How can you calculate your fertile days to become a mom?
Every month there are several days when a woman’s fertile window is open. These days are based on your menstrual cycle, so if your periods are regular it won’t be difficult to determine which days of the month are the best ones to conceive and achieve your dream of becoming a mom.
To calculate your fertile days each month you need to understand two things very clearly:
- The date of the first day of your cycle. Your cycle begins with each period, so make note of the date of the first day of your period. To make things easier and not get confused, write down the exact day your period begins each month (for at least three or four months), so that it becomes easier to remember. You can write it down on a calendar or even on your mobile phone. There are mobile apps which simplify this process, but you need to be careful as not all apps are reliable. Our recommendation is to track the days yourself.
- The average length of your menstrual cycle. We’re referring to the number of days between day one of your period and day one of the next. For example, if one period starts on 10th November and the next one on 3rd December, your cycles are 28 days long. There may be variations between one cycle and the next, and this is completely normal. This is why we recommend calculating the average length of your cycle once you have the numbers from three or four months in a row.
Your fertile days are those around the time of ovulation. And the days prior to ovulation are best. Normally, a woman ovulates 14 days before her period begins. For a regular, 28‑day cycle, ovulation takes place on cycle day 14. In a shorter cycle though, for example one lasting 25 days, ovulation occurs around cycle day 11. To determine when ovulation takes place in your body, you need to subtract 14 (the number of days the luteal phase lasts), from the length of your cycle.
Your fertile time is not only the day of ovulation, however, as it’s also possible to conceive approximately four days before and after the date of ovulation, though the days prior to ovulation are best. If you want to conceive, it’s recommended that you have unprotected intercourse with your partner on those days.
What happens when your cycles are irregular
Irregular cycles are cycles whose length varies from one month to the next. A cycle lasts 26 days, the next one 32 days, then 27 days, etc. Sometimes you can even skip a month and miss a cycle. This is normal after your first period. Later, once your hormones have stabilised, cycles should be more regular.
If you are irregular, we first recommend that you visit your gynaecologist to rule out that your irregular cycles are caused by some condition or hormone imbalance that needs to be monitored (polycystic ovaries, cysts on the ovaries, etc.).
When there isn’t a specific reason why your cycles are irregular, calculating your fertile days each month can be much more complicated and we won’t be able to know for sure which days are best for conceiving. In this case you’ll need to pay attention to other signs:
Cervical mucus. When your fertile days begin you will have increased cervical mucus that is clear and stretchy (like egg whites). This is what your cervical mucus will look like the days prior to ovulation and you’ll know it’s time to have unprotected intercourse.
Ovulation tests. You can purchase them at any pharmacy and they’re normally pretty reliable. They measure the rise in the ovulation hormone (luteinizing hormone) in your urine. You should take this test for several consecutive days. When there is a rise in LH, the test will come back positive and that’s when you should start having unprotected intercourse as ovulation will occur about 36 hours later.
Basal body temperature. Take your basal temperature (your temperature right when you wake up), every day before getting out of bed, at the same time, with the same thermometer, in the same place (mouth, underarm…). When you see that your temperature rises 0.2 to 0.5 degrees centigrade above your normal temperature, this will mean that ovulation has taken place. You can write down this date for future reference, as your most fertile days are those prior to ovulation.
All this fuss around dates, etc. can be stressful for some couples. If you don’t want to have to worry about tracking dates, times, temperatures… our recommendation, if you want to conceive, is to have unprotected intercourse two to three times a week.
If you haven’t conceived after twelve months, then we advise that you think about seeing an assisted reproduction specialist in order to become a mum.
When thinking about maternity you must pay special attention to your age. Our recommendation in this regard is straightforward: if you are 35 or older… don’t wait more than 6 months to contact a fertility specialist if you haven’t conceived naturally! Remember that a female’s age is a determining factor when it comes to her fertility.