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Pregnancy Planning: What you should know about Ovulation tracking!!

Pregnancy Planning: What you should know about Ovulation tracking!!
Dr. Anu Joseph, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynecology,
Specialist in Fetal Medicine and High Risk Pregnancy,
Kauvery hospitals, Bangalore.
Welcome to the roller coaster drive called fertility. Some find it as smooth a process as it could be and some struggle with it. It comes with a bundle of anxiety, advices, questions and of course, in between all that: confusions. Let’s try and allay some, if not all, questions about ovulation tracking.
But before we begin, I would want to make sure, we have started right. The couple wishing to conceive should be physically and mentally prepared for going through the journey of pregnancy, and child bearing. It ideally should be a choice and not a compulsion. There should be a basic check for both the partners to rule out common diseases like anaemia, thyroid issues, diabetes etc. Couple should be in good health, so one should opt for healthy daily routine: regular food, moderate exercise, weight loss if needed, and avoiding habit forming substances. Prenatal vitamin supplementation: Folic Acid should be started well before to avoid health concerns of the unborn child. Additional tests like ultrasound may be asked for in women with menstrual irregularities or any similar concerns.
Most couple conceive by having regular intercourse, without any difficulties and hence do not need to track the ideal time to try. However, if a couple has been having unprotected regular intercourse for about 6-12months, and still unable to conceive, they need to track the ovulation pattern, for better success at conceiving.
Ovulation is the process of release of a mature egg for ovary. Typically, this happens mid cycle. And the chances of conception are best when the couple has intercourse around this time. Hence tracking ovulation is needed when planning for pregnancy. How do we do that?
In women with regular 28–30-day cycle, one can use Calendar Method. It means, you note down the start of cycle as Day-1 on calendar, follow through to day-10, have alternate day intercourse from day 10 to day 17, and attempt pregnancy. There are couple of Apps available on mobile which also helps track the same. However, the concern being they offer a very narrow range of dates to attempt a trial, which often fails to achieve results. Either of these methods: Calendar or App based is not appropriate for women with irregular cycle.

What else can be done then?

Then comes the testing methods. One of the easiest being LH / Ovulation test kits. This is a urine hormone monitoring test kit( similar to the pregnancy test kit) which can be used to track the presence of the ovulatory hormone Luteinising Hormone in one’s system. The testing kit is commercially available with various brands. The testing dates varies according to the cycle duration and regularity. In women with 28-30 day cycle, the test is advised to be done continuously between day 10-day 17 using 3 drops of urine at noon, until the test shows two lines. From the day the test turns Positive, the couple is expected to have intercourse for next three consecutive days. The advantage of this test over Calendar Method is that it offers a narrow, but more accurate window for trying, and also acts as a screening for ovulation. If the test remains negative through out the 7-8 days of testing over couple of months, it could indicate troubles with ovulation, and that’s the cue for the couple to reach out to a OBGyn or Fertility Specialist.
Once the couple is not successful after trying for about 6months to 1year, in couple belonging to age higher than 35, women with irregular cycles, or LH test repeatedly showing non-ovulation, ovulation is tracked using ultrasound, which is the most accurate way to test for it. This may be done with or without medication for Ovulation Induction. This method of ovulation tracking is called Follicular imaging and Timed Intercourse. For further information or planned pregnancy, you are welcome to visit us at hospital.
Wishing you a happy pregnancy, Signing off for now.

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