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Do Ovulation Calculators Work?

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 2 Apr 2012 | comments*Discuss
Ovulation Calculators Pregnant Fertility

If you have been trying to get pregnant for a few months without success, it is probably too early yet to start having fertility tests. You can maximise your chances of conceiving by checking when you are most likely to be ovulating and make sure that you have regular sex during the correct time of your cycle. It seems a bit clinical, but marking the dates on a calendar and then arranging some romantic evenings can make it seem more fun. The important thing is not to become too obsessed.

Various ovulation calculators are available and there are plenty of websites online that offer this facility. But do they work, and how do they work. Can they really help or do you need to do something more personal for you?

What are Ovulation Calculators?

All the ovulation calculators available online are essentially the same. A small piece of script is built into the webpage to enable you to put in the first day on which you started your last monthly period. You also have to enter how many days in your usual menstrual cycle; for some women this will be the standard 28 days but it can vary between individuals. To be able to use an ovulation calculator at all you need to know how many days in your cycle and your cycle needs to be very regular.

Once you have done that, the program basically assumes that ovulation will occur half way through your cycle, so will then pinpoint those few days as when you are most likely to ovulate. There is nothing to stop you doing the calculation yourself and just keeping the dates on a diary or wall calendar. The online versions can be useful if you can’t be bothered with all of the counting.

Some of the most advanced ones available allow you to enter your cycle length and your luteal phase length (see below) and one has a built in script for creating and printing out your own ovulation calendar.

Do Ovulation Calculators Work?

They can only be useful if your cycle is regular and if you ovulate exactly half way through your cycle. As mentioned already, many women have regular but longer or shorter menstrual cycles than the average of 28 days, and they can benefit from this calculation. If your cycle is not regular, it isn’t going to be as accurate and if you ovulate early or late in your cycle, it will just be plain wrong.

In some cases, a short luteal phase, where a woman ovulates within 10 days of the start of her last monthly period, can cause problems with both conceiving and with maintaining a pregnancy once it starts. Luteal phase defects are generally caused by a low level of progesterone and this can lead to early miscarriage.

Pinpointing Ovulation More Accurately

If you don’t have any reason to suspect that you have anything other than a normal, regular menstrual cycle, ovulation calculators may be all that you need. It sounds obvious, but when both halves of a couple are busy with work and other commitments, sex can happen around weekends and holidays – but you may be missing those few crucial days around ovulation. Just by paying attention to your cycle could mean a successful conception.

If you want to make sure that you know more accurately when you are ovulating, you can start taking your temperature first thing each morning and recording it on a daily basis. You can even use your printed ovulation calendar to do this. At the time of ovulation, your resting body temperature will go up slightly, and there will be a small peak as your egg is released. You may need to do this over a few months, but you will then be able to plan your ‘baby-making’ romantic times exactly around ovulation.

When is it Time for Fertility Tests?

If you have used both the ovulation checking methods with no success for about a year, it is probably wise to make an appointment with your GP to discuss fertility testing. If there is a problem, it may be easily identified and you can then get the necessary treatment.

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