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Doctors on call;Preventing unwanted pregnancies

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Measuring, recording and planning the timing of ovulation is one of most efficient methods of preventing a pregnancy or to start a family. The combination of methods such as changes in cervical fluid, temperature and tracking your periods is an effective way to determine when ovulation occurs.

Birth control pills are a common solution to prevent pregnancy, but they place significant risk to develop chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease, depression and obesity.

Worldwide pregnancy associations estimate that ovulation occurs anywhere between 11-21 days since the last menstrual period, or 12-16 days from when you expect the next menstrual period to start.

What are the signs of ovulation?

The signs of ovulation can be any of the following, although many women may only notice one or two of these:
• Change in cervical fluid
• Change in cervical position and cervical firmness
• Brief twinge of pain or dull ache that is felt on one side of the abdomen
• Light spotting
• Increase in sex drive
• Elevated level of the luteinising hormone
• Body temperature chart that shows a consistent change
•Breast tenderness
• Abdominal bloating
• Heightened sense of vision, smell or taste

Do women ovulate on the 14th day?
This is a myth. Ovulation occurs at different times depending on the woman and the regularity of her cycle. The “14th day” thinking appears to come from either taking the average of when all women ovulate or from someone just dividing the 28-day cycle in half.

This is not an accurate way to calculate ovulation, because many women do not ovulate on the 14th day of their cycle.

How many days am I really fertile?
During the time of ovulation, an egg is available to be fertilised for only about 12-24 hours. A male’s sperm can live in the body for 3-5 days and then the egg is available for one day. Your most fertile time is considered to be about 5-7 days.

Can I get pregnant during my period?
Pregnancy can occur from intercourse that takes place during a period. Sperm can live in the body for up to five days, and if a woman ovulates soon after her period, then conception could take place during a period.

Can a woman ovulate more than once during each cycle?

A woman cannot ovulate more than once during a cycle. Multiple ovulations can occur when two or more eggs are released in a single cycle. Both eggs are released during one 24-hour period and are responsible for the birth of fraternal twins.

Can I ovulate without having a period?

It is possible for a woman to get pregnant without having periods as a woman releases an egg 12-16 days before her expected period.
Women who are not menstruating due to a certain condition (low body weight, breastfeeding, ect) risk the chance of ovulating at any point. For those who want to conceive, the lack of periods could make it more difficult to know the timing of ovulation.

Can I have a period and still not have ovulated?

Having a period does not necessarily mean that ovulation has taken place. Some women can experience some bleeding which is mistaken for a period, but it is actually not a true period.
Consult with a healthcare professional to learn how to track your ovulatory cycle to prevent pregnancy or to safely start a family.

This is a reader directed column. This week’s topic was selected from an email inquiry.

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