Your best chances of conception begin with understanding your own cycle and your innate wisdom to create the perfect environment for maintaining pregnancy. Most women find this process of getting intimate with their cycles empowering, as they begin to understand the miracles of being a woman.
Listening and observing your woman’s wisdom
Your body has amazing ways of letting you know when ovulation is approaching or has occurred. Below are three easy ways of knowing your fertility: cervical mucus changes, basal body temperature and calendar charting.
Monitoring your mucus
According to hormonal changes, the cervix produces different types of mucus at different times of your cycle. The type of mucus tells you when you are fertile as some types of mucus are easier for sperm to travel through to reach the female egg than others.
Following your menstrual bleed you may notice very little mucus or none at all (infertile dry days). Following this, you may first notice thick, clumpy, opaque or creamy white coloured mucus, which is difficult for sperm to travel through. As you approach ovulation this sticky mucus will change into a wet, clear mucus, which may resemble raw egg white. This stretchy, elastic type mucus makes the sperm’s journey to the egg very easy. When you see this type of mucus you know that you have entered your most fertile days of your cycle.
Checking your cervical mucus is easiest when you go to the toilet by using clean fingers to check for mucus at the opening of the vagina. By recording your daily mucus observations you will start to notice your own cyclic patterns in relation to your fertile and infertile days.
Taking your temperature
The basal body temperature can tell you when you have ovulated. Typically your temperature will drop slightly just prior to ovulation and then will rise by 0.1°C – 0.5°C when ovulation occurs and you are at your most fertile. After three consecutive temperature readings that are higher than the previous 6 days by 0.1°C, ovulation is complete and you are in the post-ovulatory (infertile) phase. If ovulation does not occur then your temperature will not rise.
Basal body temperature charting involves taking your temperature first thing every morning before you get out of bed or make any movement and at the same time every morning. It is useful to have your thermometer (an ovulation thermometer available from most chemists is best) by your bed ready to go before you go to sleep at night. Your temperature can change if you have a restless sleep or if you wake up early or later than normal or if you have a fever, so it’s important to make note of these factors if they occur as they may give an inaccurate reading.
Ovulation generally occurs 14 days before the start of your next menstrual period.
To know when you are likely to ovulate next, it’s important to know and record the following aspects of your cycle:
- The first day of your last menstrual period
- How many days in your entire cycle. Note that this will vary from woman to woman, however a normal cycle usually ranges from 21-35 days.
By combining the above three methods you will begin to know your cycle and when you are most fertile. You will also become aware of any irregularities that may be occurring and may be hindering your fertility. You may notice that your temperature does not rise indicating you are not ovulating, or you may not be seeing fertile mucus affecting the sperm travelling to the egg. In these cases seeing a qualified healthcare professional may help to regain the balance and improve your chances of conception.
References available on request
Francesca Naish, Natural Fertility 4th Edition.
Dr Christiane Northrup, Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom.