I am continuously amazed with how little we women tend to know about our bodies. Remember sex education class in 6th or 7th or 8th grade when we didn’t pay any attention and spend the whole class rolling our eyes and giggling? Did you have to put a condom on a banana too? Well, long gone are the days (for most of us) of trying to prevent a pregnancy and hello to the days of “ttc” (which I finally figured out in forum-speak means “trying to conceive” – yeah, I think I just dated myself).
Many of the women I speak to about trying for a baby shock me when they are frustrated because having sex on “magic Day 14” of their cycle didn’t produce a baby. And when you are wanting a baby, every month that your period comes is really tough to handle emotionally. So, let’s talk Baby-Making 101 in hopes that a little bit of information here can shed some light on your fertility cycle and hopefully result in some “ah-ha” light bulbs turning on in your head. If nothing else, maybe it will result in a few laughs and some fun in the bedroom?!?! who knows…
*Disclaimer (gotta have it, right?) I am not a licensed medical practitioner and I have no formal training as a fertility awareness educator. Please use this information as opinion only and always seek the advice of a trained health professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before seeking any treatment. Any information received from this blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure. This site is for information purposes only. The information on this blog is not intended to replace proper medical care.
Frequently Believed, But Not Always True statements about women’s fertility cycles:
- “I always ovulate on Day 14.” Usually, that’s a no. This idea comes from the medical model of a 28 day menstrual cycle. Just because the “pill” artificially creates a 28 day cycle, doesn’t mean this is normal for every woman. Many women do NOT have a 28 day cycle. Actually, a “normal” menstrual cycle (also called fertility cycle) can be anywhere form 24-36 days long. Even women who have a 28 day cycle may not actually ovulate on Day 14. Most women consistently have 12-16 days between ovulation and the first day of menstruation. So, if you had a 32 day cycle, you would likely be ovulating sometime between Day 16-Day 20. (Day 1 is always the first day of bleeding in a menstrual cycle.)
- “I’m only fertile for one day of my cycle.” No way woman, how would we ever have such a huge world population?!? Sperm can live for up to 5 days inside the woman’s reproductive tract. This means that you could have sex 5 days before you ovulate and still make a baby! Alternatively, an egg can survive for up to 24 hours so you could have sex 1 or even 2 days after you ovulate and also conceive. So with these two facts combined, there are about 6-7 fertile days in a woman’s cycle.
- “If I am charting my BBT (see below) I know I ovulate when my temperature rises.” Nope, you probably missed it 😦 Usually by the time the temperature rises, the egg has already gone (by the time the temperature shows a rise, the 12-24 hour viability window for the egg has passed). Therefore if you are TTC, you need to focus more on cervical fluid than on BBT. However, BBT can be useful for other reasons. (Basal Body Temperature, or the waking temperature, is the temperature of the body at rest after at least 3 hours uninterrupted sleep. It is therefore recorded immediately on waking, before getting out of bed, and before any food or drink is taken.)
OK, so if what you just read makes you wonder about other fertility related information you don’t know or want to hear more about, let me give you some basic pointers on trying to conceive and some great websites to read more on.
First of all, DON’T STRESS OUT over all this. I know, I know, easier said than done. There’s a lot of information out there and you may feel like you want to know everything RIGHT NOW so you can make that baby. I know that time is not your friend when wanting to conceive, but stress is also not your friend. Stress, both physical and emotional) can actually delay ovulation. So if you are wanting to conceive ASAP then I suggest that you and your partner take a class or work with a FAM counselor. Many family planning health centers, church-affiliated programs, and Catholic hospitals offer low-cost or free FAM classes. Be aware that classes affiliated with religious institutions may reflect beliefs about sex and family planning that are different from yours. If you prefer nonsectarian instruction, get a referral from a Planned Parenthood health center, your state or county health department, or a women’s clinic that isn’t affiliated with a religious group.
Second, start reading a little bit about your fertility cycle. I think a great website to start with is Taking Charge of Your Fertility, which is also associated with the book bearing the same title. It’s got some straightforward, good info but do consider getting the book for more in depth info. Information is empowering. Knowing more about your fertility will help you achieve your goals faster!
Third, take some care in giving your body the nutrition it needs be in an optimal fertile state. Did you know that what you do or do not eat can affect your fertility? For example, Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, like salmon, can help increase blood flow to places like the uterus, which can aid in implantation of the fertilized egg. These essential fats are also crucial to proper fetal brain development. Eat organic as much as possible. The pesticides and herbicides, antibiotics and hormones found in conventional foods can disrupt the hormones in your body increasing chances of infertility. Hydration (or lack thereof) can play a huge role in fertility as well. These are just a few tips on how nutrition and lifestyle can affect fertility.
Ok, now happy baby making!