You’ve made the big decision to start a family, and the next logical step seems pretty simple. But getting pregnant is not always as easy as it may seem.
“The fertile period begins one to six days before ovulation and lasts until ovulation. It’s important to be able to predict this window because once you ovulate, it’s too late,” says Angela Leung, MD, OB/GYN chief resident at Tufts Medical Center. “Ovulation occurs 14 days before your period. Most women have their period every 28-to-30 days, but for some women that range can be anywhere from every 24-to-35 days. Every woman is different and the key is to find the right timing for your body.”
Luckily, as with most things these days, there’s an app for that! If you have a smartphone, chances are you have access to a wide variety of ovulation timing apps that can be downloaded for free and can be a great help in identifying your fertile window each month.
“I recommend the app ‘Glow’ to my patients,” Dr. Leung said. “It’s a useful and easy-to-use tool for people trying to get pregnant and even for people trying not to get pregnant. The app helps you keep track of the days between periods so you can see how frequent and consistent your periods are, and ultimately determine your interval.”
Ovulation timing apps can also be very helpful for people undergoing fertility treatment, reminding them to take their medication or go to doctor’s appointments. Patients who monitor their basal body temperature or use ovulation predictor kits can also enter that data into these apps. And many apps also have a community feature with chat features, so patients can communicate with other women who are also trying to conceive. But while these apps can be very effective for most people, they are not for everyone.
“The apps are most useful for the approximately 80 percent of women with regular periods,” said Dr. Leung said. “Apps will not be as accurate or effective for people with irregular periods. If you have irregular periods, you should be evaluated by an OB/GYN for a number of potential medical problems that may or may not be serious, but may need to be treated.
Of course, just because you use an ovulation timing app and determine your fertile window doesn’t guarantee you’ll get pregnant on the first try or even in the first few tries.
“If you are under 35 with regular periods, it is reasonable to try to conceive for a year before exploring options for additional help; if you are 35 or older, give it six months,” said dr. Leung said. “Some women may need to see a fertility specialist for further treatment, which may include medication or in vitro fertilization (IVF).”
Dr. Leung also emphasizes that once you’ve made the decision to try to conceive, it’s never too early to make sure you’re giving yourself the best chance for a successful pregnancy.
“I always recommend making an appointment to see your OB/GYN for counseling to optimize the health of your pregnancy—even before you’re pregnant,” Dr. Leung said. “You should also start taking a folic acid-rich prenatal vitamin before you start trying to conceive. Folic acid is important in fetal brain development, which occurs four weeks after conception – often before the woman even knows she is pregnant. This is why it is so important to take this vitamin already at the time of conception – by the time you find out you are pregnant, it may be too late.”
Again, timing is everything!
Posted June 2018
The above content is provided by Tufts Medical Center for educational purposes. It is free for educational use. For information about your own health, contact your doctor.