When it comes to the “are you fertile?” question, it applies to both men and women. For pregnancy to occur, the man and the woman involved must both be fertile. Being fertile refers to the ability of a person to produce offspring. For the sake of this discussion, we’ll be focusing on fertility in women.
For a woman, being fertile is the ability to get pregnant after regular unprotected sexual intercourse within a specified period. The health of your reproductive system plays a vital role in your fertility. Your reproductive system consists of the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the womb. Most schools of thought include “the ability to stay pregnant for full term” in the criteria to define a fertile woman.
Monitoring your fertility can help you determine how and when to get pregnant.
Ovulation, fertility, LMP, TTC, FSH, etc. These are just some of the words and acronyms you may come across once you decide it’s time to get pregnant.
Your Menstrual Cycle & Your Fertility
Your menstrual cycle is the major predictor of your fertility. A good place to start your TTC (Trying To Conceive) journey will be to know your LMP (last menstrual period). Your LMP is the first day of your most recent period, i.e. day 1. Most women have a menstrual cycle of between 21 to 35 days. The length of your cycle should be predictable. An unpredictable or irregular menstrual cycle can signify an underlying problem with your reproductive system.
The menstrual cycle is divided into four phases: The Menstrual Phase, The Follicular Phase, The Ovulation Phase, and The Luteal Phase.
Of all the four phases, the ovulation phase is the only time when you can get pregnant. This is why in order for you to tell if you are fertile, you need to be familiar with the signs of ovulation.
The 2 major signs of ovulation are a slight increase in basal body temperature and a thicker, clear white vaginal discharge. Ovulation usually lasts for only 24 hours.
Are you fertile enough to get pregnant?
You are ready to get pregnant, and you are wondering how long the trying-to-conceive (TTC) journey would be. It is important to be aware of how your body works and how ready you are to carry a healthy pregnancy to full term.
That you didn’t get pregnant in the first month that you started trying doesn’t mean you are infertile. There could be some variations in the menstrual cycle from one month to the other. Let us look at the definition of infertility.
“Infertility is defined as a disability and a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sex according to the WHO
Depending on your age at the time of TTC, you will not be termed as infertile until between 6 months to one year of you trying to conceive. You can make the journey easier by being familiar with some signs of fertility. To get familiar with these signs, do the following:
- Know your menstrual cycle length: For the next 3 months, record the first day of your period, count the days from day 1 to the day 1 of the next month. This should give you an idea of your cycle length. Tracking the days of your menstrual cycle is essential to the whole process of fertility. It is believed that most women ovulate at around 14 days before the next cycle begins, meaning on the 14th day of your cycle if your cycle length is 28 days, on the 18th day of your cycle if your cycle length is 32 days, and so on and so forth.
- Start checking your cervical mucus: The cervical mucus varies in appearance and texture depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle. During ovulation, the mucus becomes thicker, stretchier, and clear like egg-white.
- Start checking your basal body temperature. Basal body temperature is your lowest body temperature during a period of rest, and it’s particularly useful in estimating the day of ovulation. Get a thermometer to measure your temperature every morning before you get out of bed or get involved in any activities. Take this reading at the same time everyday and record it. Your basal body temperature usually drops right before ovulation, then increases rapidly after ovulation. This is an indication of your fertile window. Pay close attention because the increase can be as little as a 0.3-0.6 degrees Celsius.
- Check the position of your cervix. Immediately after your current or next period, insert your longest finger up your vagina, you should feel the cervix. It feels quite firm like the tip of the nose. Just after your period, the cervix stays low down in the vagina, so this should be easy for you to feel. The opening of the cervix feels like a depression in the center of the cervix. As the days progress to your fertile window, the cervix moves upward and becomes harder to feel. When you are about to ovulate, the cervix reopens in preparation to allow sperm in. This opening can also be an indication of fertility.
Practicing doing these 4 stated things will help you get better at predicting your fertility window.
You should keep in mind though that anything that goes wrong with any part of your reproductive system can make you infertile despite checking for these 4 things.
Some of the other problems that can cause infertility are blocked fallopian tubes, anovulation, endometriosis, etc. You should speak with a doctor on Whispa to get more insights into your fertility status.
Have a great time TTC.