The Fertile Window
The "fertile window" is a span of six days during a woman's menstrual cycle when she is most likely to get pregnant. It includes the day of ovulation -- that is, when an ovary releases an egg into the fallopian tubes -- as well as the five days leading up to ovulation. Experts recommend having intercourse during the fertile window in order to increase your odds of conception.
Why Such a Short Time?
Each egg only has a time frame of about 24 hours during which it can be successfully fertilized. Male sperm, on the other hand, can survive and fertilize for up to five days after intercourse. Therefore, those six days are the only time a woman can actually become pregnant.
Finding Your Window
Calculating the exact timing of a fertile window is more difficult than it may seem, especially for women who have irregular cycles. Most often, it occurs two weeks prior to the next anticipated period. For a woman with a regular 28-day cycle, that usually means ovulation occurs on day 14. However, nature doesn't always work with such regular consistency, and ovulation may happen at any time.
Some fertility clinics offer tools and measurements to better calculate and predict your fertile window. These might include a thermometer to measure basal body temperature, hormone tests, and data aggregates.
If you are struggling to conceive, don't give up hope just yet. Talk with a doctor at a fertility clinic to learn more about how to increase your odds of reproduction with a little bit of planning and preparation. If those methods still don't work, it may be time to think about IVF or artificial insemination.
In the end, no one understands your body better than you. Listen to the signals your body may be trying to give you to decide how to best create the future you want for you and your family.