Being aware of your menstrual cycle and when you’re most fertile is key when you’re trying to get pregnant.
Knowing when you’re most fertile is key when you’re trying to get pregnant. And being aware of your menstrual cycle and the changes that happen in your body during your cycle can help you do just that.
Most menstrual cycles last about 28 days. But every menstrual cycle has two parts: before ovulation and after. You are most fertile and most likely to get pregnant two to three days before ovulation and 12 to 24 hours after ovulation.
Because there are no outward changes to signal that ovulation has occurred, the first part of the menstrual cycle is the hardest to track. However, there are three methods that may help you keep track of your fertility.
Basal body temperature is your at-rest temperature as soon as you awake in the morning. This temperature rises slightly with ovulation, so recording this temperature daily for several months will help you predict when you’ll be most fertile.
Usually this temperature rises only slightly during ovulation, anywhere from 0.4 to 0.8 degrees. You can use a basal body thermometer to detect this change. (Most pharmacies sell them for around $10.) Then plot your daily temperature on a line graph. Reoccurring spikes on the graph usually indicate ovulation.
The calendar method involves keeping a written record of each menstrual cycle on a calendar. Here’s how it works:
The calendar method should be used with other tracking methods, especially if your cycles are not always the same length.
The cervical mucus method involves being aware of the changes in your vaginal discharge throughout the month. The hormones that control the menstrual cycle also change the kind and amount of discharge, or mucus, you have before and during ovulation. Right after your period, there are usually a few “dry” days when no mucus is present. As the egg matures, mucus increases in the vagina and is white or yellow and cloudy and sticky. The greatest amount of mucus appears just before ovulation. During these "wet days" it becomes clear and slippery. This is when you are most fertile. About four days after the wet days begin, the mucus changes again. There will be much less, and it becomes sticky and cloudy. You might have a few more dry days before your period returns. Describe changes in your mucus on a calendar. Label the days “Sticky,” “Dry” or “Wet.” You are most fertile at the first sign of wetness after your period, or a day or two before wetness begins. This method is not reliable for all women, so pair it with another fertility awareness method. Women who are breastfeeding, have vaginitis or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or have had surgery on the cervix should not rely on this method.
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This is not intended to be medical advice. Everybody is different so please make sure to consult your physician if you're having issues. Do not delay or refrain from seeking professional medical advice from your physician because of something you have read on this site.
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