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How do I know when I'm fertile?

At what time of the month is a woman most fertile?

The day you start your period is "Day 1". Around "Day 14" you may ovulate. This means that your ovary produces an egg. That egg is viable for about 24 hours; this is your most fertile time. However, not all women ovulate on "Day 14". Some ovulate a little earlier and some later. Some don't ovulate at all. Remember, you can get your period even though you are not ovulating. Your ability to ovulate can vary from month to month.

Sperm is viable for about 48 hours. It is crucial for sperm to be present during the woman's most fertile time.

How can a woman tell when she ovulates?

The simple, inexpensive way of finding out the approximate time when you ovulate is to take your basal temperature every morning and record it on a chart. You can buy a Basal Body Thermometer at your drug store. Save all your charts so you can review them with your doctor. Three or four months of charting should be adequate.

Are there any other ways to detect ovulation?

Yes. You can buy an ovulation predictor urine test at your drug store. Also, your body may signal when you are about to ovulate; many women feel twinges in their lower abdomen (your ovaries are on the right and left sides of your lower abdomen). Other women notice clear, stretchy vaginal discharge just at their fertile time.

Your doctor can also request an ultrasound or appropriate blood tests to determine ovulation.

How often should we have intercouse?

It is a good idea to have intercouse every other day around the time you ovulate. (Day 10, 12, 14, and 16.) Remember, every woman is different, and may not ovulate exactly on "Day 14". And, just because you ovulated on "Day 14" this month, doesn't mean you will next month. It is preferable to have intercourse every other day rather than every day so that sufficient sperm will be available.

To increase your chances of the egg becoming fertilized, do not douche or use lubricants immediately before having intercourse.

What about smoking and drinking alcohol and caffeine?

There is evidence linking reproductive impairment with exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine. Alcohol and tobacco use have been demonstrated to affect the reproductive capacities of both men and women, and tobacco is an especially potent reproductive toxin.

It is wise to be in the best physical shape possible while you attempt to conceive and, of course, to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Are hot tubs really bad for a man?

Yes. High temperatures can kill sperm. That is why the scrotum is located outside the body--to act as a kind of "refrigerator" to keep the sperm cool. So, it is a good idea to avoid hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms.

What else can we do?

Learn as much as you can about infertility. Get and read good, reliable information (not just from popular magazines) from your doctor, library, or trusted friends or family. RESOLVE has over 60 fact sheets on different topics related to infertility, and support groups in many areas. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor or nurse questions, or to call the RESOLVE HelpLine. The more you know, the more you will be able to ask for information and get the help you need. Educating yourselves can save years of frustration and disappointment.

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