Signs of ovulation
Once you've got your head round your menstrual cycle, then there are ways of trying to identify the signs of ovulation, which indicate your most fertile time of month.
Cervical mucus changes
So sperm needs to meet egg after ovulation has taken place. But how do you know exactly when that is? How long is a piece of string? Or, more pertinently, how long is a strand of your cervical mucus, since your vaginal secretions are one of the key signs of ovulation.
The cervical mucus produced just before ovulation is sometimes known as egg white cervical mucus (EWCM) because you may be able to stretch an unbroken strand between your fingers and its consistency is similar to raw egg whites. (If you've got raw egg phobia, this won't be the method for you.)
• Ovulation calculator
• How long does it take to get pregnant
• Coming off the pill
• Trying to conceive
• Best time to conceive
• Polycystic ovary syndrome
By now you're probably thinking, I want a baby, not an intimate acquaintance with my cervical mucus and an enhanced German vocabulary, but 'middle pain' is an abdominal pain some women experience as ovulation approaches. An important sign of ovulation, but remember, not all women get it.
Say what? Believe it or not, the pattern your saliva dries in indicates whether you're about to ovulate. You'll need to buy a salivary OPK - basically a microscope - to detect if your saliva dries in a fern-like pattern.
Basal body temperature
Your basal body temperature is your temperature when you wake after at least three hours' sleep. It dips slightly before ovulation and rises afterwards, so charting it is another way of building up a picture of the most fertile phase of your menstrual cycle.
Ovulation predictor kits
If this all sounds like too much hard work, then you can buy ovulation predictor kits (OPKs), which involve testing your urine on specific days in your cycle to detect luteinising hormone, which triggers ovulation.
A downside is their cost and another is that they're not necessarily accurate if you have certain health issues, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, that might affect your fertility.
The jury is out on whether the usefulness of home pregnancy tests is outweighed by the grief they cause. It's certainly a topic for, erm, lively discussion on the Conception Talk forum.
But for some women OPKs work and reduce the hassle element of the whole trying-to-conceive conundrum.
Sex and conception
There are lots of myths about baby-making sex (positions, timing, determining the baby's gender) but the expert advice is to have sex two to three times a week if you're trying to conceive because sperm can survive for up to seven days in the womb and fallopian tubes. Regular sex ensures there will always be some sperm around to meet the egg when you ovulate and the egg is released.
Where, when and how don't matter - the possibilities are endless (well, possibly not if you're TTC and already have children).
The closer the sperm get to the entrance to your womb (cervix) the better, so we're talking, ahem, deep penetration - missionary, all fours (you get the idea).
Some mums want to give gravity a helping hand and swear by doing a handstand after sex, or tucking a pillow under their bottom to tilt their pelvis upwards after sex (that or they've just read bits of the Karma Sutra we missed).
If it takes a while for you to conceive, you're both going to need some variety (of positions and locations) to stop sex becoming another daily chore after loading the dishwasher and double-locking the front door.
What Mumsnetters say about having sex because you're trying to conceive
- To be honest, I am getting fed up of, well, you know, the necessary and so is my husband. It has become a bit of a chore and it seems we are only doing it for one reason now. Sometimes I have to force my womanly charms on him, but a lot of the time he is not up for it and is probably settled watching telly. stinkfly
- Do what's best for you. Sex everyday for some people is just a pain. I would rather have sex when I want and have good sex and take a couple of months longer to conceive than 'force' myself to have sex for the sake of a baby! takemyMILoffmyhands
- Keeping sex fun when you are timing it on days 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20 of your cycle every month for years on end is never going to be easy, spontaneous or fun! Littlefish
Choosing the sex of your baby
The fpa says there's "no reliable scientific evidence to support claims made for choosing the sex of the baby, such as when you have sex, sexual positions or diet". So myths such as have sex in the afternoon for girls and morning for boys, or being a vegetarian means you're more likely to have a girl, are just that - myths.