Women’s bodies have long been veiled under much mystery and secrecy. Menstruation, in particular, has lived mostly just in our bodies, hidden from the world to see. Knowing how your menstrual cycle works is a wonderful first step on your conception journey and in understanding your fertility patterns. As the research expands into fertility science, the information we share will be that much more supportive of getting pregnant.

Working hand in hand with your cycle are other factors that impact fertility including your age, lifestyle, and medical conditions. When you understand your body with its many kinks, you can better work with it to tune into your fertility. It truly need not be a mystery!

Understanding the Menstrual Cycle

When considering family planning, thinking about how many days of high fertility before peak ovulation is often top of mind. Whether you’re trying to conceive or are looking at ovulation tracking as contraception, learning the difference between peak and high fertility can help. Together your high and peak fertile days make the time you are at your most fertile.

Peak and high fertility are two notable periods in your menstrual cycle that can make all the difference to your reproductive planning. However, they are not the only phases. Before we get into their roles in conception, it is necessary to review your cycle overall.

The first day of your cycle begins when you start bleeding on your period. Here your hormones are at their lowest levels, beginning follicle production on your ovary’s surface. As the follicles grow, this triggers the release of the hormone estrogen. This happens three to four days pre-ovulation. You’ve reached your fertile window. If you are conceiving, well, it’s baby-making time!

During this time, your estrogen levels are at their highest. They reach their peak about four or five days after the initial release of the hormone estrogen. After the peak, an unfertilized egg is released, the inner uterine lining begins to shed, and you get your period.

What Is High Fertility?

High fertility is the point when your estrogen levels rise after follicle production begins. This is also the start of your most fertile time which lasts for at least 4-5 days until ovulation. Once your estrogen hormone levels reach their peak, you officially enter ovulation.

What Is Peak Fertility?

The day before you ovulate, your body experiences a charge in luteinizing hormone (LH). LH levels start climbing 24-36 hours before ovulation and surge around 8-20 hours before. This LH upsurge coincides with the growth of your dominant egg, increasing the chance of sperm reaching it. This day is when you have the highest chance of getting pregnant.

Ovulation happens after your LH upsurge. During ovulation, there is a release of progesterone, an essential hormone in making your uterus a fertile home. However, since sperm can survive for days in your reproductive system, you don’t need to wait until ovulation to conceive. You can make the most of your fertile period so that when your mature releases during ovulation, more workers are dedicated to conception.

Peak Fertility Vs High Fertility

The fundamental differences between high and peak fertility are when they occur and the types of hormones that are dominant at each stage. Your high fertility phase is usually 4-5 days before ovulation and it begins when your estrogen levels go up. Peak fertility happens in the 24-36 hours before you ovulate and coincides with a rise in LH levels. This means you have the highest chance of getting pregnant in the last bit of your fertile window, about one day to a day and a half in each cycle.

Factors Affecting Fertility Patterns

These time periods are based on studies, however, this varies from person to person based on individual fertility patterns. Age is an example of these factors. As women do not make new eggs in their lives, the number of eggs they have decreases as they grow older. In their mid-late 30s, this decrease happens increasingly, making it harder to fall pregnant. Women’s quality of eggs that can get fertilized also goes down in their late 30s.

Lifestyle factors including smoking habits, alcohol, weight, drugs, caffeine, and stress also impact fertility. How you’ve lived in the past and your current lifestyle both factor into your fertility patterns. These are also some of the main things to avoid during pregnancy for the health of your fetus.

There are also existing medical conditions that impact women’s fertility. These include endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid disease, etc. When family planning, managing your health and any medical conditions can help you make more informed decisions. You can work with medical professionals to increase your chances of conceiving.

The Importance Of Family Planning

Naturally, gaining insight into when you are at your most fertile is key knowledge when thinking about family planning. If you’re trying to add a little one to the family, your fertile window is the best time to get down to it. There is an 8% chance of getting pregnant just on your peak fertility day and a 33% and 27% chance on the two days before that, respectively.

This information can come in handy whether you’re going the natural route or considering assisted processes like artificial insemination.

To discover when your fertile window is you can use various techniques including:

  • Ovulation predictor kits that gauge your LH levels. However, this may not work if you have hormonal conditions like PCOS which severely alter your hormone levels.
  • Cycle-tracking apps can help you stay on top of your menstrual cycle. They can tell you which phase of your cycle you’re in. Some also have features to support conception. The downside is that they cannot measure and factor in your hormone levels. This can make them imprecise.
  • Cervical mucus monitoring is a tricky one, but it is an option. With high estrogen levels, your cervical mucus changes. Observe this change in your body and you could use it to determine when you’re ovulating.