When a couple comes across infertility issues, they would leave no stone unturned to maximize the chances of pregnancy, whether they try for natural or assisted reproduction. One of the simplest tricks is to time it right- taking a chance at conception when the woman is going through her “fertile window”. Gynecologists recommend ovulation tracking as a primary line of treatment for infertility because it is one measure which will be effective if the couple is just being wrong with the timing, something that happens with many.

However, it is important to know that ovulation tracking is not totally a fool proof measure because of various reasons. While some couples would benefit from it, the measure could be a waste of time for others. Therefore, couples can apply ovulation tracking as a supportive technique but should not rely entirely on it and neither should they take stress if it does not seem to have any positive impact on the outcome of the attempts to conceive.

Ovulation Tracking: What to expect?

As the name suggests, ovulation tracking involves the process of studying the growth of the follicle to get to know the exact timing of ovulation so that the couple can time intercourse accordingly for successful conception. This is done with the help of vaginal ultrasound scans so that ovulation is pinpointed in a precise manner.

A woman’s menstrual cycle constitutes of three distinct phases- follicular phase, ovulatory phase and luteal phase. The menstrual cycle begins with the follicular phase, when the follicles (which contain eggs) develop in the ovaries. The phase lasts for 10 to 14 days on an average, culminating with the release of ripened egg(s) from the ovary, which marks the beginning of the ovulatory phase. This period of 12 to 24 hours is the time when the egg is ready for fertilization, referred to as the “fertile window”, when chance of conception are the highest if it meets the sperm. Finally comes the luteal phase, which involves release of progesterone, a hormone which facilitates implantation of fertilized egg in the uterus. On the other hand, if the egg is not fertilized, it will be shed along with menstrual bleeding at the end of the menstrual cycle.

Is ovulation tracking useful for those planning a pregnancy?

Ovulation tracking can be considered useful as it helps a woman be aware of the time of peak fertility so that the couple can time intercourse accordingly. The likelihood of pregnancy is high during this period; statistically speaking, she can conceive if she tries two days before the release of egg and up to two days after ovulation. This is so because the life span of egg is 12 to 24 hours while that of the sperm is up to 5 days. Technically, even if a woman has sex a few days prior to/after ovulation, she can still become pregnant because a live sperm would be available for the mature egg at the time of ovulation. For this reason, being aware of the timing of ovulation can be useful.

On the other hand, the utility of ovulation tracking is questionable as it cannot be completely relied upon. The fact is that human reproduction is not highly efficient and its success rate is only 10% per cycle even if all the parameters of conception have been perfectly met. Depending totally on ovulation tracking for the ensuring a successful attempt means that the couple is expecting a little too much and they may end up being highly disappointed. It can be stressful too as inability to conceive despite careful scrutiny of the cycle puts them under a strain that they might have done something wrong. Also, it may take toll on their relationship as sex (which becomes more of a baby-making process rather than a pleasurable activity) is likely to be mechanical rather than natural.

Overall, the role of ovulation tracking in planning pregnancy can be seen as a supportive one and not as a sure shot method to ensure a positive outcome. Women can attempt a cycle or two of the same so that they can learn to correlate the findings with the physical symptoms of ovulation such as abdominal pain and changes in cervical mucus. Moreover, the cost of scans and the stress it exerts on the couple would not be justified if the doctor recommends ovulation tracking cycle after cycle.

Gaudium IVF is a leading IVF Centre in Delhi, India and is acclaimed for high standards of treatment and services it offers to the patient. The clinic not only excels in advanced Assisted Reproductive Techniques but also ensures solutions for all kinds of gynecological complications.

Visit Gaudium IVF Centre or free second opinion from Dr Manika Khanna, one of the top infertility specialists in India