If you’re anything like much of the rest of the female population in the United States, you’ve probably spent most of your life trying to prevent pregnancy. Condoms, contraceptives, and abstinence are all popular ways women stave off motherhood until they feel they and their partner are truly ready. However, when you finally reach that stage in life where you feel stable and ready to raise a little one, you might find that getting pregnant is more difficult than you expected. It’s not always as simple as taking off the condom or stopping a contraceptive (though for some women, it works on the first try). You might try many times and never become pregnant. Though you should certainly speak with your doctor about your fertility if it seems hopeless, you also need to be conscious of your ovulation.

Pregnancy is most likely to happen during your week of ovulation. It’s true that your egg can become fertilized at any time during your cycle, but during ovulation the egg is pushed down the fallopian tube and is waiting to be fertilized. This happens approximately 14 days after the beginning of your period in the menstrual cycle. If you’re trying to make sure you conceive right on the day of ovulation, you can buy a testing kit that allows you to see when ovulation has begun. Like menstruation, ovulation varies between some women, and this variation depends mainly on the length of your menstrual cycle. If you have a 27-day cycle, ovulation will happen earlier than a woman with a 32-day cycle.

If you’re unsure about when you ovulate and you don’t have access to a testing kit, speak with your doctor or gynecologist. He or she will help you determine the best days in the cycle for conception.

Pregnancy is a gamble. An adult could go years without contraception in an attempt to conceive and never become pregnant, while a teenager could make the mistake of not using a condom once and become a mom. If you are trying to conceive, work with your body to make fertilization as easy as possible. If you’re still having trouble, you should consult your doctor, because you might have problems with your fertility and might require treatment. Until then, keep a close eye on the calendar and as long as there are no other issues, you’ll be preparing for the arrival of baby in no time.

Source: C.M. Small et al: Menstrual Cycle Variability and the Likelihood of Achieving Pregnancy. Reviews on Environmental Health Volume 24 Issue 10 May 2010