Your Best Days for Making a Baby
Melinda Miller-Thrasher, MD
You're ready to get pregnant, and you want to know when you're most likely to conceive. That means figuring out when you're ovulating.
First, review the basics:
- You can ovulate anywhere from 13 to 20 days before your period.
- To get pregnant, you should have sex a few days leading up to and on the day of ovulation.
- Sperm can live up to 6 days in your body, but your egg can only survive 12 to 24 hours. That's why having sex before and during ovulation is recommended, so that the odds are best of sperm and egg meeting.
- Basal body temperature (BBT) charting is sometime used to determine if you have ovulated, but it's not foolproof.
Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs)
Ovulation predictor kits are designed to identify which days you are most fertile. But many couples can conceive on their own without using these kits.
"I don't typically recommend this right off the bat," says Caren Schaecher, MD, an ob-gyn at Women's Health Care at St. Luke's Hospital in Chesterfield, Mo. But if it's been a few months, it may help you to know your most fertile times, and these kits can help, she says.
The kits may also help couples who have timing issues -- for instance, if you or your partner travels a lot for work, you can plan ahead.
It can also help if you and your partner are feeling pressured about trying to get pregnant.
"The rest of the month they can feel like they're just a normal couple, and they're not hyper-focused on fertility," says William B. Schoolcraft, MD, founder and medical director of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine.
Ovulation Predictor Kits: Urine
Ovulation predictor kits test your urine to detect levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), which triggers ovulation. "The LH surge is typically 24 to 36 hours before ovulation," says Schaecher.
The kits will instruct you when to start testing your urine based on the length of your menstrual cycle. Then generally you'll test for 5 to 7 days. Some kits allow you to test more days.
Cost: About $17 and up
Ovulation Test Strips
These are the simplest and least expensive option. You hold the test strip in your urine stream (or in a sterile cup you've filled with urine). Color coding will tell you whether you're ovulating.
Digital Ovulation Tests include a digital readout, which may make it easier to see your results.
- Digital Ovulation Test
- Costs about $30-$50
- Detects LH
- Advanced Digital Ovulation Test
- Costs about $38 for a one-month supply and $54 for a two-month supply
- Detects both LH and estrogen to predict your top two fertile days, plus an additional four days when you could potentially become pregnant.
Fertility Monitor. This device stores the information from your monthly urine tests.
- Detects both LH and estrogen
- Designed to show you low, high, and peak fertility days, adding an additional 1 to 5 days of fertility
- Stores information about your hormone cycles, so it tells you when to test and when your period is due
- Monitor costs about $160; test sticks are sold separately for about $50 for a packet of 30