Trying to conceive comes easy for some — skip the birth control, and a baby joins your family in nine or so months. For others, though, it isn't that simple, and if your cycle doesn't come and go on a regular, predictable basis, it can be hard to determine when it's best to try for a baby. If you don't know when you'll ovulate, try these tips to get a handle on timing and to improve your chances of success.
Check your cycle
If you don't fall into the 28-day cycle range your high school health class taught you about, it doesn't necessarily mean that your cycle is irregular. Some women just naturally have a 33-day cycle, for example, so it can seem off when really it's just a little longer than you are expecting. Get into the habit of marking the first day of your period on your calendar — virtually, or the one hanging on your wall — and note what patterns, if any, emerge.
Ovulation generally occurs 14 or 15 days before your period begins. Generally — but not always. This means that if your cycle differs from a 28-day one, whether it's regular or not, it may not happen mid-way through your cycle, which can catch you off guard. The good news? Your body gives you a really valuable clue — cervical fluid.
Also known by the less-attractive name "cervical mucus," cervical fluid is produced by, you guessed it, your cervix. You may not have given it a second thought before, but if you pay attention to it, it will tell you exactly when you need to get to sexin'. As ovulation approaches, it becomes slippery and stretchy — giving it the appearance and texture of egg whites. Consider this your notification to get busy, and in 14 or 15 days' time, your pregnancy test will hopefully turn positive.
Ovulation tests can also be a good idea if you're not sure when ovulation is approaching. They work by detecting your luteinizing hormone surge, which happens 12 to 24 hours (or so) before your egg is released. Used in combination with keeping track of your cervical fluid, you'll know when your chances of conception are higher, even if your cycle seems to be out of whack month to month.
Seek help if needed
Sometimes, especially if you've been trying for six months or more with no success, you might want to ask your doctor or gynecologist to see if there is anything she can suggest or tests she can run. Women whose cycles run longer than 40 days or if her periods seem to randomly appear without rhyme or reason may need a little looking into. Often, minor problems can be detected and corrected, or more specialized treatment can be ordered.
While you wait, though, boost those baby-making chances by tracking your cervical fluid — it is an amazing substance that can tell you so much about how your body is working.