When it comes to trying to fall pregnant the timing of intercourse is very important. Your sperm cells need to be available during ovulation to fertilise the egg, otherwise it is impossible to conceive. However, the fertility window is only open for a limited time, making intercourse timing a critical factor.
The Ovulation Window
A woman”s ovulation window is the time within a menstrual cycle when pregnancy is possible. The duration of this fertile phase is governed by the maximum lifespan of the egg and sperm. It is possible for sperm to live for up to five days within cervical fluid, while the egg can only survive for one day.
Therefore, theoretically the fertility window can be up to six days long, incorporating the five days prior to ovulation and the day of ovulation. Pregnancy is technically possible following unprotected intercourse in any of these six days.
However, the likelihood of conceiving is significantly enhanced when having intercourse within the three day immediately leading up to and including ovulation. It is these three days that are referred to as the “fertility window”.
Identifying the Fertility Window
To determine the perfect intercourse timing it”s important to identify a couple”s fertility window. Understanding the signs of pre-ovulation is the first step. There are several ways to do this.
A normal menstrual cycle runs from 28 to 32 days and ovulation can occur anytime between day 11 and day 21. It”s important to note that all women have different cycles and this is just an average.
There are many different online ovulation calculators available to help women determine their ovulation window.
Basal Body Temperature Measurements
Following ovulation the body will release progesterone. This hormone helps to supply blood to the uterus and supports pregnancy. One of the side effects of elevated progesterone levels is an increase in body temperature. This increase in body temperature will be maintained until menstruation begins, and then it will return to the normal base level.
By charting basal body temperature it is possible to pinpoint when ovulation occurs. This may take some practice over several cycles to get accurate. However, once determined, this is a reliable way to determine the female fertility window.
The Cervical Mucus Method
The appearance and consistency of cervical mucus is a strong indicator of when ovulation will occur. During the fertile phase, the cervix produces a lot more mucus to help transport sperm to the uterus. This is often runny and noticeable when wiping with clean toilet paper.
Excess mucus secretion is not complete proof of ovulation. However, in combination with other measurements, such as basal body temperature changes, this can be a good indicator.
Home Urine Test
There are many different products on the market designed to indicate to women when they are most fertile. These test strips work similar to pregnancy tests. They measure hormone levels in urine. Specifically, the tests measure the level of luteinising hormone (LH).
Towards to the end of the first half of the cycle, LH levels sharply rise and this triggers ovulation. Knowing when LH concentrations peak can determine the perfect intercourse timing. Test strips typically have two strips; one is the control and the other will indicate the presence of LH. When the intensity of both the lines is similar, fertility is high.
It is important to recognise that ovulation predictor kits will vary depending on the manufacturer. Therefore, it”s important to carefully follow the instructions to get accurate results. Several test strips may need to be used over consecutive days to identify the fertility window.
There are many different smartphone apps available on Androids and iPhones designed specifically to help women tract their cycles. Many of these apps are free and come with additional features when purchasing premium versions. Most apps also track a range of health measures, such as physical and emotional well-being, weight gain or loss, and other variables.
It is possible to set reminders to alert users of their most fertile days. Some apps are better than others, so it is important to do your research and read the reviews.
When To Have Intercourse
The perfect intercourse timing when trying to start a family includes the night before the expected ovulation day, again on the morning of ovulation day, again at the night of ovulation, and a fourth time on the morning after ovulation day.
Frequent intercourse during this fertility window will ensure that there is plenty of sperm in the cervix. This will help to maximise the chances of fertilisation.
It is important for the male to abstain from ejaculation for three days prior to the fertility window. This will help to elevated sperm concentrations. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also important to improve reproductive health for both men and women. This includes a balanced diet, plenty of sleep and exercise, and minimising stress.
Improve your fertility with micronutrients
Several micronutrients such as vitamins, vitaminoids, amino acids and trace elements have proven themselves effective in improving sperm quantity, mobility and shape. This directly translates into better overall sperm quality and therefore a higher chance of pregnancy.
A natural food supplementation therapy for men is:
- relatively inexpensive
- effective after three to six months
- able to increase sperm motility by up to 23%, ejaculate volume by up to 33% and sperm count by up to 215%1 “Imhof, Martin et al., “Improvement of sperm quality after micronutritient supplementation”, e-SPEN, the European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, Epub published ahead of print.”
- without side effects
For those reasons, male fertility food supplements are most definitely recommended as the first step in the treatment of oligospermia and asthenospermia.
Also men who have not yet taken a semen analysis test will benefit from supplementing micronutrients to ensure they are able to deliver high-quality semen.
There are no contraindications or side effects to this form of natural “sperm boosting”.
An excellent and detailed overview of many studies can be found in Steven Sinclair’s Male Infertility: Nutritional and Environmental Considerations.
A considerable range of male fertility supplements available on the UK market.
However, the products differ widely in price and composition. Menfertility.org has compared 10 of them in terms of value for money and the nutrients they provide.
The most effective male fertility nutrients
A multitude of studies has shown that highly dosed nutrients have potentially significant impact on overall sperm quality.
Another amino acid L-carnitine has been found to significantly improve sperm concentration (count) and motility over a relatively short period of only 8 weeks4 “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12568837“ 5 “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8085668“.
Selenium in combination with vitamin E has been found to improve motility9 “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21403799“ 10 “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12623744“ 11 “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8862739“.
Nutrients must be applied permanently
Sperm cells take 11 weeks to mature in the testicles. Only then they are ready for ejaculation.
If you adjust your diet today it will thus take three months for the better sperm to be ready for fertilisation.
You must therefore keep the diet or supplement on an ongoing basis – ideally until your partner is pregnant or you decide for a different treatment.
All of the male fertility supplements in our great test include several of these nutrients at once, albeit at a lower dose. This is a cost-effective and convenient way making this type of fertility therapy affordable and requiring taking only one all-in-one supplement instead of many.
To find out more about the effects of the individual nutrients and how the various supplements compare, please read menfertility.org’s male fertility supplement review.
The top male fertility supplements
Dr. Jones is an experienced consultant in assisted reproduction.
He has worked as a Fertility specialist at Kingston Hospital Assisted Conception and nearly 10 years experience of working in Obstetrics and Gynaecology across hospitals in the UK.
He completed his Masters in Assisted Reproduction Technology and then his PhD, from Imperial College London. Dr. Jones main areas of interest are Single Embryo Transfer, Endometriosis, PCOS and Implantation failure in IVF patients. He is a member of the British Fertility Society and an associate member of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
- 1“Imhof, Martin et al., “Improvement of sperm quality after micronutritient supplementation”, e-SPEN, the European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, Epub published ahead of print.”