Though it's only been six months, it's hard to remember what life was like before I gave a damn when I ovulate. It used to be that I couldn't have cared less. To be honest, the whole thing grossed me out a bit. Not so much anymore.
There are all kinds of ways to do conception math:
1) Ovulating for Dummies--so, if your cycle is 4 weeks, in theory you should ovulate approximately two weeks after the first day after your period. this is the most simple version of conception math, and at the end of the four weeks you take a pregnancy test. Unfortunately, this is kindof like when a car says it gets 32 miles per gallon...it's a nice theory, but don't expect to drive cross country on a tank of gas.
2)Ovulation Calculators--if you go to whattoexpect.com (my personal favorite) or pregnology.com or any other pregnancy related website, you can use their wierd math calculators that give you a window during which you might ovulate. The problem with that is that it gives you a very vague window based on what most people's bodies do. My body hasn't really acted normally in months.
3) OPK (Ovulation Prediction Kits)--an OPK, in theory, tests the amount of LH in your system. LH is a hormone that "surges" (this is the popular TTC word) right before ovulation. The OPK looks exactly like a home pregnancy test, but you can't just SEE a second line. The second line has to be DARKER than the first in order for the test to be positive. Once it's positive, you (in theory) will be ovulating within the next 48 hours. Here's the issue...not everyone gets the same levels of LH surges, and so some people NEVER get a positive OPK. I went through three cycles of OPKs with no positive results, but I know I ovulated based on options 4 and 5 coming up. OPKs are also very expensive. I use internet cheapies, and they're still a dollar a day. Yes, I know I just said they didn't work well for me...that doesn't mean that I want to give up on them...just in case.
4) Temping--this is a fun one. In theory, something about the hormone balace causes your basal body temperature to be cooler (by 1/2-1 degree) before ovulation than after ovulation. This means, when your BBT rises significantly, you have ovulated. Yay. Here's the procedure: you have to get at LEAST three hours sleep before taking your temperature, you have to take your temperature at the same time every day (meaning set the alarm on Saturday morning), and you can't get out of bed, talk, eat, or drink before taking your temps. It's a pain in the ass. Seriously. It is, however, pretty effective.
5) The cervix--this is the TMI factor. The cervix does all kinds of interesting things during each cycle. It's position, texture, opening, and mucus consistancy and color all tell part of the story of your body. I won't get into too much of the details here, but feel free to google cervix and ovulation together.
So here's how conception math works: You need to know when you ovulate. Think of this as the constant. In addition, you need to BD (stands for "Baby Dance" in TTC message board lingo, which means sex. I don't know why they don't just say sex. Me having sex looks absolutely nothing like dancing.) in (estimated!) the three days before and during said ovulation. The BDing is somewhat of the variable, as, while the egg can only really survive for a few hours after ovulation (seriously!!), the sperm can hang out up in there for hours and days. It's a good idea to build up a nice wall-o-sperm for when the egg finally graces us with her presence. The problem is, if you don't know when ovulation is, you don't know when to BD, and then you lose the sperm. So you have to take the OPKs, and the temping, and the calculators, and the cervical mucus, and you have to try to put all that nonsense together somehow and figure out when the hell you're supposed to have sex during all of this.
Is there partial credit on this test??