Women are born with millions of immature eggs in preparation for the ovulation process of reproduction. Ovulation is the maturing of the female egg before it moves out of the ovary and through the fallopian tubes toward the uterus. Each egg will live between 12 and 24 hours before being absorbed into the lining of the uterus. This is the body's way of telling the woman she is ready to conceive.
Ovulation typically occurs between days 11 and 21 of the menstrual cycle. Calculating the window of fertility begins on the first day of the last menstrual cycle. For instance, if a woman starts her menstrual cycle on 1 April, she will ovulate between 12 April and 22 April.
There are two phases, the follicular phase and the luteal phase. The follicular phase occurs at the start of the menstrual cycle and lasts until the egg is actually released. The luteal phase begins on the same day the egg is released and lasts until the first day of the next menstrual cycle. This can be an important part of tracking conception because the egg has matured and is ready for fertilization when the woman is ovulating.
For women trying to track their fertility pattern in order to increase the chances of becoming pregnant, the luteal phase is when ovulation occurs. During this time, luteinizing hormone (LH) is released, which helps the egg to pass through the wall of the ovary and into the fallopian tube. This is when the egg is most fertile.
There are several ways to track ovulation including basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and testing kits. Each of these prediction methods require regular tracking of menstrual cycles. Once a menstrual pattern is established, predicting ovulation may be easier.
Basal body temperature, or average body temperature, will rise just a bit when ovulation begins. Temperature readings should be taken in the morning as soon as the woman awakens. Daily temperatures may have to be tracked for several months to notice the spike.
Cervical mucus will appear wet and slippery during ovulation. Women often relate the look of cervical mucus at this time to the look of egg whites. A sample of the cervical mucus can be collected by inserting an index finger into the vagina.
Prediction kits measure the amount of LH in the urine. The kits usually contain five to seven sticks. Although the LH is highest in the morning, the kits should not be used until four to six hours after waking. This is the time it takes for the hormone to pass out of the body during urination.