Getting the timing right: skyrocket your chances of conceiving by knowing exactly when to try each month.
You’ve spent most of your life avoiding falling pregnant but now that it’s time to do the opposite it’s proving much harder than expected.
One in six couples experience infertility and the causes can be complex and multifactorial but research suggests that one of the barriers to fertility may be that most couples don’t know exactly when they should be trying.
The fertile window is known as the window of time in which intercourse could result in conception. There is a maximum window of 5 days in each menstrual cycle where a woman could fall pregnant. This fertile window is widely believed to be mid-way through the cycle, or around day 14 since your last period. According to research, what most women don’t know is that the fertile window can actually occur much earlier than this or much later, especially if your cycle tends to be irregular. This may result in couples timing their attempts for the wrong part of the cycle, missing the fertile window completely and greatly reducing their chances of conceiving.
One solution to this is to have sex daily, or every second day. Both these methods ensure that intercourse occurs on at least some days of the fertile window. But not all of us have the time or the energy to have sex this often and may prefer to time our attempts a little more strategically.
If this is you, you may have already been to the chemist and bought some sort of ovulation predictor kit with a thermometer and/or test strips. While these can be helpful, research shows the most reliable method of predicting ovulation is actually by tracking your fertile mucous.
We are talking about the mucous that is produced by the cells of your cervix and can be felt as a sensation of moistness or wetness as it reaches your external parts. This mucous becomes more watery, clear or stretchy as you approach ovulation, alerting you to the imminent release of the egg. Then, it abruptly stops the day after the egg has been released, confirming that ovulation has occurred.
How to track your fertile mucous and identify your day of ovulation.
To track your fertility you must make a recording in the late afternoon or evening of each day. You can do this in a notebook or use an app (but remember the app will use averages to predict your fertility and is not a reliable indication of what is happening for you on any given day).
The key sign of ovulation is an increase and change in consistency of mucous. It becomes runnier, more fluid and more copious. Use your own words to record what you feel (in the notes section of the app) but commonly used words are: dry, sticky, slightly moist, moist, watery and slippery.
You may also notice another type of mucous that is sticky, tacky or creamy. This is non-fertile type mucous and you will notice a distinct difference between this and the wetter-feeling fertile mucous.
- Pay attention mainly to what you feel as you walk around (e.g. moist, dry, wet) and when you wipe after using the bathroom (i.e. does the paper slip or does it drag).
- You may also like record what you see on your underwear but it is not the most important sign – sensation is more reliable.
- Make your recording in the evening and mark down the most fertile sign you felt that day. For example, if you felt watery in the morning but moist in the afternoon record “watery” for that day.
When to time your attempts
Any day that mucous is present is a good day to try but the more moist, wet or slippery the mucous feels the better. You will get to know your own pattern and begin to recognize the 4-5 day lead up to ovulation for you. You can also try the day after ovulation – the day you notice the abrupt change from wet/moist to dry as the egg can survive up to 24hrs after being released.
If you are having trouble identifying your fertile window, understanding your cycle or just want more guidance see a fertility awareness teacher to help you get started or interpret recordings you have already made. It can be particularly tricky to identify the fertile window if you have very short, very long or irregular cycles.
Natural Fertility Teacher (TTNFE)
Author of The PCOS Solution
Specialing in Natural Fertility
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