnancy are just the first of many steps in your journey toward parenthood. It will take some time after conception for your body to show signs of pregnancy. A missed period is usually the first noticeable sign of pregnancy. After missing a period, a pregnancy test can confirm whether you were indeed able to conceive. Pregnancy tests measure the presence of the hormone hCG in your body.
Using methods to track ovulation along with taking care of your body leading up to your fertile period will increase the chances of conception near the end of week two. You may not get pregnant the first few times you try to conceive, but 80 to 90 couples out of 100 conceive within the first year of trying, reports NHS Choices.
If you are having trouble conceiving or are concerned about an aspect of getting pregnant, contact your doctor to discuss a medical evaluation for possible infertility.