When you’re trying to get pregnant, learning about when you ovulate is one of the most important things you can do. It’s only in the days around ovulation that you can actually conceive: for conception to happen, sperm need to encounter an egg no more than 24 hours after it is ovulated. After this maximum 24 hour period, the egg is no longer viable. Sperm survive longer: around five days, so what’s known as your ‘fertile window’ begins five days before you ovulate and ends 24 hours after.
Most fertility plans revolve around this fertile window: identifying it, predicting it, and making sure you are taking full advantage of it. Many problems with fertility come down issues with ovulation. If you ovulate less frequently, you have less chances to get pregnant. If you ovulate less regularly, you may find it difficult to identify that important fertile window.
Today we’re taking a look at some of the things that can affect when you ovulate, so you can spot them in advance and take account of them in your fertility planning.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
One of the most significant fertility challenges experienced by women in the western world, PCOS and ovulation are linked on a deep level. It’s a hormone driven condition that, among it’s other symptoms, causes your menstrual cycle to become both longer and irregular.
It is possible to try and reduce the effect PCOS has on your cycle through natural means. The root cause is a high level of insulin being produced by your body: if you can reduce the amount of insulin you produce you can restore more regular ovulatory cycles. Switching to a low GI diet means eating food that raises your blood sugar level more slowly, which can help to control your insulin levels. You may also want to investigate a supplement called Inositol which helps your body use the insulin it does produce more efficiently.
Stress is another factor that can interfere with your menstrual cycle, potentially suspending ovulation altogether. This is measure by your body to try and protect you and in a way the child you are trying to conceive. To your brain, stress is stress, and the tension and worry you feel from a testing time at work, insomnia or even a more strenuous exercise routine and diet makes it look like you are living in a difficult and dangerous environment like a famine or a war. This is not a safe time to have children, so ovulation becomes rarer or even stops altogether!
Some stress you can’t escape from, but if you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s not a great time to try and train for a marathon – or get stuck into some marathon late nights at work for a demanding boss.
Your diet gives your body all the building blocks it needs run efficiently and effectively: if your diet doesn’t supply all those necessary raw materials, some processes won’t work as well, and one of those is your menstrual cycle.
If you’re not getting all the nutrients you need for regular and reliable ovulations from your diet, it’s a good idea to look into supplements. Research what you need: rather than simply taking a broad spectrum ‘fertility supplement’ identify the key things your body needs and make sure it’s getting them!