It still surprises me how many women do not understand their periods/Cycle/Ovulation patterns and signs. This is one of the most important topics to get familiar with when trying for a baby. There is such a lack of support and education out there for women and young girls to understand their bodies so I am on a mission to help as many females as possible to get more “connected” with their bodies and their monthly cycle.
How do you know when you’re ovulating? You were probably taught that ovulation occurs on the 14th day of your cycle – at the presumed mid-point – but for many women it’s not as simple or straight-forward as that. Although commonly we start tracking ovulation signs when we’re hoping to get pregnant, knowing if and when you’re ovulating is also useful for understanding the source of any cycle issues or symptoms you might be experiencing like missing periods, irregular cycles, or pre-menstrual problems like mood swings and depression. A lack of ovulation is a cause of infertility, of course, but it’s also a cause of many common period problems and hormonal imbalance issues. With no ovulation, your body may not be producing enough progesterone. Low progesterone (and the resulting estrogen dominance) is a root cause of many hormone-based health issues, from PCOS to fibroids to ovarian cysts.
One of the first thing you need to do is find out if you are ovulating (Egg release) and if so, when. This is essential to get pregnant or to avoid sexual intercourse if wanting to avoid getting pregnant. Without an egg ; its impossible to conceive. And without knowing your body and its ovulation signs; it’s difficult for you to know the timing of when to have sex. So this is so important for you to track and connect with.
Every womans period is different. Some have a regular 28 day cycle, others have a 26 or 30 day cycle, and others have a very sporadic cycle that has no pattern. If your period comes around the same time every month (give or take a day or two) then it is considered some way normal. If your period is a little all over the place; then its much harder to track your ovulation and the first step for you would be to book a consult with me and/or see your GP/Gyny to determine what may be happening.
Day 1 is the first day of bleeding. Also known as the “Follicular Phase” (the time from the beginning of your period to the time you ovulate). A regular 28 day cycle would tend to have a fertile/ovulation time between day 10-15. This is calculated by subtracting 16-12 days before the bleed starts. So 28 – 16 = 12. and 28 – 12 = 16.
So on average, a woman with a 28 day cycle would be most fertile between days 12 and16. (See the guide below)
However the body will start to show you signs before this.
WHEN CAN I GET PREGNANT?
Technically there are approx 6 days a month that you are able to get pregnant, which is referred to as your fertile window. These 6 days include the 5 days before ovulation and the day of ovulation.
The number, however, depends on how long your partner’s sperm can live and the overall health of your reproductive system.
Eggs typically live anywhere from 12-24 hours and sperm typically lives anywhere from 2-7 days. If his sperm lives 7 days, then you will have 8 days a month to get pregnant but if his sperm lives 3 days, than you have 4 days a month that you are able to conceive.
However, your total fertile period is how long the egg is fertile and how long sperm can wait for the egg combined. The odds of conceiving at the far ends of that time period are small.
The key to maximising your chances of getting pregnant each month is to find your fertile window. Having sperm waiting around to greet your egg increases your chance of getting pregnant. Aim to have intercourse every day (or every other day), starting two to four days before you expect to ovulate and then the day of ovulation. See image below regarding the likeliehood of pregnancy during your fertile window/ovulation.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR:
The signs your body gives you when you’re ovulating should become obvious and clear if you know what to look for. You should know and feel your ovulation signs with every cycle.
When trying to get pregnant tracking your ovulation signs should not be stressful or difficult. It shouldn’t require expensive ovulation predictor kits, tester strips, frantic sex scheduling or months of missed opportunities due to lack of ovulation from that same stress and anxiety. Ovulation ought to be something you can really feel as a change in your body, a change in your sex drive, and a change in your energy. Once you learn to listen and observe “your Flo” and how your hormones move melodiously from phase to phase then trusting in this process will become much easier. It is beneficial to use the Basal Thermometer tracking method instead of the urine tests. The reason being is the ovulation kits are innacuate if you have hormonal imbalances/PCOS etc and will give you a false reading.
If you have menstrual irregularities however, it can be difficult to figure out when you’re ovulating so improving your period/hormones would be the first step for you until you can really monitor your ovulation.
Basal body temperature– your resting temperature or the temperature you have when you wake up first thing in the morning can be tracked and charted so you know when you have ovulated. You can use a regular thermometer and track your reading in one of the popular apps. (Note – if you use anti-histamines or don’t produce much cervical fluid this is a good option) There is a brilliant app called Fertility Friend which makes it easy to track your temp and it gives you a reading every month showing you when you are fertile. It also will help you to see the different stages of your cycle that may be an issue. Here is a video explaining how to use the app https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tc8QSRylar4
Cervical fluid– your cervical mucus or cervical fluid changes throughout your cycle. Look in your panties or after you wipe! When yot are fertile, cervical fluid is referred to as “egg white” in consistency – stretchy and clear. You need this for fertility – it helps the sperm to travel to meet your egg. You can see and feel cervical fluid around ovulation time. It’s a very clear indicator to me that I am fertile and that my hormones are in balance and working in harmony.
Sex drive – your testosterone levels peak around ovulation, boosting your sex drive. When you’re fertile you should feel an increased interest in sex and possibly enjoy sex more than other times of the month. You may feel more attracted to your partner or generally more amourous. Your body knows this is the best time to make a baby and it just giving you a gentle reminder of your fertility.
Energy– when women enter the ovulation phase, their energy tends to shift – You my feel more buoyant, energetic, sociable, communicative and increased stamina for exercise.
Symptoms – some women experience symptoms around their ovulation which are a lot like period problems, including spotting, bloating, acne, and pain in lower abdomen. These are the kind of ovulation signs you really don’t want! All of these can be improved though and it’s all to do with making sure you’re producing enough progesterone and estrogen in balance
NOTE: If ovulation does occur and the second half of your cycle is shorter than 10 days; then you may have a progesterone deficiency. The fertility friend app that you will use to monitor your morning temperatures will show you the length of each stage. Again all of this is really good to have a record of so you can give it all to your healthcare provider/Gyny.
Instead of focusing on the day of ovulation as being the “big event” , I recommend being aware of a more fertile week during which you are more consistent with intercourse a few days before ovulation and on the ovulation day itself. If you can manage intercourse every second day, or even daily through this week it would be ideal, however if you miss a day or two its no big deal, the more important thing is to be relaxed, not stressed about timing and also note that sperm can survive for 5-7 days if your cervical/vaginal health is an optimum environment.
When you don’t have the signs of ovulation
It’s possible to experience an anovulatory cycle (a cycle with no ovulation) on occasion as the result of short term illness, chronic stress, medications, traveling – your body can “read” when you probably shouldn’t be getting pregnant, or potentially getting pregnant, and it will delay or prevent ovulation accordingly. It’s pretty cool like that! Although a one-off anovulatory cycle is not ideal as you’ll likely experience the resulting symptoms from low progesterone of PMS, heavier bleeding, and cramps, it does occasionally occur.
However, if you’re experiencing multiple cycles without ovulation signs you need to take a really good look at your diet and lifestyle and consider making some changes to support your body. Your body wants to ovulate, it needs to ovulate, and consistent ovulation every cycle is going to ensure you feel at your best and avoid hormonal symptoms.
Reasons why you may not be ovulating.
A lack of ovulation signs can indicate a number of root causes that can alot of the time be addressed naturally
Blood sugar irregularity – your endocrine system relies on your blood sugar staying in stable stasis without any crashes or too many peaks. Your body will read mismanaged blood sugar as an internal stressor and the first thing to go when your body is under perceived pressure is ovulation.
Sleep deprivation – over even just a few days of broken sleep can block the hormone melatonin and increases the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Of course, a lack of sleep can be linked to stress or anxiety and become something of a loop of ovulation-suppressing issues.
Adrenal fatigue – having a busy life/alot of stress affects the adrenals. Over worked adrenal glands create cortisol and this can disrupt progesterone (your body starts to use progesterone up as a cortisol substitute when stressed). Low progesterone levels prevents ovulation and makes miscarriage more likely.
Low BMI – Having low enough body fat can not only suppress ovulation, but can also stop your period. Maintaining a healthy weight, and eating the right quantity of calories and fats is key to a healthy cycle.
If you’re not experiencing the signs of ovulation then I would suggest getting in touch to discuss your options and to contact your GP/Gyny to investigate further.
I hope this helps,
Click on the button below to continue reading and learn how to track/understand your cervical fluid in more detail.