If you are trying to conceive (TTC) you may have heard of the term fertile window.
It is the time of a woman’s menstrual cycle when your chances of getting pregnant are at it’s highest. You might not have realized that there is actually only a small window of time each month when conception can actually occur.
What is ovulation?
Ovulation is when an egg is released from your ovary and travels down the fallopian tube, waiting for a sperm to create a baby. This process happens about midway through the menstrual cycle, or on average 14 days after the first day of your period.
Therefore, the fertile window is typically days 12-15 of the menstrual cycle. I use the terms “average” and “typically” because every woman is different and cycle lengths can vary.
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The Fertile Window: How do you determine when your fertile window is?
There are a number of methods that you can use when tracking your ovulation.
The first thing you should start doing is tracking your basal body temperature (BBT).
Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
BBT is your temperature first thing in the morning, before getting out of bed or having a sip of water.
You should keep the thermometer on your night stand. Because ideally, the temperatures are taken at about the same time every morning.
You need a thermometer specific to BBT because they are more sensitive and measure to the 100th decimal place. This makes all the difference when you are looking for a slight rise in temperatures. As small as half of a degree.
How to Track BBT
To track your basal body temperature, I highly recommend you use Fertility Friend. You can visit their website here: https://www.fertilityfriend.com/.
They also have an app you can download too. I used this app and loved it! (FYI: That is not an affiliate link. I just really believe in the app and want to share what worked for me, with you!)
Fertility Friend creates monthly temperature charts for you. And it even gives you insight as to when you most likely ovulated based on the information you input.
It is free for the basic mode, but you can upgrade if you want to get more detailed information about your cycles. I used the free version and successfully conceived the first month.
Important Note About Monitoring BBT
An important thing to note about temperature monitoring is that you should be doing it for a couple of months before you intend on conceiving.
Because once you see the temperature spike this indicates that ovulation has already occurred.
The way this method helps you is to see a trend over a few months so you can learn when your fertile window is. Getting to understand your menstrual cycle is the key to understanding when you are most likely to conceive.
It is not 100% guaranteed that you will ovulate at the same time each month. But the science behind this allow you to better predict when you will ovulate.
Fertility Friend App
This chart is from the month that I conceived.
As you can see, the first two weeks the temperatures are all pretty near the baseline (the red line) with some minimal variations probably related to the times of the morning I woke up.
You will see the first spike up- this is when I ovulated.
The drop in temperatures a couple of days after is what is called the fall back rise. This is a normal thing that happens after the initial surge of hormones.
Your temperatures will stay elevated for the next two weeks until your menses in which they would drop back down to baseline, but as you can see in the case of successful conception (green line)- they stay elevated.
So you can see how detailed this charting is and how helpful it can be when you are trying to pinpoint your fertile window.
The most fertile times are two days before the day you ovulate and the day you ovulate. If you can estimate the day you are most likely to ovulate you can time when to have intercourse.
What is the hype about cervical mucous?
Being squeamish about our bodies will not serve you well here.
Everything our bodies do is for a reason. We sweat, to cool our bodies. Our eyes water when we get something in them to prevent injury. And our vaginas secrete fluids to cleanse themselves and also promote motility of sperm when it is time.
Our vaginas seem like endless holes that don’t do much, but in reality they are pretty sophisticated. I mean, what other thing can push a whole baby out, and go back to normal in little time?
Pay attention to your cervical mucous. AKA- the stuff that you see in your underwear or if you wipe.
Did you know that over the course of the month it changes? It goes from dry, to mucousy, and back to dry again with many variations in between.
Egg White Cervical Mucous
You will be looking for what is referred to as “egg white cervical mucous”. Think of what an egg looks like when you crack it open. Minus the yellow yolk. The outer part of the egg, the clear jelly-like part. That is when you are most fertile.
That consistency of cervical mucous promotes the motility of sperm. It is also gives the sperm the best environment to survive. So keep track of what you cervical mucous looks like every day during your cycle, and when you see egg whites… well, you know what to do.
What about Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPK’s)?
OPK’s are strips that you dip into your urine and they detect the luteinizing hormone (LH).
Your urine always contains some level of this hormone.
These strips work best when you have an idea of when you ovulate because you need many of them. Essentially, you are looking for the test line to be darker than the control line.
In pregnancy tests when you have a second line, no matter how faint, it is a positive result. But in an ovulation strip test that is not the case.
It can be difficult to distinguish a positive result and that is why you need to use several strips a day for several days to establish a pattern.
I used these strips in conjunction with monitoring my temperatures. When you see the positive results on the OPK, then ovulation is most likely to occur within 36 hours. This is when you would get kanoodling!
Using these methods you will be able to get an idea of when your fertile window is.
Once you determine that, you will increase your chances of conceiving so greatly. These three things are what worked for me, and I hope they can help you too.
Any questions? Comment below!