Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Track Your Cycle

Pregnancy achievement can be a touchy subject for some women who long to have a baby and expand their family. Some women have difficulty becoming pregnant while others seem very fertile. I have been using the "Fertility Awareness Method" to track my fertility for a few years. If you are having difficulty becoming pregnant, I believe this is the first step in understanding your cycle. You will learn how to track exactly what days you are ovulating. In addition, you will be able to track your most fertile days. This is why this is also an effective form of birth control.

When you become pregnant, your care giver will most likely give you a "due date" based in your LMP (last menstrual period). They will determine a "due date" based on a 28 day cycle.That is assuming you ovulated on day 14. Some women may ovulate as early as day 10 or as late as day 26 or later. Essentially, you can get pregnant while on your period if it lasts for 5-6 days, although it is rare.

A "normal" cycle starts on day 1 with your period. On day 14 you will ovulate and on day 28 you will start your period again.
But, this isn't the case for all women. If you start your period on day 1 and ovulate on day 21, then you will not have your period on day 28. Your period will most likely come 12-16 days after you ovulate. So, you will have your period on day 33 or 37.

Sperm can live up to five days on fertile cervical mucous (eggwhites...explained below). If you have intercourse on day 14 assuming that is the day you ovulate but then you acutally ovulate on day 21, then you will not get pregnant. Charting your cycle will significantly help you in understanding your body and when you ovulate. You will also understand all the "fluids" that are coming out down there.

One sign of pregnancy is missing your period. You are considered pregnant from the first day of your last period. That means that if you have a normal 28 day cycle and you take a pregnancy test the day after your miss period, you are already just over two weeks pregnant.

Types of Cervical Mucous

Cervical mucous can be dry, sticky, creamy, or egg white consistency. You will want to record the type of cervical mucous you have on your fertility chart. If you do not want to use the fertility awareness method of charting, you can simply watch for fertile signs. What you are looking for is an increase in cervical mucous. Cervical mucous during ovulation has the appearance of eggwhite. If you are charting it is a good idea to write down what kind of cervical mucous you have during your cycle. This will help you to establish the most fertile days of your cycle. You can also watch for the day that your temperature shifts on the bbt (basal body temperature) chart. Your temperature will rise when you complete ovulation and go back down when you start your period again. You can also and detect what kind of cervical mucous you are having. If you are having a hard time deciding what your most fertile cervical fluid looks and feels like, having your chart to look at can be a guide. This is explained more in depth in the book "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" by Toni Weschler.

These are the types of mucous you will see during your menstrual cycle.

Dry: At the beginning of your cycle, prior to ovulation you will likely produce little to no cervical mucous. Also right before your period should start your cervical mucous may become dry again. If you do not notice cervical mucous you will want to record this on your chart as dry.
Sticky: You may notice sticky cervical mucous prior to ovulation. It feels sticky to your fingers when you touch it.
Creamy: As you get closer to ovulation you will notice thicker, creamy-looking cervical mucous. This mucous looks and feels similar to lotion.
Eggwhite: Eggwhite cervical mucous is the term used to describe the mucous you have during ovulation. It looks like eggwhites and is slippery, clear, and stretchy.
Watery: Watery cervical mucous is wet and may be stretchy. You may notice this type of cervical mucous during ovulation or before having eggwhite cervical mucous.

Cervical Position and Ovulation

You may want to check the position of your cervix to help you tell when you are ovulating. Not all women are comfortable with this and some women have a difficult time feeling their cervix. To find your cervix you may want to be in a squatting position or have one foot on a stool. Insert one or two fingers into your vagina and push them towards the back of your vagina. You will reach a spot that feels firmer than the rest of your vagina. Your cervix may feel soft like your lips or firm like the tip of your nose. You may notice your cervix feeling more open or closed. Find a comfortable position to check your cervix and use the same position each time you check. If you use a different position, you won't be able to compare the position of your cervix accurately. It may take you a cycle or two to determine when your cervix is softest, firmest, highest or lowest. Right after menstruation, your cervix will be low and easier for you to reach. It will feel firmer and closed. During ovulation your cervix will be higher and more difficult to reach. It will also feel soft, wet and you may notice it feeling more open. If you have given birth before your cervix may feel more open than someone who has not. After ovulation, your cervix normally returns to a more firm, lower position.

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