When trying to conceive, most women want to know their most fertile times of the month in order to maximize their chances of achieving pregnancy. Unfortunately, many snoozed right through that part of health class, and are left baffled by the mystery of their own female body. If that's you, let the head scratching now cease — you just need to know how to calculate your ovulation date.
For an in-depth explanation, Romper reached out to reproductive endocrinologist and co-Medical Director at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine in Boston, Dr. Alison Zimon, who says its important to understand the two phases of the menstrual cycle: follicular and luteal. Zimon explains, "in the follicular phase, the egg and supporting follicle develop and grow, and the luteal phase occurs after ovulation. While the follicular phase can vary from woman to woman, the luteal phase tends to be more consistent." She also notes that there's usually a range of 11 to 16 days, but most women have a luteal phase of approximately 14 days.
Clear as mud? Hang in there, she's not done.
"A woman who has a 28-day cycle will have most likely have a 14-day luteal phase, a 14-day follicular phase, and will ovulate around cycle day 14," Zimon continues. "In a similar fashion, a woman who has a 26-day cycle likely ovulates around cycle day 12 and woman who has a 30-day cycle likely ovulates around cycle day 16."
Your ovulation date can vary from month to month, but for most women it won't be by more than one or two days. But is there a way to know for sure? Zimon says over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits work quite well. Two to four days before anticipated ovulation, a woman can check her urine every day for the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge which precedes ovulation by one day. So, for a woman who has a 28-day cycle, she may start using the predictor kit on cycle day 10 and find that she has a positive on cycle day 13, which confirms that she ovulates on day 14.
The female body is an amazing and intricate system, and not every woman's cycle will cooperatively fall along the aforementioned lines. If your cycles are drastically irregular, or you have other concerns about your menstruation, talk to your doctor for help identifying your ovulation date. And if you find yourself getting too worked up about dates, remember: sex can be a great stress reliever any time of the month.