Fertility and your menstrual cycle
When month after month your baby-making efforts prove futile, it may be time to consider what is going wrong. On the other hand, if you’re the type of person who’s not too fond of waiting, it might be wise to know when it’s most opportune to try for baby… and score. It is here that tracking your most fertile period comes to play. This article will show you how.
What happens during my menstrual cycle?
Menstrual periods differ from woman to woman and from month to month. During menstruation (when you are on your period), your body sheds the lining of the uterus. Having a regular menstrual cycle is an important indication of your body working normally. Your menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of your period to the first day of the following one. Whilst the average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, cycles can range from 21 to 35 days in adult women. Each month, your cycle prepares your body for pregnancy.
How does ovulation work?
Hormones control your cycle. Levels of estrogen start to rise in the first half of the cycle, thickening the lining of your womb whilst an egg in one of the ovaries starts to mature. During an average 28-day cycle, the egg leaves the ovary on day 14. This is when your body is ovulating. The egg travels through the fallopian tube to your uterus. During this time, hormone levels rise to prepare the uterine lining for pregnancy.
If your cycle is shorter than 28 days, you may ovulate before day 14; if on the other hand, your cycle is longer, then you may be ovulating after day 14.
How can I know when I am the most fertile?
There’s no one answer that can easily determine on which day you are most fertile but knowing your body, and feeling in sync with it is key here. There are a number of indicators which can assist you in determining whether you are fertile or not.
Keeping track of your menstrual cycle is imperative but if your cycle is irregular, you may need to rely on other methods.
Stay alert for the signs
Your body will react to ovulation. Be it in the form of pain or cramps in the lower abdominal area or a change in cervical mucus, your body sends little messages indicating ovulation. You can also get to know your cervix better by examining yourself regularly. The cervix is placed between the vagina and uterus. At the start of the cycle, your cervix is closed, low, and hard; close to ovulation it starts to soften, pulls back, and opens slightly to allow sperm to pass through. Keeping a chart of its consistency can help you determine if you’re ovulating or not.
Monitor your temperature
Your basal body temperature (BBT) changes throughout your cycle in accordance with hormone fluctuations. At the start of the month your BBT is lower than the second half of the month, when ovulation would have taken place. BBT is taken with a special thermometer first thing in the morning when you’re still in bed and before starting your day.
Are there tools to help me monitor my fertility?
Various apps exist to help you track your cycle which also offer indications of your most fertile period. A more reliable option, Ovulation Predictor Kits are also widely available on the market. Ovulation kits are able to identify ovulation 12 to 24 hours in advance, giving you ample time to get to the baby-making part. Ovulation Predictor Kits are similar to Pregnancy Tests; you simply pee on a stick and it will let you know if you’re ovulating or not. More precise tools which also give you a wider fertile time window are also available.
When should I have sex to conceive?
Whilst you can have sex any time, there’s nothing wrong with taking it up a notch around ovulation day. You are most likely to get pregnant if you have unprotected sex three days before ovulation or on the day of ovulation. So, make the most of it, and good luck!