According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, about 10% of women in the U.S. between ages 15 and 44 have difficulty getting pregnant or maintaining their pregnancy. The reasons vary. Lets talk about signs that a woman can use to tune into her fertility.
Tuning Into Your Cycles
The Ovulation calendar is useful as a fertility sign for those whose cycles are less than 21 days or more than 35 days.
Some things to know –
- Spotting and bleeding may indicate fertility since the hormonal changes leading to ovulation may cause spotting too.
- Abdominal pain, breast tenderness, backaches, or bloating show that your reproductive hormones are rising and falling – however they don’t tell you anything about whether you are fertile or not.
The Mucus Method
Spotting and recognizing your Cervical mucus is a very reliable method that a woman can use to track her own fertility. You can learn to recognize your mucus patterns in about a month. As the 10-20 eggs of a woman begin to ripen each month they secrete estrogen which causes the cervix to secrete slippery mucus which comes down to the opening of the vagina.
Regardless of the regularity of the menstrual cycle, the presence of the mucus indicates fertility – eggs are developing.
The presence of wet, smooth, slippery, blood-tinged, or stretchy mucus indicates that one of the eggs will soon ovulate, or bust out of the ovary, ready for fertilization. Furthermore, for a few days after that, you are still fertile because the mucus can protect and nourish a man’s sperm for 3-5 days inside the cervix! The most fertile days are usually the last day of the mucus (before dry period) and the day after.
How many days total per month you are fertile varies from cycle to cycle, but is usually about 8-14 days.
Learning the Mucus Method
The fastest way to learn this fertility signs is daily attention to the mucus to watch and learn your pattern. You should avoid intercourse and genital-to-genital contact for 3-4 weeks because your arousal fluids, semen, and/or spermicides can be as wet and slippery as the mucus you are looking to learn to spot. Sorry.
How do you recognize the mucus ? Good question! Here I’ll repeat what others have shared: It is ‘a wet feeling similar to the beginning of menstruation.’ Other descriptions: wet, sticky, pasty, smooth, or creamy/milky (like hand lotion, mayo ), lubricative, sometimes stretchy like raw egg white, white, cloudy or clear, yellowish, pink brown or blood-tinged, sweet odor, sweet taste! The more clear and watery, the more fertile; the more viscous and white then less fertile.
On ‘dry’ days: no mucus, musty odor, salty taste.
You should be aware that learning the mucus pattern will probably take four to six months instead of one month if you keep using contraceptive barriers and spermicides.
Daily Observations of the Cervical Mucus
- Start charting your findings. Record observations just before bedtime, record the most fertile appearing observation of the day. A dry day means no wet finding at all on that day.
- Wipe downward once across the vaginal opening before and after each use of the toilet, look for the signs mentioned above.
- Some women only find the mucus after doing Kegel exercises! You can do Kegels by tightening and releasing the vaginal muscles as if stopping and starting the flow of urine. After a few repetitions, wipe and observe the mucus. Especially after sex, doing Kegel exercises will expel excess seminal fluid making your observations hopefully easier.
- Check before and after urination and especially after defecation which frequently brings down mucus.
- Check before bathing, showering, and swimming.
Remember you are fertile on all days and nights of mucus and for the first four dry days in a row after the mucus or spotting ends. Fertility continues through the evening of the 4th dry day in a row after the mucus ends.
FYI, about 85% of the time, ovulation takes place on the last mucus day or the day after. About 10-15% of the time, ovulation may happen up to 2-3 days before or after the last mucus day.
Other Ways to Tune into Your Fertility Signs
* Changes in daily Basal Body temperature show when ovulation is finished. A temperature chart along with your mucus chart can help show whether a woman ovulates before, during, or after the last day of mucus.
* Cervical shape changes – The shape and feeling of the cervix change with estrogen levels. At fertile times the cervix is softer, opens up and is harder to reach. When estrogen levels drop around the time of ovulation, the cervix closes and hardens going back to its normal position. Gently touching the cervix with fingers once a day will help you notice how it changes throughout the cycle.
Use of the oral contraceptive pill has its consequences, sometimes long after you stop taking them. Why/how does it prevent pregnancy in the first place? It prevents a woman’s cervix from secreting fertile mucus. It also stops ovulation most of the time, alters tubal movements so that an egg moves down the fallopian tube too quickly, and also makes the uterus hostile to a fertilized egg.
Many women suffer from fertility issues for months or years after stopping the pill. I recommend you give it some time before trying to have a child if you just stopped taking the pill. Sorry, I know this is probably the last thing you want to hear. It could take anywhere from months to more than a year before your body resumes its own natural hormonal functioning. Know that miscarriages statistics are high for those who just stopped the pill – read that last sentence over again and take it to heart (for most folks, the only thing more devastating than failing to conceive is miscarriage.)
A few days after stopping taking the pill you might have spotting or bleeding – much like the false period you had while taking the pill. After the pill also some women have long mucus buildups with less than ten days from the last mucus day until menses.
Cervical mucus presence can show it going back and forth between fertile and infertile, then over the months, the pattern will become clearer. Give it a little time, wait until your signs show you are normalizing. Your temperature and cervical mucus discharges will illustrate how your body is recovering and when you are ready to conceive.
Combine checking, charting, and tuning into your cervical mucus along with basal body temperature. You’ll have a strong indicator of whether your are fertile or not in just a month.
Needless to say, if you are currently taking the pill you cannot learn the mucus method.