At Home with Chris Jessen 2018 - 185
WO M E N ' S H E A LT H ▲
aking babies sounds so
easy, doesn't it? Stop
have sex regularly and
bingo... you'll get
pregnant. Sadly for many couples it
isn't that simple, but getting to know
your menstrual cycle - and more
specifically, when your most fertile
time of the month falls - will boost
your chances of a natural conception.
The most fertile days in your cycle
are from two days before ovulation
(when the egg is released from
the ovary), to two days after. Women
ovulate 14 days before the start of their
next period, so in theory it should be
easy to calculate your fertility window.
However, complications such as an
irregular cycle mean it's not always
so simple to do the maths.
Read our guide to discover how
to identify when you're at your most
likely to conceive.
ESTABLISH THE NATURE
OF YOUR CYCLE
The first thing you need is to identify
the length of your menstrual cycle.
Some women have a regular 28-day
cycle, others have a longer or shorter
regular cycle, while others have a
totally irregular cycle, not knowing
when their next period is due.
If you have a regular menstrual
cycle, it means that you are ovulating
at roughly the same time every month,
but whatever your cycle, it's possible
to discover when you are at your
most fertile - it's a case of working it
out with a simple piece of maths.
THE 28-DAY REGULAR CYCLE
If you have regular cycle with a period
every 28 days, month in, month out,
your fertility window is easy to
calculate. For you, it's day 14, which
happens to be right in the middle of
your cycle - 14 days from the start of
your last period and 14 days before the
start of your next one. That means
you're at your most fertile 12-16 days
after the start of your period,
two days either side.
If your periods are regular but longer,
you still ovulate 14 days before your
next expected period. That means you
if your period starts 31 days after the
start of your last period, you ovulate
on day 17 (31 minus 14), making days
15-19 the most fertile of your cycle.
Similarly, if your cycle is regular but
shorter than the 'standard' 28 days,
simply subtract 14 from the length of
your cycle to work out your ovulation
date and establish what should be
your most fertile days.
THE TOTALLY IRREGULAR
If you have an irregular cycle, you
don't know when your next period
will start and therefore have no
way of calculating when you will
be ovulating. That's where at-home
ovulation testing kits come in.
They work by measuring luteinising
hormone (LH), which is involved in
the control of ovulation. Levels of
LH generally increase about 24-
WHATEVER YOUR CYCLE,
IT'S POSSIBLE TO DISCOVER
WHEN YOU ARE MOST
FERTILE - DO THE MATHS
36 hours before ovulation. Such a
change can be detected in the urine
via home testing kits - available over
the counter at most chemists. You can
expect results by email within a week.
BOOSTING YOUR FERTILITY
As well as getting to know your cycle, some simple lifestyle changes can increase your chances of conceiving naturally...
Smoking severely reduces
fertility in both men and
women, so quitting cigarettes
is one of the best things you
can do to boost your chances
of conceiving. The NHS offers
a free help-to-quit service.
EAT A SENSIBLE DIET
Restrict your intake of junk
food and make sure you get
your five portions of fruit
and vegetables every day.
Remember, one smoothie
equals two portions of your
five a day recommended
allowance. Eating oily fish
such as mackerel, sardines,
herring, tuna or salmon twice
a week can help too.
Walk for 30 minutes every
day come rain or shine.
New evidence suggests
over-exercising in the gym,
however, can reduce women's
fertility, so go easy.
the cervix and up into the
uterus and fallopian tubes to
fertilise that one egg released
every month. Don't go to the
loo after sex as you'll cause
seminal fluid containing
millions of sperm to leak out.
Instead, lie with your legs
up against a wall for a few
minutes after sex to help the
little fellas on their journey.
HAVE PLENTY OF SEX
VISIT YOUR GP
Aim to have sex every day
during your 'fertility window',
(see above). You need as
many viable, active sperm
as possible to get through
If you have acne in your mid
20s or beyond, you may
have polycystic ovaries,
which not only causes acne
but also excess body hair,
irregular periods and can
have a detrimental affect on
fertility. If you have any of
these symptoms, ask your GP
to send you for an ultrasound
scan of your ovaries to see if
you have the condition.
REDUCE THE CAFFEINE
Research has shown that just
one cup of coffee a day could
halve your chances of
conception. Doctors think
caffeine slows the activity of
the fallopian tubes, which carry
eggs from the ovaries. Shift to
herbal tea (we know!) if you
can face it.
www.athomemagazine.co.uk FEBRUARY 2018 | 185