When you are ready to start trying to get pregnant, there are so many things you need to do and to be aware of.
Firstly, before you start delving into such a life-changing journey, you must see your doctor and get a check up. Find out if there are changes you need to make whether they are dietary or what bad habits you need to kick. For instance, if you are a smoker, a drinker or drug user, you will want to be serious about quitting.
Not only will that hurt your chances of conceiving, but if you do it will be harmful to the developing baby. If you are serious about getting pregnant you want to increase the chances of you having a healthy pregnancy, right?
However, aside from that, one question that many women have is when the best time happens to be in their cycle to have sex to increase the chance of getting pregnant.
Knowing your cycle is incredibly important in order to conceive. Every woman’s cycle is different. Some women may have that standard 28-day cycle, where others may have a 35-day cycle. Some women have very irregular cycles. That said, it is very important to predict and know when ovulation happens. This way, you will be able to know when to have sex in order to increase the odds of conceiving if you have the timing right.
There are three ways of charting your cycle, and they will be discussed below as well as the advantages and disadvantages of those types.
Charting with Changes in Cervical Mucus
This may sound very odd to those who are not familiar with how to chart your cycle at all, but monitoring your cervical mucus, believe it or not, is a good way to know when you are fertile. Cervical mucus, which is also called cervical fluid is a substance secreted by the cervix and it can tell you so much about where you are in your cycle
Cervical mucus production is regulated by the hormone estrogen, so the quantity and texture of cervical mucus changes throughout your menstrual cycle. The ups and downs of estrogen production is what causes the texture to change.
Cervical mucus production is low right after your period and therefore this is the time when you are incredibly dry. However, as your cycle progresses, the estrogen production begins to build. At this time you will be seeing more cervical mucus, and the appearance may be creamy.
When ovulation is ready to happen, your estrogen surges which causes your cervical mucus to become slippery and stretchy. At that time it looks like egg whites.
This type of mucus is fertile quality. The texture indicates that ovulation is ready to happen, and it helps protect sperm while it travels up to the tract to meet with the egg.
Just know that if there is no fertile quality cervical mucus, it makes conception harder. Your partner’s sperm depends on this mucus to help them go from your vagina to your fallopian tube to fertilize the egg.
Advantages of Relying on Cervical Mucus Changes as a Way to Predict Fertile Times
Once you check your cervical mucus for several months, you will know the texture and wetness of it very well and know when it is that time to try. That is, as long as you are healthy, and no physical changes have been happening over the last several months.
Disadvantages of Relying on the Cervical Mucus Method to Predict Fertility
This method is reliable if you have been healthy and haven’t been through any kind of physical changes. Keep in mind that changes in weight, lifestyle, stress, illness, sleep disturbances and infections can have an impact on your cycle. Therefore this way to predict fertility if you have been through any of that will not be helpful to you.
However there are other ways to predict your fertility times during your cycle, and another one is by taking your temperature daily.
Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Charting
You may not be aware of this, however there are several factors that make up your body temperature. Sometimes a rise in your temperature has nothing to do with having a fever. But that kind of rise is important for you to know about when charting your cycle.
Before that is discussed further at this point, just know that your basal body temperature (BBT) is your body’s temperature at rest. This is important for you to realize as you need to get a thermometer that measures your BBT. This type of thermometer is different from the type that you use if you suspect you have a fever.
Drugstores sell BBT thermometers, and you measure your temperature the first day of your menstrual period. It is important to do this right after you wake up, and before you do any physical activity such as brushing your teeth or drinking your coffee or even getting out of bed. In order to get accurate results, take your BBT at the same time every morning, before doing anything at all.
Just know that your true basal body temperature is somewhat lower than the one you measure just after you wake up. When you ovulate, your basal body temperature will increase from ½ to 1 degree Fahrenheit or ¼ to ½ degree Celsius. When you have a lower, pre-ovulation temperature and higher post-ovulation temperature, it is called a biphasic pattern. When you are charting this pattern, you will start to know your most fertile window as time progresses.
When you take your BBT, be sure to record it in graph form. BBT thermometers frequently come with graph paper and this way it makes it easy to see any temperature rises. You can always buy graph paper from stores like Staples, or drug and department stores. Higher temperature that lasts for at least three days is an indicator that ovulation is on its way. In order to know your cycle, it is recommended that you record your BBT for a few menstrual cycles. This way you will be given more accurate results about your ovulation period.
Advantages of BBT charting
This way of charting is cheap, and may be more accurate than relying on cervical mucus changes alone. Measuring and charting your BBT in conjunction with getting to know your mucus texture is even better.
If you use this method well, you can get pregnant quickly as long as no other significant fertility factors come into play.
Lastly, this method does not manipulate fertility at all, as it is completely natural.
Disadvantages of BBT charting
You will not likely get pregnant the first or second month after using this method because ovulation is only detected after it has occurred. That being said, you will miss your most fertile time to conceive. This method is fine is you are prepared to be patient in order to use this method for several months because at that point you will be able to know your cycle.
As mentioned before in regards to relying on cervical mucus changes, any illness, variation in sleep pattern, stress, lifestyle changes or anything significant can throw off the pattern you are developing in your chart. Therefore this will not be accurate.
If you don’t want to chart your cycle for several months before knowing it, you can use ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) instead.
Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs)
If you have been trying to chart your cycle through BBT without luck because your cycle is irregular, then using ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) may be a better option. OPKs are another method that can determine female fertility by measuring the luteinizing hormone (LH) in urine. Higher amounts of LH is expected to happen 1 or2 days prior to ovulation. In fact, this is a very helpful method in determining your specific days that you are most fertile.
When you decide to use OPKs, you begin to use it after your menstrual cycle is over. Be sure to repeat the method the following days at the same time because this will increase the odds of success. And take an OPK until a positive test result is reached.
Advantages of the OPK
Using the OPK method is easy and convenient, and you can use this method at home.
They are also affordable, and can give you the results in 5 minutes with a high accuracy rate.
Disadvantages of OPKs
If you are perimenopausal or diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), that could lead to increased LH levels. Therefore, that may end up giving you a false positive. If that happens you really are not ovulating.
Between checking changes in your cervical mucus daily, taking your BBT, and/or using OPKs, you will be able to chart your cycle. However if none of these ways of charting give you any indication of when you are really ovulating, you may not be ovulating and will have to make an appointment with your doctor if that is the case.