Your high school sex education class may not have taught you a lot about being sex-positive, but it most likely scared you into thinking you could get pregnant by simply looking at a penis. The fear tactics are strong in a lot of sex ed classes and, unfortunately, they often transition into adulthood. Before I became pregnant with my daughter, I did a lot of research and discovered that conceiving a baby isn't as easy as I was led to believe. But if you know how to check your fertility and the mechanics of making a baby, you can feel a little more in control of becoming pregnant.
A study published in the Human Reproduction Journal found that it can take up to a year, on average, for a healthy couple to conceive a child. That sounds like a long time, especially if you're desperate to have a baby, but it's a guideline to follow. The study was conducted by having healthy couples try to conceive during the times they thought they were most fertile, and according to the American Pregnancy Association, determining your fertility window is essential when trying for a baby.
But how do you do that? How can you determine if you're fertile and if your body is capable of making a baby?
It's not as hard as you think to start taking steps to find out if you're fertile at home. The American Pregnancy Association notes that one of the first questions about your fertility is if you're ovulating or not. Luckily, your body has some ovulation signs and a few ways to track it so you can look at every angle of your fertility.
1. Chart Your Menstrual Cycle
For starters, you need to know what kind of cycle and period you're dealing with. Irregular periods can make a difference in your fertility and having the basic information of how long your cycles last and how long you menstruate can help when determining your fertility.
2. Check Your Cervical Mucus
If you're not ovulating, then there's a problem. But you don't have to run out for expensive tests just yet. Start checking your cervical mucus every day and making note of the data. According to What to Expect, as your body is gearing up for ovulation, your cervical mucus will change its consistency to a stretchy, egg-white texture in order to help the sperm move along to the egg. When this mucus is present, it can mean ovulation is about to occur, making it easier for you to determine the best time to have sex.
3. Take Your Basal Body Temperature
Many assume that taking and recording your basal body temperature — the temperature of your body in the morning at complete rest, before you're even out of bed — can help you time intercourse, but it's a little more complex than that. Parenting notes that while a rise in your temperature can help you determine when you've ovulated, it's too late to time intercourse. Your BBT actually increases after your body releases the egg, so it's a great tool to use for checking your fertility. If your BBT never rises or if the pattern seems extremely erratic, it can give you some insight into your body's ovulation.
4. Chart Your Fertility Cycle
Whether you've been trying for six months or just came off birth control, it's a great idea to start charting your fertility cycle. The American Pregnancy Association notes that this is one of the absolute best ways to learn about your body and your fertility. It will not only help you determine when you're ovulating with the data from your cervical mucus and BBT, but it can also help you discover if you're ovulating. It's also extremely beneficial to have this cycle information if you have to see a doctor about your fertility.
5. Use A Fertility Monitor Or Ovulation Test
If you're having trouble charting your ovulation or seeing signs of it in your body, it might help to use a fertility monitor or ovulation test. The American Pregnancy Association notes that both the at-home test and the monitor can predict ovulation as well as determine if there is a surge in the luteinizing hormone that triggers your body to release an egg.
6. Go To Your Doctor For Testing
After a year of unprotected sex with your partner, a doctor will recommend that you begin fertility testing. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this can include a variety of testing such as an X-ray of your uterus and fallopian tubes, an ultrasound to determine the thickness of your uterus's lining, a hormone test, and an ovulation test. The outcomes of each test will either lead you to more testing or to an answer as to why you haven't conceived yet.