Thanks to this country’s terrifying and, at times terribly ill-informed sex education classes, getting pregnant may seem super simple. Unfortunately for some couples, conceiving a child isn’t as simple as forgetting to use birth control. Often times, getting pregnant requires a lot of patience and knowledge. (And, you know, sex.) There are several terms to know when trying to conceive in order to give yourself the best chance at becoming a parent. Questions like what does BBT mean and how do I track my cycle can come up when trying to conceive, and knowing the answer could improve your chance of becoming pregnant.
But that doesn't mean being a know-it-all guarantees your pregnancy. Even if a healthy couple does everything right and hits the exact window of opportunity, there is only a 25 percent chance they will become pregnant. When you’re trying to conceive, that seems like pretty dismal odds. But the more you know about your body, the more in control you can feel about your chances. It sounds complicated, but knowing a few terms will make it seem less daunting and more natural. You don’t have to be on a strict sex schedule, but if you can time the act to happen right when your body is releasing an egg, why not? Here are nine terms to know when you’re trying to conceive.
One of the best ways to discover when you’ll ovulate is by tracking your basal body temperature, or BBT. According to Mayo Clinic, this is the temperature your body is at when you’re at complete rest and will increase slightly when you’re ovulating. By checking your temperature at the same time every morning, you can determine if your body has ovulated. But since BBT increases post-ovulation, it is important to pair this method with other fertility checks.
2. Cycle Day
If you’re not already tracking your period each month, now is a great time to start. According to Women's Health.Gov, a cycle day is a numbered day to track the length of your cycle. The day your period starts,for example, is day one of your cycle. The days add up until you start your next period. The average cycle length is around 28 days, but many women experience longer and shorter cycles. Knowing how many days you have in your cycle will help you pinpoint your most fertile times, and you’ll be able to keep an eye on any abnormally long or short cycles.
Like orgasm, ovulation is another important O-word when it comes to sex. Medical News Today notes that ovulation is the act of an egg being released from your ovary and ready to be fertilized. If you are healthy and aren’t suffering from any reproductive problems, your body should release one each month. When not fertilized, this egg passes through your menstrual cycle. But when you arrange a meet-and-greet between your egg and sperm, you’re on your way to making a baby. The trick with ovulation is that your egg only lives 12 to 24 hours after being released from the ovary. That’s not a lot of time, so it’s important to track your cycle to find out which day your body ovulates so you can have your best chance at getting pregnant.
4. Luteal Phase
The American Pregnancy Association defines the luteal phase as the second half of your cycle, and begins from the day of ovulation until your next period. Knowing how long this phase is can be beneficial when it comes to tracking your periods and preparing for conception. Your luteal phase will most likely last 12 to 16 days, so if your cycle is longer than usual, it can be because you ovulated later.
5. Cervical Mucus
One of those other fertility checks? Cervical mucus. Although this sounds gross, it’s a great way to figure out when you’re most fertile. Parenting notes that cervical mucus protects your cervix each month, acting as a roadblock to sperm. But when your body is preparing to release an egg, the consistency of your cervical mucus changes to an egg-white texture to help the sperm move along to the egg. To check if your cervical mucus is fertile, wash your hands, and insert one finger into your vagina. After removing it, check the color and consistency of the mucus, and use another finger to see if it will stretch, like egg whites.
6. Fertility Window
Knowing your ovulation day is important, but it’s not the only time you can conceive. Parenting notes that your fertile window is the time when your body is most fertile, usually five days before ovulation until the day you actually ovulate. Because sperm can live for up to five days and your egg is only viable for 24 hours, having sex within the five days leading up to ovulation is your best chance for becoming a mom-to-be.
7. Sperm-Friendly Lubricants
If you’re planning on using a lubricant while trying to conceive, you might want to check out some more natural options. Most commercial brands of lubricant can harm sperm, affecting its motility and decreasing its quality. If you need a lube to get it on, try something natural like coconut oil or a sperm-friendly brand, like Pre-Seed.
You’ve done the deed, you’ve hit your fertility window, and now you wait. But what’s going on in there? If your egg has been fertilized, your body is busy at work maintaining this pregnancy. The fertilized egg will implant itself into your uterine lining. Once that’s done, the American Pregnancy Association notes that human chorionic gonadotropin hormone, or HCG, is produced by the placenta. This triggers your pregnancy test to form two pink lines and eventually causes all those dreaded pregnancy symptoms.
9. Implantation Bleeding
Just because you spotted blood in your underwear doesn’t mean you have to grab the tampons. Mayo Clinic notes that Implantation bleeding isn’t experienced by everyone, but it can be a sign that your fertilized egg has implanted and that you’re pregnant. Lighter than a normal period, it can occur as spotting, or a light flow. It can happen around the time you would normally expect your period, but will stop on its own.