Most of us are taught in school that falling pregnant can happen anytime we have unprotected sex. But, that’s not the case.
In fact, there are only a few days each cycle where our bodies are ready to conceive, known as our fertile window. While the exact timing of this fertile window is different for all of us, there are a range of common signs and symptoms to look out for when tracking your cycle.
Plus, by understanding our fertile window we can maximise our chances of conceiving naturally each cycle. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about your fertile window and how to boost your fertility health, naturally.
What is a fertile window?
As we chatted about in a recent blog, our menstrual cycle typically lasts for around 28 days and occurs to help the body prepare for possible pregnancy.
At each stage of our menstrual cycle, we experience different hormone levels which control a range of processes throughout our body. From sparking our menstrual bleed to preparing the uterus for potential pregnancy, our body goes through a range of important changes each cycle.
That’s where our fertile window comes in. This term relates to when our body is primed and ready to support a potential pregnancy. Our fertile window is marked by the day an egg is released from our ovaries (ovulation). But, many believe this fertile window begins up to five days before ovulation occurs.
Why is it important to track your fertile window?
To understand why our fertile window matters, it’s important to look at the process of ovulation in a bit more detail.
Ovulation is the third stage of our menstrual cycle, and usually occurs two weeks before our period begins. At this time in our cycle, a mature egg is released from our ovaries and moves down our fallopian tube, ready and waiting to be fertilsed.
During this time, our chance of falling pregnant naturally is at its peak. If a sperm does reach our egg at this point, there is a good chance our egg will be fertilised, turn into an embryo and potentially create a pregnancy.
But, our fertile window only lasts for a few days prior to ovulation and for 12 to 24 hours after ovulation. In fact, our most fertile time is the three days leading up to ovulation (with up to a 33% chance of conceiving if we have sex during this time). After this time, our chances of pregnancy rapidly decline as our mature is no longer present in our fallopian tube.
As our mature egg only has a lifespan of 24 hours after ovulation, tracking our fertile window is what will give us the best chance of falling pregnant successfully.
What signs might indicate that you’re ovulating?
Each of us have a different menstrual cycle, which means it’s tricky to predict exactly when ovulation will occur each month. As a starting point, our menstrual start begins from the first of our period to the first day of our next period.
While the typical length of our menstrual cycle is 28 days, this changes greatly from woman to woman (and even month to month if we have irregular periods). If we take a typical 28 day cycle as an example, you’d expect the best chance of conceiving to be between days 11 and 14 of your cycle.
But one of the best measures of when we’re ovulating is to track our physical symptoms. Some of the signs of ovulation can include:
Changes in mucus: our vaginal mucus changes in colour and consistency throughout our cycle. Around ovulation, you might notice your mucus is clear, stretchy and a similar consistency to egg whites. Once ovulation is over, this mucus will change to a cloudy, thick consistency (or even disappear entirely).
Changes in body temperature: at the time of ovulation, some women notice their body temperature increase slightly, often by half a degree celsius. To track this change, you’ll need to use a special thermometer every morning before you get out of bed. By recording your temperature on a daily basis, you’ll be able to see patterns emerge that might help you pinpoint when ovulation is about to begin.
- Other physical symptoms: there are other changes some women experience in the lead up to ovulation, including mild abdominal cramps, breast tenderness and even increased libido.
Another helpful way to predict when ovulation will occur is to use ovulation calculators and kits. Sites such as YourFertility.org.au offer free online calendars to help you track ovulation based on your last period and the length of your cycle.
Plus, there are ovulation kits you can purchase from the pharmacy that test your hormone levels to predict when ovulation will occur. You can even order a blood test from your doctor to detect ovulation by measuring your levels of progesterone.
What other natural ways can we boost our fertility health?
While tracking our fertile window and understanding when we ovulate is a key part of natural family planning, there are other practical steps we can take to improve our chances of conceiving naturally.
These steps include:
Limiting our intake of caffeine and alcohol will help improve our overall health in preparation for a potential pregnancy
Switching to natural cleaning product (and limiting our exposure to household cleaners and chemicals) can boost our reproductive health
Boosting our intake of folate and iron can help prepare the body for pregnancy
Eating a balanced, whole food diet ensures we’re getting the right vitamins and nutrients to support optimal wellbeing
- Adding two scoops of our Female Elixir to your diet can assist our fertility health by balancing our hormone levels and supporting good egg quality
The better we understand our own bodies, the better we’ll be able to predict important stages of our menstrual cycle (such as our fertile window). By tracking when we ovulate each month, we’ll be able to maximise our chances of conceiving naturally. Plus, by making a few easy switches to our diet, we can naturally improve our fertility health.