Before you plan to have sex, read this.

Unlike cliched movie scenes where the leading lady collapses and discovers in a flush of delight that she is pregnant, information on topics like menstruation, fertility, conception and pregnancy is easily available and need not come as a surprise. Am I in the fertile window where I can conceive if not on contraception? Or in the safe window where I can sex up my holiday without fretting? If you are looking for answers to such questions, go no further.

What is fertility?
Female fertility is a woman’s ability to conceive a child. Every month, there are certain days when you are more fertile than others. This is called the “Fertile Window”. In a regular 28-day cycle, days 8-18 are considered fertile. The average lifespan of a sperm is 5 to 7 days and that of an ovum is 3 days. So the chances of getting pregnant are the highest 2 days before ovulation and on Ovulation Day! If you want to have sex without contraceptives, plan accordingly.

Factors affecting fertility:

Healthy eggs: Certain conditions may curb production of eggs (ovulation failure, anovulatory cycles i.e. where no ovum is produced). A few cycles at menarche (the beginning of menses) and a few before menopause may be anovulatory. This means that despite being in the fertile window, you may not be able to conceive even after an intercourse.

Patent (Open) Fallopian Tubes: The fallopian tubes pick up the egg released from the ovarian follicle and fertilization typically occurs within the tube. The fertilized egg is slowly moved towards the uterus for implantation. Loss of effective funnel or patency of tubes can lead to infertility.

Uterus: A normal uterus with healthy endometrium is a prerequisite for the embryo to be implanted. Uterine septae, fibroma and thinned endometrium can be causes for infertility.

Hormones: Right hormones at the right stage are crucial for preparation of uterus, implantation of embryo, development of placenta and growth of fetus. Any deviation in any of these can lead to failure to conceive.

Other factors that affect long-term fertility are weight, lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking, age, chronic ailments such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis.

How do you know you are fertile?
It’s all about calculations. When it comes to determining your fertile window here are signs that ovulation is just around the corner, indicators that will help you spruce up your sex life during the window days:

Sensitive breasts: There will be days when your breasts feel heavy and sensitive to touch. Probably so painful that you won’t be able to even wear a bra! This could be due to hormonal fluctuations but may also be because of salt retention. So you might want to think twice about those chips.

Being Hormonal: Thanks to all that estrogen, you are at your sexy best! Fuller lips, soft silky skin and pining for your partner are subtle indicators that it’s time to get between the sheets and get sexy!

The Wet Factor: Cervical mucus production increases during Ovulation, a natural adaptation to allow the penetration of sperms. You’ll feel wet, but that’s fine.

Smelling it all: An unusually heightened sense of smell is indicative of high fertile times. So the next time you get irritated by the not-so-smelly-socks your partner brings in, ignore the irritation and jump into bed with him!

Heat: Your body temperature tends to increase by about a degree at the time of ovulation. A daily temperature chart can help you to know when it happens.

In case you want to be absolutely sure about your ovulation cycle because you may be planning to conceive, you can get a serial Ultrasound scan done. It can pick up the development of follicles and hence the exact day of ovulation. Ovulation predictor kits available in the market and smartphone apps that track your period and predict with reasonable accuracy are other options available.

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