11th October 2018
If you’re trying to conceive, it’s important to understand your fertile signs. These signs can tell if you are fertile right now. Having knowledge around your fertile period means that you can concentrate your efforts during this window!
When are you most fertile?
To increase your chances of conception, the ideal time for sexual intercourse is just before ovulation. A woman is usually at her most fertile a day or two before ovulation and on the day of ovulation itself (but as sperm can live inside the womb for up to 7 days, the whole fertile period can be longer).
A common misconception, however, is that ovulation occurs at the midpoint of the menstrual cycle-at day 14. In fact, cycle length and time of ovulation varies hugely between women, and within each individual woman.
So by understanding the physical signs around your fertile period, you can recognise when your ovulation period is approaching.
How to recognise signs of ovulation?
The most important signs to identify during your monthly cycle are the cervical mucus, waking temperature, and the position of the cervix.
1. Cervical mucus
It doesn’t have the nicest sounding name, but it’s a great way of telling when you’re about to ovulate.
The best way to tell if you are producing egg-white mucus is to take a look when you’re next in the toilet and feel for any vaginal discharge. Discharge can vary from sticky and dry, to thin and wet. If you can stretch out the mucus between your thumb and forefinger without it breaking then you are in your fertile period!
You may notice this sign for 1-2 days. The great thing about this sign is that you can check it discreetly without the aid of ovulation testing kits and so you can turn on the romance without putting additional pressure on your partner that you have to do the deed now! It also acts as a natural lubricant. Once you have ovulated, the oestrogen levels drop, and the egg-white mucus disappears to be replaced by a drier sticky discharge.
2. Waking temperature
The usefulness of this sign is that it can help inform you that you have indeed ovulated. It can be something you track every month, or every once in a while. In combination with the cervical fluid sign, it can give you a lot of information about your menstrual cycle and fertile period.
The best way to determine this temperature rise is to take your basal body temperature (BBT). The basal body temperature is your lowest body temperature in a 24-hour period. This will be when you wake up in the morning, before you do anything else (even before you sit up in bed!). The most accurate way to do this is to use a specific BBT thermometer and keep it on your bedside table.
What to look out for:
The temperature before ovulation is usually between 36.1- 36.4oC. After ovulation, within a day or two, there is a persistent temperature rise of at least 0.2oC.
The easiest way to interpret this sign is by plotting your daily temperature on graph paper, and you will be able to identify the shift in temperature that will confirm that ovulation has taken place.
It’s worth noting that factors that can affect and increase your usual waking temperature include a fever, drinking alcohol the night before and having less than three hours of consecutive sleep before taking your temperature.
It’s quite common for women not to have a temperature shift. If that happens, don’t worry, it’s not the only sign to help you predict your ovulation period.
3. Cervical position
Throughout your menstrual cycle, the position of your cervix changes. By tracking this, it’s possible to recognise the fertile stage of your cycle.
The cervix sits between your womb and the vagina, and can be felt at the top of the vagina. Therefore, checking your cervix requires putting fingers inside the vagina to assess the cervix.
Although you may feel that this sign isn’t something you are keen to get to grips with, you may have already noticed it. Have you ever felt that a particular sex position is painful at certain times of the month, but not at others? This pain might be related to how your cervix is positioned.
What to look out for:
Before and after your fertile period the cervix will feel low and firm; it will also be closed (you might just feel a dimple) and won’t feel wet.
During your fertile period the cervix is positioned higher and is soft. It will also feel open and wet. It’s at this time that you are at your most fertile.
Other signs of ovulation
As you become more attuned to your body, you may notice other signs that you maybe be ovulating.
These signs include:
– lower abdominal pain/aches on one side or the other,
-breast tenderness in the middle of your cycle.
Interestingly, there is evidence that a woman’s sexual desire increases around the time of ovulation so make sure you take advantage of those feelings!
Every woman is different and understanding your individual fertile signs is one way of taking charge of your body and your fertility. However, it is also true that tracking these changes may not be helpful for everybody and could cause stress.
Be mindful of this and if it all gets too much, then the best thing to do is to take it back to basics, make time for each other and enjoy the time you spend together.
To understand more about your reproductive health, Adia offers whole body fertility check through easy finger-prick blood tests and short questionnaires. Find out more about our Fertility Tests here.