When couples look for tips for conceiving, many pieces of advice that they find tend to be about how to calculate and track ovulation. Ovulation, the monthly process by which an egg is released from one of a woman’s ovaries to potentially be fertilized, is a cornerstone of family planning. Without a woman’s ovulated eggs, conception each month is simply not possible.

Unfortunately, misinformation about the ovulation process can make trying for a baby much more difficult than it needs to be. To help address these false ideas about ovulation, our team intends to answer the most common questions women tend to have about ovulation in the coming weeks. The following are just 3 questions you may have – and which we’re ready to answer for you!

Question 1: How can I find out when I’m ovulating?

Ovulation tracking and calculating admittedly takes a lot of work. This is because women often need to invest in multiple ovulation tracking strategies that will allow them to study and track their body and its monthly fertility cycle.

To calculate and track their ovulation dates, women can use the Calendar Method, the Basal Body Temperature Method, the Cervical Mucus Method, and even OTC tools. However, it’s typically advised that women use multiple methods in combination – not just one at a time – to track ovulation, as combining tracking methods provides a more complete picture of a fertility cycle, and allows women to identify their ovulation date more accurately. And the more accurate an ovulation date prediction can be, the better, as The American Pregnancy Association estimates that ovulation may occur anywhere between 11-21 days after the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period – or 12-16 days from when she expects her next menstrual period to start.

Question 2: But don’t women just ovulate 14th days after their period begins each month?

We wish! Unfortunately the idea that all women will ovulate 14 days after their period is based entirely on the average numbers taken when analyzing women’s’ menstrual cycles. In this scenario, women ovulate on the 14th day because the average fertility cycle (which lasts from day one of a woman’s period until the day before she begins her next period) is 28 days long. In reality, many women have shorter or longer cycles than 28 days – and since women also tend to ovulate on different days of their cycle from month to month, there is actually an entire window of opportunity where their body may ovulate.

Question 3: How long am I fertile after I ovulate?

This is a tricky question to answer, because a woman should technically plan on being fertile before she ovulates. Keep in mind that it takes sperm time to swim from the vagina to a woman’s fallopian tubes, where an egg will be fertilized and conception will occur. Then there’s the fact that an egg is really only viable for about a day after being released during ovulation. Because of these factors, and because sperm can live 3 to 5 days after sex, women are considered to be fertile 3 to 5 days before they ovulate – and maybe one or two days afterward, in the right circumstances.

These are just three examples of the questions we often hear regarding ovulation as hopeful couples look for tips for conceiving. Don’t worry if we didn’t answer your question just yet, though: more posts will be coming out to help answer the most common ovulation questions in the coming weeks! Stay tuned for information that will help you as you continue to try for a baby!