Perhaps you have been trying to conceive for quite some time, or you are just starting to think about expanding your family and how to optimize your chances of conceiving. Either way, this article will help you understand how you can begin to notice your signs of fertility and when to time intercourse to achieve a pregnancy.
Firstly, let’s remind ourselves that for pregnancy to occur, a few requirements are necessary for conception. These are:
- Healthy fallopian tubes
- Healthy hormone levels and ovulatory function
- Healthy cervix producing the necessary mucus
- Healthy sperm
- Healthy endometrium
When you begin to chart your cycle, the aim is to learn to understand your body’s language in order to sense the time in your cycle when you are the most fertile.
As mentioned above, a healthy cervix producing the necessary mucus to nourish and channel the sperm to meet the ovum is absolutely essential for fertility. And when it comes to identifying the fertile time in your cycle, checking your cervical mucus is key!
The magical cervix producing cervical mucus
The cervix is the lower narrow portion of the uterus which joins with the vagina. It is lined with cells that respond to changing hormone levels such as oestrogen and progesterone and in response to these hormones, produces various types of cervical mucus.
When hormone levels are low, in the early days of the menstrual cycle and generally when menstruation has stopped, the cervix is blocked by a thick plug of mucus. This means that no sperm can enter the uterus and a woman is considered to be infertile during this time in her cycle.
As oestrogen levels begin to increase, the cervix responds and begins to produce a different kind of mucus that dissolves the mucus plug and technically opens the pathway into the uterus. Meaning that sperm can now enter the uterus and a woman is considered to be fertile.
The fertile window
When a woman begins to chart her cycle and cervical mucus changes, she will notice a change from her basic infertile pattern to a pattern of fertility. This can be sensed at the vulva. She may experience feeling more sticky, wet, or even slippery sensations.
She may notice this mucus pattern over a few days, where her pattern is changing and developing. Along with changes in sensation, she may also begin to visually see the mucus becoming more clear, watery, and even forming strings. This indicates that the cervix is producing the various forms of mucus necessary for fertility and to keep the sperm alive.
In order to identify the most fertile time in the cycle–the peak of fertility–a couple is encouraged to wait until the signs of peak fertility show up. This is when the mucus becomes more watery and with a slippery sensation, sometimes with a soft and swollen vulva. The peak of fertility is closely correlated to ovulation and therefore, intercourse is encouraged during this time and the following 1-2 days.
Some women produce less cervical mucus than others. However, that does not mean that they are infertile. Paying extra attention to the sensation will be helpful as even just a day of fertile mucus, sensing the change from dry to wet or slippery, and timing intercourse on that day can be enough for conception.
Keeping a record of your chart
Depending on the length of your menstrual cycle, the peak of fertility and ovulation may not always occur on day 14. This is why it is so essential to chart and keep a record of the cervical mucus changes that you experience throughout the cycle, daily. Ovulation does not always occur on the same day and some women experience shorter and longer cycles where ovulation may occur early or later in the cycle. Keeping a record is going to help identify when YOU ovulate.
There are various forms of natural fertility management and ways to chart your cycle. From the Billings Ovulation Method® perspective, keeping a record of the cervical mucus sensation and appearance is the most important, and really all that is necessary once you learn to use this method.
There are moments when fertility is postponed and a woman may not be ovulating. This can be due to previous use of hormonal contraceptives, mental and emotional stress, relative energy deficiency, and/or excessive exercise.
If you recently stopped hormonal contraception, you want to allow time for your body to balance and restore its ovulatory function, charting your cycle will help you to understand when your fertility is returning and your cycle has recovered.
There can be deeper underlying factors as to why couples struggle to conceive, such as PCOS, endometriosis, ovarian insufficiency, or poor sperm count. If this is the case, we recommend consulting with a healthcare professional or one of the naturopaths in our online clinic to get support along your fertility journey.
Finding the right time in the cycle for intercourse will optimize your chances of conceiving. In addition, by keeping a monthly chart, you will be able to identify the length of your cycle and its various phases. It gives you great insight into your reproductive health and will be a valuable tool for noticing any cycle imbalances requiring more attention.
If you are looking for more support on your fertility journey, our team of practitioners is here to guide and support you. So book your first consultation today to set up the best plan for optimizing your hormonal and reproductive health!
This article is written from a Billings Ovulation Method perspective. Hence the focus remains on cervical mucus production. If you would like to learn more about this method of natural fertility management, please reach out to our practitioner team.