Pretty easy right? Have sex…Wrong.
Well right…but only if you’re having sex at the right time every month.
I remember about fifteen years ago my cousin had just got married and was frustrated that she wasn’t pregnant six months after the wedding. So, she went to the doctor and found out there was a “fertile window” every month. She went for coffee after her appointment with her mum and asked, “did you know that there’s only a couple of days each month you can get pregnant?” She honestly didn’t know. And her mum, who had had four daughters, didn’t know either.
And here’s another confession. When I heard this story second hand from my mother, I had no idea either. But didn’t give it much thought. Because I was in my 20’s and had been on the pill since I was 16 (due to acne and very rare periods – thanks PCOS but that’s another blog article). Plus, I wasn’t trying to get pregnant, quite the opposite.
I also don’t think it’s that surprising. Sex education at school is all about NOT getting pregnant. Now looking back it would have been a lot handier to know about my menstrual cycle and each stage of the cycle, including at which point I was fertile. Not that I really had cycles then (again, thanks PCOS).
So how do you know when the right time in your cycle to get pregnant is?
Day 14 of your cycle. That’s the textbook answer. But that is based on a 28-day cycle. Mine is 30-32 days. And before I started taking Myo-Inositol it was sometimes 2-3 months long. Also, I got pregnant with my second baby on day 42 (cd42). I was still breastfeeding my first baby, had only had one period and took Myo-Inositol for 2 weeks and then bam ovulated, 42 days after my last period. Which was very far from day 14!
Once you have worked out when you ovulate (see some easy ways to help you do that below), you can easily calculate your fertile window.
The fertile window
So what is the “fertile window” and when is the best time to get pregnant? The fertile window is when an egg is released from the ovary. An egg lives for 12-24 hours after being released and for pregnancy to happen a sperm must get to the egg in this time. Sperm can hang around for up to five days waiting for an egg, so you can have sex up to 5 days before ovulation and still get pregnant. But what if your cycle is 32 days? Or 25? Then the rule of thumb is to minus 14 days from this number. So, if your cycle is 32 days long, ovulation day would be cycle day 18. As I mentioned before though, I once ovulated on cycle day 42 (and got pregnant). So really there are no mathematical rules. Basically, you need to know your own body, and there are some easy ways to help you out with that.
5 Easy things you can do to know when you’re fertile and increase your chances of getting pregnant
1. Use a period/cycle tracking app
Seriously. Do this. And use a good one. Not one that thinks you’re on the standard 28 day cycle. One that analyses your data and lets you know your average cycle length over time. Also, one that tracks your symptoms such as pelvic pain, cervical mucous (more about that below), cervix position, your digestion, and how you feel in general. You should start to see some patterns forming (and if you’ve got a good app it will highlight these patterns). This will help you know when you’re most fertile.
2. Look at your cervical mucous
Cervical mucous is fluid or gel-like discharge you might find when you wipe after you do a wee, or in your underwear. Throughout your cycle, the thickness and amount of cervical mucous changes. This is because of hormone levels fluctuating throughout your cycle, and these hormones stimulate glands in the cervix to produce mucus.
Before ovulation, our body produces mucus before an egg is released, or before ovulation occurs. It may be yellow, white, or cloudy. The mucus may feel gluey or stretchy in consistency. This is a sign that it’s almost game time.
Just prior to ovulation, your estrogen levels are rising. You may see more clear, stretchy, watery, and slippery mucus. It will be similar to the consistency of egg whites. When you see egg whites (and if you’re game…can stretch it between your fingers) you’re on. It’s time to have sex! During ovulation this clear, stretchy mucus will stick around. The texture and pH of this mucus helps sperm survive and swim.
3. Take ovulation tests
If you really want to pinpoint when you’re ovulating, take ovulation tests! Ovulation tests detect a surge in the production of luteinizing hormone (LH), which occurs roughly 36 hours before ovulation. By having sex shortly after the LH surge, you can increase your odds of sperm hitting the egg. These can be expensive and when you’re trying to conceive testing can be a bit addictive. I’ve come across a great online store in Australia (thanks Instagram) that sells them cheaply and in bulk (and also pregnancy test too). Fertility2Family is the brand and you can visit their website here.
Also important to note that ovulation tests don’t always work with women who have PCOS. This is because women with PCOS can have persistently high levels of LH, which means that you will get positive readings throughout your cycle, even when you are not ovulating (if you are at all). This is where Vivalex Reproductive Blend can really help.
4. Have loads of sex
When you’re in your fertile window make sure you’re having sex at least every second day. Sperm can live up to 5 days so if you’re having sex every second day (or every day) you have a good chance of getting pregnant.
5. Take prenatal supplements, including Myo-Inositol
Most nutrients should come from the foods you eat, but it’s also a good idea to take prenatal vitamins. Your nurse, doctor, or midwife can recommend the best vitamins for you. Taking 400 mcg of folic acid every day for at least 1 month before and during pregnancy can help lower the risk for problems with the baby’s brain and spine, called neural tube defects.
Taking Myo-Inositol is another easy way to increase your chances of getting pregnant. Inositol is a carbohydrate found in your body, as well as in food and dietary supplements. Inositol plays a role in many bodily processes. Therefore, it has been studied for its many potential health benefits. Studies have shown that inositol promotes normal hormone levels, regular menstrual cycles, and normal ovulatory function.
Myo-inositol is probably most researched for its ability to promote normal ovulation and hormone balance for women with PCOS. However, new research finds it may also be a great way to improve egg health for all women (not just those with PCOS). Animal studies show myo-inositol supports normal blastocyst development (the early stages of fetal growth).
I would love to know the methods to get pregnant that have worked for you. Comment below.