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When you’re ready to start a family or keep it growing, there are a few things you’ll need to know. Here you’ll find out about your cycle after birth control, tracking ovulation for fertility and more.

Ovulation And Fertility

Around day 14, of your menstrual cycle ovulation occurs. Your hormones cause an egg to be released into the fallopian tubes to travel toward the uterus.

In order to get pregnant, your egg and your partners sperm must unite (ideally, within 12-24 hours) after ovulation. When this happens the fertilized egg will attach itself to the lining of the uterus and pregnancy occurs.

Because there are no outward changes to signal that ovulation has occurred, the first part of the menstrual cycle is the hardest to track. However, there are three methods that may help you keep track of your fertility.

Natural Ovulation Signs: The Basics

There are two different natural ways to monitor your ovulation. The methods are by Basal Body Temperature Charting & Elasticity of Cervical Mucus. These three indicators, when combined with charting, can be very effective ways to track your cycles, letting you know just when you are ovulating, and helping you increase your chances of conceiving.

Basal Body Temperature Method

What is a Basal Body Temperature?

BBT is the temperature of your body before any activity. Taken every morning, before you get out of bed, before ANY activity, with a basal thermometer, it’s your body’s baseline temp. Most women find that their body temperature is lower during the first part of their cycle. It will usually rise slightly (between 0.4 and 0.8 F) on the day of ovulation. It will usually stay up until just before the start of the next period. If a pregnancy occurs, temperature stays up past the day that the next period should begin.

What type of thermometer do I use?

For most women, 96 to 98 degrees taken orally is considered normal before ovulation and 97 to 99 after. The changes are small fractions (from 1/10 to 1/2 degree). To register these small variations accurately, it’s recommended that you use a Basal thermometer. They only register from 96 to 100 degrees F. You can find them at your local drug store.

Cervical Mucus Method

What is cervical mucus and how does it change?

Cervical mucus is produced by the lining of a woman’s cervical canal. During your monthly cycles, immediately after menstruation, you have several days of “no mucus” or dryness. It then usually becomes cloudy and gluey, then changing to clear and slippery just before ovulation. During this clear and slippery, “egg white” phase, it also will stretch between the fingers. This is a sign you are in your most fertile phase.

How can I check cervical mucus?

You can consult your doctor for this method, who will pick the Cervical mucus to check its changes in different phases of the cycle.

Early mucus is usually described by one of these terms: Scanty, not a lot present, the consistency is thick and sticky, it usually holds it shape. The color is white or opaque.

Next there is “Transitional stage”. Some of the characteristics of this stage are: Increasing amounts of mucus, mucus will be thinner, and cloudy in appearance and color. At this stage, it is slightly stretchy.

The final stage before ovulation is the “Highly fertile stage”. At this time, mucus will usually be visible in profuse amounts. It’s thin, and transparent. It’s often called “egg white cervical mucus” because of its stretchy properties.

Calendar Method

The calendar method involves keeping a written record of each menstrual cycle on a calendar. Here’s how it works:

  • The first day of your period is day 1. Circle it on the calendar.
  • Do this for eight months to one year so you know how many days are usually in your cycle. The length of your cycle may vary from month to month, so write down the total number of days it lasts each time.
  • To find out the first day you are most fertile, check your calendar for the cycle with the fewest days. Subtract 18 from that number. Take this new number and, starting on day 1 of that period, count ahead that many days on the calendar. Draw an X through this date. The X marks the first day of your cycle you’re likely to be fertile.
  • To find the last day you are most fertile, check your calendar for your longest cycle. Subtract 11 from that number. Take this new number and, starting on day 1 of that period, count backward that many days on the calendar. Draw an X through this date. The X marks the last day of your cycle you’re likely to be fertile.

The calendar method should be used with other tracking methods, especially if your cycles are not always the same length.

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