Fertile period, things to know

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Philippe Gloaguen
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Contents

  • 1 What is the fertile period 
  • 2 Stages of the menstrual cycle 
  • 3 How long is the fertile period 
  • 4 Fertile period and regular or irregular cycle 
  • 5 Symptoms of the fertile period 
  • 6 Measurement of basal temperature 
  • 7 Ovulation tests 
  • 8 Ultrasound monitoring of ovulation 
  • 9 Fertile period and pregnancy
  • 10 Fertile period as a contraceptive 
  • 11 Fertile period: find out more 

Who is looking for a pregnancy he knows very well what we are talking about. The fertile period is that "time window" in a woman's cycle in which it is easier for conception to occur. These are the "good" days in which to concentrate sexual relations with the aim of being able to have a baby as soon as possible. But is it the same for all? How long does it last? How to recognize it? Can it also be used "backwards", so as a contraceptive method? Let's go to the discovery of the fertile period. 



What is the fertile period 

It is the moment in which the woman is most fertile, precisely, and in which the sperm can fertilize an oocyte. In other words, it corresponds to the period in which a couple has the greatest chance of pregnancy starting. Therefore, it is important to know how to identify it and, consequently, “take advantage of it”. 

Stages of the menstrual cycle 

  • Menstrual phase: menstruation - that is, the loss of blood caused by the flaking of the endometrium if there has not been the fertilization of an oocyte and therefore the start of a pregnancy - coincides with the start of a new menstrual cycle. The first day of the loss in fact corresponds to the first day of the menstrual cycle. How long does this phase last? It depends. The average is 5-6 days, but it can be even less. Or even more. 
  • Follicular phase: it is also called proliferative and its duration is not the same for all women. If you have a normal cycle, typically 28 days, we can say that the follicular phase ends on the 14th day, presumably in conjunction with ovulation. During the follicular phase, follicles mature in the ovaries, which are the "support" for the oocytes.
  • Ovulatory phase: represents the peak of fertility. It begins when the follicle bursts and releases the egg which goes back up into the fallopian tubes. In general, in a 28-day cycle, ovulation occurs around the 14th. But beware: this is not a rule. Depending on the length of your period, you may ovulate earlier or later. That is why it is important to recognize the information the body transmits when this happens. 
  • Luteal phase: as it is easy to guess, the luteal phase is the one that goes from ovulation to the beginning of the next menstrual cycle. If fertilization has occurred, this is the period in which the body prepares to welcome and protect the "product of conception". If, on the other hand, all of this has not happened, it prepares for menstruation. In short, a kind of crossroads ...

How long is the fertile period 

On average, the fertile period lasts 5 days. It includes the 24 hours of ovulation (at the end of which the unfertilized oocyte dies) and a few days before ovulation. In fact, spermatozoa have the ability to resist inside the uterine cavity for several days. So, in fact, you can get pregnant even before actual ovulation.



Fertile period and regular or irregular cycle 

When you have a regular period, recognizing your fertile days is easier. The classic example is that of a 28-day cycle, considered almost "textbook". In this case, ovulation occurs on the 14th day. If we also add the previous 3-4 days, it is easy to have an idea of ​​the fertile period and to be able to concentrate relationships at that moment. 

It is quite another thing to have an irregular cycle that does not allow you to be sure about when you are ovulating. At that point all that remains is to observe the signals that the body sends (because they are there and are very useful) and also rely on other methods, such as ovulatory sticks or basal temperature measurement. 

Symptoms of the fertile period 

Let's review the symptoms that can occur during the fertile days: 

  • Increase of cervical mucus: in the fertile period the cervical mucus is transparent and more abundant and also changes consistency. It becomes almost "stringy", similar to egg white. You can probably also find it on briefs. The body makes the uterine cavity more welcoming to sperm, while also reducing normal acidity. After ovulation, the mucus tends to disappear. 
  • Basal body temperature rise: Concurrent with ovulation you may notice an increase in basal body temperature of about 3-5 tenths of a degree. This happens because the level of progesterone increases in the body. In a later paragraph we see how to measure it. 
  • Changes in the cervix: a woman may not realize this, but if for some reason the gynecologist monitors the fertile period she will notice. In the days leading up to ovulation, the cervix is ​​higher, softer and more open. 
  • Increased sexual desire: the peak of estrogen is reached in the 2-3 days before ovulation and leads to an increase in libido. It's better that way!

Basal temperature measurement 

Keeping your basal temperature under control can be a good way to monitor your cycle and "peck" the fertile days. The basal temperature is measured in the morning as soon as you wake up, possibly at the same time, after sleeping at least 4-5 hours in a row, before getting out of bed and going to the bathroom. It starts on the first day of the menstrual cycle and continues throughout the cycle. Always use the same thermometer: it can be the classic one or specific for tb. The temperature can be taken rectally, vaginally and orally. Be careful that there are no local inflammations that could interfere with the measurement (vaginitis, canker sores, gingivitis, hemorrhoids).



About 24 hours before ovulation you will notice a sudden drop in temperature. From now on and for the next two days, you will have a better chance of becoming pregnant. Over the next two days the temperature will tend to rise slightly and stay that way. If the upside lasts a long time and the cycle does not appear, there may be some good news!

It should be emphasized that the body temperature can be affected by various factors: viruses, irregular sleep, jet lag, alcohol intake, stress. Also, no days should be skipped.

Ovulation tests 

They are sticks similar to normal pregnancy tests and have a very simple purpose: to identify the days in which to "target" sexual intercourse to increase the chances of a pregnancy. These tests detect the presence of luteinizing hormone (LH). When its level increases, it means that the ovulatory phase is near and, consequently, you are already fertile. Typically, this happens 24-36 hours before ovulation. This is therefore the time to focus relationships. 

The LH hormone is found in urine, just like beta HCGs which indicate that the pregnancy has begun. You must then wet the stick either directly under the flow or by immersing it in a container where you have collected the urine and wait for the result. The advice is to always do these tests at the same time and possibly in the morning because the urine is more concentrated. In any case, you should avoid drinking a lot before taking the test and peeing for the previous 4 hours. When to use the tests? 2 to 4 days before the presumed ovulation.


Ultrasound monitoring of ovulation 

Often, especially if the pregnancy is slow to arrive, it is decided to rely on the gynecologist more carefully. In particular, the doctor may decide to carry out the so-called ultrasound monitoring in the days of ovulation. In practice, a daily transvaginal ultrasound is performed in order to observe the follicle and its growth, so as to be able to have sexual intercourse aimed at conception. 


Fertile period and pregnancy

Knowing more or less for sure what your fertile days are can be useful even when you are pregnant. It is therefore possible to somehow go back to conception and then calculate the weeks of pregnancy and also the expected date of delivery. 

Fertile period as a contraceptive 

Knowing your fertile period can also serve the "reverse" purpose of the one we have talked about so far. And that is, avoiding pregnancy. Defining it as a contraceptive would be inappropriate, but it is a system that can be used to avoid surprises. Identifying the fertile days will avoid sexual intercourse which will be concentrated in the other phases of the cycle. 

However, security is not guaranteed. Unless you have an extremely punctual and precise cycle, ovulation could occur in a different period than you think. If pregnancy is not welcome (and obviously we do not go into the merits of the reasons), it is advisable to look for a safer method of contraception, from condoms to hormonal contraceptives. Remember - if needed - that interrupted coitus is not one of these. 

Fertile period: find out more 

On conception and fertility we also recommend reading:

Calculate ovulation to get pregnant quickly
Fertility, the right diet to increase it
Conception: what to do and what to avoid
Fertility: how it changes with age
Conception, things to do before getting pregnant

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