Fertility Awareness

Ovulation charting involves using a variety of methods to track the normal processes of your monthly cycle to find the best times for conception. Proper tracking can highlight fertile days within your monthly cycle.

You can try each natural conception method individually or combine the methods with ovulation predictor kits. Simple, home methods include the calendar method, charting basal body temperature (BBT method), and/or charting cervical mucous to determine when you are ovulating.

Awareness of your menstrual cycle is the first step in using the calendar method.

According to Dr. Paul Chang from TCART Fertility Partners, “For those who enjoy doing math: subtract 14 from your cycle length to determine your date of ovulation. For example, if your cycle length is 28 days, your date of ovulation is the 14th day of your menstrual cycle. Having sex around the date of your ovulation is the optimal time to help you conceive.”

Women using the calendar method will track their menstrual cycles for at least three months before trying to conceive. This method will take into account your first day of your last menstrual cycle, the average length of your cycle (generally not recommended for cycles less than 27 days) and the length of days past ovulation (luteal phase). This method can help you to determine trends and abnormalities in your cycle. Using an advanced charting application can make this easier for you.

This method requires charting your basal body temperature over the length of your cycle. There is a change in your BBT that will occur directly after ovulation and will continue to remain elevated until your next period. After you have charted your BBT for a few cycles, you can look through them to determine the pattern of your BBT when ovulation is expected or anticipated. To do this, take your temperature every morning using a basal thermometer (temperatures generally only escalate between 0.4 and 1 degree Fahrenheit when you ovulate). You will then record your temperature on a chart. It is recommended to take your temperature first thing in the morning and keep the time consistent each day.

What to look for: During the first part of your cycle, your BBT temperature will be low. Right before you ovulate, your BBT will drop even lower (ovulation) then spike over the next 10 days (luteal phase – the average is 10 days; a short luteal phase may make it more difficult to become pregnant). However, once it spikes you will most likely have ovulated, so it is recommended to begin intercourse when the drop in BBT is noticed. A general tip is that you will have ovulated whenever you see a spike in temperature of at least 0.4 degrees above the highest of your previous 6-7 days’ temperatures. Note: Some women will not have a drop in temperature, so look for the spike and make note for the next month.

This method requires charting changes in your cervical mucous (CM) during your monthly menstrual cycle. Directly after your period, a series of dry mucous days will occur. However, when an egg ripens, the cervical mucous changes and may become yellow or white/cloudy and feel “sticky”. In general, you will have the most mucous just before ovulation when the mucous becomes clear and feels “slippery” (commonly referred to as “egg whites”). These mucous days are considered your most fertile days. The mucous will then become considerably less and appear cloudy/feel sticky again after approximately 4 days and then again dry just before your period. Many women will track their CM with their BBT.

Ovulation

Ovulation happens when an egg matures and is released from the ovary; it then travels down the fallopian tubes and is ready to be fertilized. The uterine lining becomes thicker in preparation for egg fertilization and implantation if fertilized. If the egg does not become fertilized, conception does not occur and the uterine lining will shed (menstruation).

Factors Affecting Ovulation:

  • Hormones
  • Stress
  • Health & Wellness

Facts About Ovulation:

  • Generally only one egg is released per cycle from your ovaries.
  • The egg lives approximately 12-24 hours after being released.
  • Women are born with millions of eggs; that number decreases with age.
  • In the days leading up to ovulation, your body will increase production of estrogen. Estrogen (specifically estradiol) is what triggers your luteinizing hormone (LH) to surge. (The surges in estrogen are responsible for making the environment more “sperm-friendly” within your body, as well as causing the uterine wall to thicken (progesterone)
  • An LH surge is when your luteinizing hormone increases. This surge is generally the day before or day of ovulation when your ovaries release an egg.
  • An egg that is unfertilized will disintegrate and be shed with the lining during menstruation.
  • Some women experience minor pain or discomfort when ovulating, some experience light spotting.

Conception

Conception occurs when a sperm penetrates a mature egg. The fertilized egg starts dividing into many cells and continues its journey down the fallopian tubes into the uterus where it implants itself into the endometrium. The cervix becomes “plugged” by thick mucus in preparation for the next nine months. Your baby will be termed an embryo until the 8th week after fertilization, of which the term for your baby will be fetus!
Nutrition and Lifestyle Tips for Getting Pregnant:

  • Stop smoking
  • Decrease alcohol intake and stop alcohol intake once pregnant
  • Stop recreational drug use
  • Discontinue use of contraceptives
  • Lower stress levels
  • Maintain a healthy diet and remain active
  • Know your cycle
  • Begin taking vitamins and increase Folic Acid intake

Your partner should follow similar tips in order to be healthy for conception to occur.
If you think you may be pregnant: Use a pregnancy test kit at home and be sure to contact your doctor to make an appointment as soon as possible!