For couples trying to conceive timing can be everything!
Here are 4 ways to help you determine your fertile window.
1. Cycle Monitoring
In my practice I always encourage women to track their menstrual cycle either using an online app (ex. Fertility Friend, Flo Period and Ovulation Tracker) or by paper. Tracking your menstrual cycle can provide so much insight into your hormones, is low cost, helps couples with the best timing for intercourse and can help your practitioner uncover any causes of infertility or sub-fertility.
Cycle monitoring is one of the easiest ways to track your fertile window, especially if you have a regular and predictable period.
Ovulation happens 12 to 14 days before your expected period. The fertile window is approximately 5 days before ovulation and the day of ovulation itself.
Remember day 1 of the menstrual cycle is the first day of menstrual bleeding.
2. Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
Basal Body Temperature is the temperature of your body taken first thing in the morning upon waking. But how does this relate to fertility?
The BBT rises after ovulation by 0.4 to 0.8 degrees F due to the increase in production of the hormone progesterone. Due to the continued production of progesterone, generally this temperature rise will remain for 10 to 14 days after ovulation.
Tracking this information can be helpful, because it can tell you if ovulation has occurred, and provides very useful information about the health of your luteal phase/2nd half of your menstrual cycle (post ovulation). While tracking your BBT over multiple cycles, the goal would be to see a consistent pattern that can help predict your fertile window and when ovulation most likely will happen for you.
Tips for taking your BBT
- Take it right upon waking (i.e. stay in bed and take your temperature)
- Same time every day
- Use a BBT thermometer (can be purchased from your local pharmacy)
3. Cervical Mucous
The body naturally releases different types of cervical mucous during the menstrual cycle. Mucous that is thicker, stretchy and clear (looks like egg white) is the mucous that is produced when a woman is most fertile. This is the time when you want to ensure you have intercourse. The fertile mucous actually makes it easier for the sperm to travel through the female reproductive tract.
4. Ovulation Prediction Tests/Kits (OPK’s)
Just before ovulation occurs (24 to 32 hours before) there is an increase in a hormone called Luteinizing Hormone (LH). Ovulation Prediction Tests check for this surge in hormone in the urine. Once a positive test is obtained, it is best to time intercourse on the same day.
For a typical 28 days cycle you can begin using the test strips around day 10 and keep using them until you get a positive. If you have a shorter cycle then you can start using them earlier based or if you have a longer cycle you can start to use them a few days later in the cycle.
For some woman as they track their signs of fertility, they begin to realize they may be having anovulatory cycles (cycles without ovulation). If you are struggling to determine your signs of fertility I highly recommend you work with a practitioner who can help determine the cause of your anovulation and support you in your fertility journey.
Need support in your fertility journey?
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