So you’re dreaming of tiny overalls, pint-sized Mary Jane shoes, and a tiny tush that smells like talcum powder? Waiting to see those two lines that show you’ll be transitioning from a couple to a family? This is an exciting time in your life, so you want to be able to enjoy it as much as possible! Savor all the anxiety, nervousness, joy, and fear that you are experiencing as a would-be first-time-parent.
You may be one of those people who want to do everything they can to ensure success. If so, you’ll want to get to know your body’s fertility signs so that you can tell when’s the best time to get busy! It can wear on a relationship to try to have sex every day or every other day, so you may want to target your “getting it on” to the times most likely to result in pregnancy.
There are a few different ways you can read your body to get to know your cycle; we will go through a quick run-down of all the natural methods you can use to predict your fertility days!
Calendar Method/Rhythm Method
The first method is called the calendar method, or the rhythm method. It is one of the oldest and most common fertility predictors, although it is not terribly accurate. It gives you a broad range of days in which you could be fertile. Although it is not necessarily the most accurate, it takes the least work.
So here’s how: just record when your period starts each month for several months (also record when your period ends, if you want, although it is not necessary). The first day of your period is the first day of your cycle. Your cycles will likely all be slightly different lengths. Take the length of your shortest cycle and subtract 18 (so if your shortest cycle is 28 days, your number is 10). Then take the number of your longest cycle and subtract 11 (so if your longest cycle is 34 days, subtract 11 to get 23). So your “fertile days” in your cycle are days 10 through 23. “Fertile days” is in quotation marks because you are not fertile every day of those 13 days (you are usually only fertile for 2 days in a cycle), but your actual fertile days fall within those 13 days! So if you are using this method to get pregnant, you will want to get busy every day or every other day for those days in your cycle.
Cervical Mucus Method
This method is more accurate, but is slightly more work (and has a higher chance that you’ll forget to do it!). Cervical mucus is the “wetness” in the vagina that allows sex to be comfortable and pleasurable for women. Mucus changes throughout the cycle due to hormones, and you can examine your cervical mucus to determine when your time to conceive is!
When your egg matures and is released, your body experiences a surge of progesterone in order to develop the uterine lining so that the fertilized egg can implant itself into the uterine lining. Those hormones are the ones that change the mucus into a sticky, light consistency with plentiful volume. That is so that the mucus can transport the sperm into the cervix in order to fertilize the egg.
Either you can use this method as a guide of whether or not you are fertile on any given day, or you can use it to track your cycles, as in the rhythm method above. First thing in the morning as you’re sitting on the toilet, take a moment and examine your cervical mucus. Either you can write it down on your calendar or you can simply make a mental note of its consistency and whether today seems like a fertile day or not.
Basal Body Temperature
This method is approximately as effective as the cervical mucus method, and it does require a fair amount of “morning rememberingness!” In this method, you need to measure your temperature first thing when you wake up in the morning, before you get out of bed or do any activity at all.
What happens in your body is that the same surge of progesterone that kicks your mucus into “high gear” also causes a slight rise in your body temperature. The kicker is that basically the only movement your body can make is to grab the thermometer, as any extra movement will raise your temp and give an unclear reading. So it has to be first thing in the morning, or nothing (hence “morning rememberingness”).
So you take your temp every morning and write down your number on your calendar. You have to be pretty precise, since your temp will only change from around ½ degree to a full degree Fahrenheit. Your body temp increase will show you when your egg has been released and your uterus is growing a thick lining. Track this cycle for several months, so that you’ll be able to predict when your temp increase will occur. You will want to start having sex a couple of days before you predict your BBT will increase, so this really works best when you have been tracking for a while and are very confident.
This one is likely the most challenging natural fertility method, and requires a great deal of knowledge of your body. Your cervix is the rounded, somewhat spongy piece at the end of your vagina. It changes position throughout your cycle, so if you can learn to read these positions, you can get a sense of where you are in your cycle.
When you’re sitting on the toilet, insert your middle finger into your vagina and feel your cervix at different times throughout your cycle. It is lower during non-fertile times, and sits higher when you are fertile. This is one you’ll have to play around with to figure out how to read your body’s cues.
It’s always best to understand your body and to take charge of your fertility. Good luck!