Throughout your monthly cycle, there are many different signs that you can keep an eye out for when looking for the tell tale signs of fertility. Being aware of and keeping up to date with your own fertility cycle will help you to pinpoint your body’s own way of telling you when you are at your most fertile, improving your chances of being able to conceive.
Understanding your menstrual cycle
There are 2 phases to your menstrual cycle:
- Follicular Phase: From day 1 of your menstrual cycle (when your period begins with a flow) until ovulation. This phase is also called the low phase or estrogen phase. The estrogen promotes follicle development and thickening of the uterus
- Luteal Phase: From ovulation until the end of your period (usually 12-16 days). This phase is called the high phase and progesterone is the hormone that maintains this phase. If you have conceived, the progesterone maintains the pregnancy. If shorter than 12 days then it is likely you have a ‘luteal phase defect’
Mid-cycle is when you ovulate
Please note: The day of ovulation will determine your cycle length – not the first day of your period.
Recording a daily fertility diary or chart is one of the best ways to do this, and you should keep your eye out for these three main signs:
1. Waking Body Temperature (You will need a Basal Thermometer to Measure This)
One of the most common signs that you are in your fertile period is an increase in your basal, or waking, body temperature (BBT).
These temperature variations are slight, so you will need a basal thermometer to accurately chart your results. A Basal Thermometer is specifically designed for measuring slighter than normal fluctuations in temperature. They are accurate to +/-0.05 degrees centigrade, measuring to two decimal places. There are several ‘fertility’ thermometers on the market these days, but as long as it’s a basal thermometer, you’re set.
During the first half of your cycle, in the follicular phase, your typical waking temperature can range from 36.1 to 36.6 degrees. Wherever you sit within that range it’s best the temperatures stay steady with little fluctuation between days. The day before ovulation you may see a small temperature dip or you may not. The day after you ovulate there should be a good rise of about one (1) degree, signalling that you have entered the luteal phase, where temperatures should sit steadily in the 36.7 to 37 degree range. Sometimes this rise happens slowly over about 3 days.
The best way to make use of your waking BBT as an indicator of fertility is to keep a record or graph of your temperatures each morning. You need to take it immediately on waking without moving a lot and have at least 5 hours uninterrupted sleep for a reliable reading. Record your temperature each morning using one of the many apps available on the internet, such as Fertility Friend, that include a temperature graph. We also have graphs available at the clinic.
Once you’ve charted three cycles you can then look for patterns of raised and lowered temperatures to help you determine when you are your most fertile. As mentioned, your temperature will be lower before ovulation and higher afterwards. Don’t forget that there are other factors which could affect how cold or warm you are upon waking up.
If your temperatures are too low or too high it might indicate there is a thyroid issue or some underlying gynaecological condition that is affecting your fertility.
I frequently see women at East West Fertility who have an under-functioning thyroid. When they improve their metabolism, this may be reflected in a change in the BBT. Traditional Chinese herbs such as Astragalus and Ginseng have been used to support thyroid health, as well as the anti-oxident supplement selenium to reduce stress and assist the immune system.
2. Cervical Fluid
Cervical fluid or mucus is another main fertility indicator that you will need to keep your eye on throughout the month. You may or may not have already noticed that your cervical mucus will change in both quality and viscosity throughout your cycle.
Cervical mucus changes with fluctuations in hormones. Following your period, the mucus will typically be dry before becoming sticky, then creamy, then watery, before its most fertile state – clear, slippery and stretchy. Highly fertile mucus looks like raw egg white, which helps the sperm reach the egg, and provides an alkaline protection from the vagina’s acidic environment.
Taking note of the changes in your cervical fluid throughout the month will help you to determine when you are at your most fertile. Whilst ovulating, your cervical fluid will be of its highest quality with a slippery and stretchy consistency.
Many women who are concerned about dryness or the quantity, appearance or quality of their cervical fluid have visited East West Fertility to explore what complementary treatments in addition to traditional treatments may offer.
Many women choose to explore a holistic approach, combining Traditional Chinese herbs with acupuncture and treatment from their GP or specialist. While studies are inconclusive, some studies suggest that Acupuncture reduces stress (which can impede fertility).
There are several Chinese herbal preparations, including Liu We Di Huang Wang, that have been traditionally used for cervical fluid issues.
3. Cervical Position
As with the cervical fluid, your cervix also prepares for conception and is therefore the most ‘ready’ during ovulation. During ovulation, your cervix will change to become soft and open, allowing sperm easier passage into the womb. The cervical should feel high, soft and wet when you are at your most fertile.
You could also experience….
- Breast tenderness and sensitivity
- Increased libido
- Increased energy level
- Heightened sense of vision, smell and taste
- Water retention
I highly recommend all women get to know their individual cycles and become familiar with taking temperatures, recognizing the different types of cervical mucous and interpreting the different positions of the cervix.
You could also…
Use an Ovulation Prediction Kit or an Ovulation Microscope (Saliva test) to add one more way of identifying ovulation.
An Ovulation microscope is a handheld mini-microscope which uses saliva to determine your fertile phase. When you’re fertile, the saliva has a ‘ferning’ appearance, a different pattern from when you are outside your fertile phase. And what’s more once you are pregnant it can also give you an early clue as the “ferning” continues as your hCG (the pregnancy hormone) levels rise.
By keeping an eye on these three fertility ‘indictors’, you may be able to improve your chances of conception by more accurately predicting the day on which you ovulate.
Many women that want to achieve a healthy mum AND a healthy baby have come to see Jenny for a customised and adjunctive holistic plan. Contact Jenny from East West Fertility today. Appointments can be booked via our website contact page.