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What is a fertile period?

by Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

Women‘s bodies work in cycles, and they are only able to conceive in one particular part of their cycle, and this part is called their fertile period. The exact length of a fertile period varies between women, and even for one woman at different times in her life.

 Knowing when her fertile period is can be of great use to a woman; it can be used to avoid pregnancy or increase the chances of becoming pregnant. Thus, many women like to know when they are likely to be fertile each month.

 In very general terms, a woman menstruates (or has a period) every twenty-eight days. The first day of bleeding is counted as day one of her cycle, with day 28 being the last day before her next cycle. In this “typical” woman, ovulation, or release of an egg from the ovary, then occurs on day 14 of the cycle. The peek fertile period is three days on either side of ovulation, although pregnancy can occur within 7 days of anticipated ovulation.

 For pregnancy to occur, sperm must reach the egg within 12 - 24 hours of release. Allowing for sperm’s potential life span of 72 hours, there is a small amount of time for conception to occur and this is why knowing when ovulation happens is of such importance.

 However, as very few women have a cycle of exactly 28 days, it can be hard to predict exactly when she will ovulate. Menstruation always occurs 13-15 days after ovulation, so women with regular cycles may be able to determine the likely time of ovulation from this. Some women experience a small amount of spotting or abdominal pain at ovulation, which certainly simplifies the issue.

 The majority of women, however, need other methods to determine their peek fertility period. Two common methods are basal temperature rates and mucous consistencies. Both of these methods are effective, although they usually require careful monitoring for a few months prior to relying on them.

 Now days, there are ovulation tests available which clearly determine when a woman’s fertile period is. These tests are based on measuring levels of LH (Luteinizing Hormone) in the woman’s blood. A surge of LH is a key indicator that ovulation is about to occur, usually within 12 – 48 hours. Once the surge is detected, intercourse over the next day or two has the most chance of resulting in conception.

 LH detecting kits have been available in the USA for some time, but are newer and generally more expensive in Australia. Simple, urine based LH tests can now be obtained in Australia at competitive prices.


Tash Hughes is the mother of four and owner of Word Constructions and assists businesses in preparing all written documentation and web site content. Tash also writes parenting and business articles for inclusion in newsletter and web sites.

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