Your cycle. It can seem like a mystery sometimes, especially when your menstrual cycle isn’t regular. If you’re trying to conceive or not, it’s important to know how your cycle works and when you are ovulating. FEMNA tells you what ovulation is all about, how to track it, when you’re fertile & when you’re in the “safe zone” with 4 easy ways.
Scare tactics have taught some young girls around the globe that you will get pregnant anytime you have sex. The truth is that you have about a seven-day window of fertility – that is, the six days leading up to your day of ovulation and on the day that you drop an egg into your fallopian tubes.
How Ovulation Works
Every month, like menstruation, your body usually ovulates, meaning that an egg is released into your fallopian tubes preparing for fertilization. The egg only lives for 12-24 hours, and if it is not fertilized, it dissolves and your body prepares for menstruation – also known as the luteal phase. Sperm has a life span of up to 6 days after sex, which is where we get the magic number of seven days of fertility, commonly known as the ovulatory phase.
Even though the magic number is seven, Yourfertility.org.au found that a woman has a 27-33% chance of becoming pregnant on the three days leading up to ovulation day. That may seem like a small number, especially if your sex-ed class taught you using the scare tactic, but that is the highest probability for a woman to conceive because outside of the magic seven days, the probability is 0% for a woman to get pregnant. This is why Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM) are so important for both the couple starting a family and the one that is not ready yet.
If you are trying to conceive, FAM is the most effective way to do so. Planned Parenthood has recorded that “FAMs are about 76-88% effective: that means 12-24 out of 100 couples who use FAMs will get pregnant each year.”
If you are trying to avoid pregnancy, knowing your ovulation cycle can help you to determine when your fertile days are and if you should be concerned of pregnancy. Tracking your cycle should not be the only form of birth control that you use. For me, I consider my “safe zone” one week before I receive my period. Because my cycle is typically regular, I can have peace of mind in case the condom breaks during my “safe zone.” Tracking my cycle helps me understand when I should be the most cuatious.
4 Ways to Track Your Ovulation
First of all, tracking your ovulation is not a guaranteed form of contraception or way to concieve. It is merely a tool to help you understand generally when you are most fertile. It is advised to become familiar with your cycle and track it for three or more months to get an idea if you are regular or irregular. FEMNA always encourages other forms of contraceptive, espectially condoms, to prevent pregnancy and STIs.
1. You’re Hot: Check Your Temp
This method requires the most discipline. You must take your temperature every morning, the moment you wake up, before you get out of bed – before you do ANYTHING!
This method is a little tricky, as your temperature will normally fluctuate a little bit and the temperature when you ovulate only increases by .5°C (1°F). Planned Parenthood recommends to chart your temperature for three months before relying on this method as means to chart your ovulation day. Remember, you are most fertile the three days leading up to your ovulation day and sperm can live up to 6 days inside of you, so relying solely on this as a form contraceptive is not recommended.
At a Glance
✺ Take your temperature every morning
✺ Track your temperature on a FAM chart
✺ Consult your doctor to read the chart accurately
✺ Before you ovulate, your temp will be around 35.5-36.6°C (96-98°F)
✺ During ovulation, your temp will be around 36-37.2°C (97-99°F)
2. Wet Panties: Find The Evidence
The cervical mucus method is the easiest way to know that you are ovulating. Every month, during your ovulation cycle, you will feel more moisture accumulating in your vagina. Often times, you will see the evidence in your panties. Your body is always generating cervical mucus, so, using this method requires some investigative work and familiarizing yourself with what your mucus means. Do not rely on this method right away. You must chart your mucus for at least one cycle to be able to determine when your fertile days are. If you identify your ovulation mucus, you have already been fertile for five previous days!
With that in mind, it important to note that this method of contraception is only useful to understand when you are ovulating. I give myself two more days after ovulation and then I know for certain that I am no longer fertile. Protection is still highly recomended, but if the condom breaks during the “safe zone,” my mind is at ease.
At a Glance
- Test your cervical mucus every day from the end of your period until your next period
- After your period, you will experience a few “dry days” where there is little to no mucus
- When your body prepares to ovulate (during your fertile days), your body generates a cloudy and sticky mucus.
- During ovulation, you will have the most mucus, a clear, stretchy and slippery substance that is similar to the texture of egg whites.
3. Buy A Kit: Absolute Certainty
This is the last step I would recommend to someone for two reasons. One, you should get to know your cycle first and be more familiar with it. This way, you are sensitive to your body’s changes and can rely more on the physical evidence – after all, we are only human and our bodies don’t work like clockwork or machines – sometimes you have a few days off. Two, it costs money and you can very well conceive without spending on a fancy kit. If you find you are having trouble conceiving the traditional way, then, yes! Purchase and try the kit!
At a Glance
- The luteinizing hormone (LH) increases 24-48 hours prior to ovulation
- Detecting this hormone with the kit is 99% accurate
- Women can experience false LH peaks resulting in false positives of ovulation (especially in women with PCOS)
- Incorporate other methods of FAM for the most efficient results (and wasting less of the kit)
4. Track It For Ease Of Mind
Now that you have a method for tracking your ovulation, use a calendar to predict your next ovulation day, your prior six fertile days, your “safe days” and your period. A calendar or phone calendar with reminders works well, but there are also a ton of helpful apps like Clue that help you. Clue is one of our favorites because you have the capabilities to share your cycle with your partner, the layout is color coded and use-friendly and you can easily chart notes on the consistency of your period or mucus and your symptoms or PMS.
Know Your Body
Even if you aren’t serious about tracking your ovulation just yet, there are signs and changes that you can recognize which signal you have entered your fertile state. Besides the cervical mucus, humans who ovulate will feel a surge in sex drive, more energy and heightened senses. Ever wondered why sometimes your partner smells better or looks sexier or just turns you on more? That’s your hormones shifting you into your primal mating stage called ovulation.
Tracking your cycle and becoming familiar with your body adn your hormone shifts will greatly help you to conceive or to avoid pregnancy. And, if you still find conceiving difficult, consult your doctor. Many women today have issues with fertility due to a lot of western society influences like chemicals, toxic metals and diet. Hormone balance is key to increase fertility, and FEMNA offers women the help of hormonal balance through the power of herbs and natural medicines. Peak you interest? Find out what FEMNA is all about.
 Planned Parenthood. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/fertility-awareness
 AmericanPregnancy.org. http://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/ovulation-kits