Know Your Body
Science-backed articles about women's health, fertility, sex, periods, and more.
Women's healthAvoid Unwanted Pregnancy by Tracking Your Cycle's Safe PeriodEach and every woman experiences periods for the majority of their lives. We all know this and understand the basic ins and outs, but what we may not all know is that there are certain days in our menstrual cycle where our fertility and the chance of falling pregnant are low. These are known as "safe days". In order to know when these safe days are, it is important to track your menstrual cycle and log the various physical, emotional and hormonal changes you may be experiencing. There are many period tracker devices or methods that you can choose from. How Soon After Your Period Can You Get Pregnant? Ovulation typically occurs around day 14 of the menstrual cycle, when a mature egg is released into the fallopian tubes and awaits fertilization. This is considered the most fertile time in the cycle, and unprotected sex can result in pregnancy. Sperm can also survive for up to 7 days after sex, so if a couple has had unprotected sex during or immediately after a period, pregnancy can still occur. The chances of falling pregnant also majorly depends on the length (number of days) of your menstrual cycle and how long your period lasts. If falling pregnant is your desired outcome, it's vitally important that you track your ovulation as this can increase your chances of conception and allow you to have sex within your most fertile window. In contrast, if pregnancy is not your desired outcome, it's important to note that there are no guaranteed days in the menstrual cycle where it's completely safe to have unprotected sex. How Long the Pregnancy "Safe Period" Lasts "Safe period" refers to the days within the menstrual cycle when a woman has reduced chances of getting pregnant. You can fall pregnant during the 5 or so days leading up to ovulation, and on the same day. However, pregnancy can still occur a day or two after ovulation if there is still sperm inside the uterus, but this is less likely. Once the fertile window has passed, this leaves around 21 days in the menstrual cycle where pregnancy is less likely. The days before and during menstruation are the least fertile days of the menstrual cycle. How to Track Your Period Cycle There are multiple ways to track your period cycle. You can either opt for a period tracking app, or you can track your period manually using the calendar method. Both methods will work exactly the same, it's just a matter of personal preference. You'll begin by monitoring your period for at least 6 cycles to ensure you have a good understanding of your cycle, its length, and regularity. Either on your calendar or app, the first day of your period is day 1 of your cycle. Then next month, mark the first day of your next period. Count the number of days between each cycle (from day 1 of the first period to day 1 of the second period), and this will tell you the length of your cycle. Continue doing this for a few months. If all of your cycles are less than 27 days, then the manual calendar method may not be ideal for you. But don't despair! There are many different cycle tracking devices that do it for you. Is It Safe to Have Sex Just After Your Period? Falling pregnant just after your period is unlikely but not impossible. If you are having unprotected sex throughout your cycle, there is absolutely no given time where pregnancy may not occur. If pregnancy is not something you are currently aiming for, then it's advisable to use a method of birth control and understand how birth control will affect your menstrual cycle. The fertile days may last for up to 3-5 days after the end of your period. If your period is long, you may only have a few days left after your period before your fertile days begin. If your menstrual cycle is short, then you may ovulate just days after your period ends. Due to sperm being able to survive 5-7 days, pregnancy can occur if you happen to ovulate a little early. If you and your partner are actively trying to fall pregnant, it is best to time having sex during your fertile days and around ovulation. You can take an ovulation test to determine when you are ovulating and then make sure you are having unprotected sex during ovulation to maximize your chances of sperm meeting egg. Periods and tracking apps are not a "one-size-fits-all," so it's important to put time and effort into understanding your own cycle, and knowing your future pregnancy or no-pregnancy plans.
Trying to conceiveHow to Track Ovulation With Irregular PeriodsGetting to know your cycle and when to expect your period can be difficult if it changes month to month. This lack of a predictable pattern also makes it difficult to estimate when you will be ovulating until it actually happens. Your period can be described as irregular if your entire menstrual cycle is shorter than 24 days or longer than 38 days. You may bleed twice a month or only after more than a month. The leading cause of irregular periods is an imbalance of the two hormones involved in menstruation: estrogen and progesterone. Their fluctuations can be triggered by a range of biological and environmental factors, which make it more important to track your cycle if you want a fair warning of your period arriving, or of your ovulation, for conception. Causes of Irregular Periods The hormones released by your brain are affected by what's happening to you as a whole. So besides the age-stage influences of puberty and menopause, other factors may affect your hormone levels from time to time, including: Serious illness This results in your body clock having to reset itself into a normal pattern.Medications Some of these include painkillers like ibuprofen, antidepressants, or cancer treatments.Stress Stress triggers the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which affect your cycle.Pregnancy and breastfeeding Pregnancy can disrupt your periods after childbirth, and regular breastfeeding tends to depress ovulation for up to a year.Poor diet This refers to a diet lacking sufficient energy and minerals to sustain a normal body weight.Excessive exercise Frequently overexerting yourself also depletes body weight and affects your hormones. Can You Get Pregnant If You Have Irregular Periods? Yes, it is possible to get pregnant despite having irregular periods. However, the chances are less than 30% because that's the success rate for healthy women with regular periods. Moreover, irregular ovulation linked to irregular periods accounts for 30–40% of all infertility cases. Calculating Fertility With Irregular Periods Tracking your ovulation and calculating your fertility window can be more challenging with irregular periods. However, it is very important to do when trying to conceive. Here are some ways to help you determine when you are ovulating. Use an Ovulation Test The most obvious solution would be to use an ovulation test. While they can be helpful, remember that ovulation tests don't function as pregnancy tests. And even as a test of ovulation, it is not the best and only indicator of ovulation. It's best to check for other signs when calculating your fertility. Check Your Body's Signs of Ovulation You can work with your own pattern of fertility by closely monitoring your body's signs of ovulation. Even if your period is irregular, ovulation should follow after the end of the period. One of the signs might be ovulation pain. This is not a sign that it's too late to conceive. In fact, it is a good indication that you're ovulating and can conceive. Consult your gynecologist if you notice no ovulation signs for more than two months. Use an Ovulation Tracking Device You can also include period tracking apps and ovulation tracking devices to help calculate your fertile time by measuring your body's basal temperature daily. However, ovulation trackers tend not to record ovulation until after it has happened. This means you miss the opportunity of a fertile day. Regularly Track Your Irregular Periods You can get an idea of your hormone levels and balance by noting certain signs in your body. If you keep track of your cycle, you can understand which physical and emotional signs are an expression of hormonal activity. It's a good idea to keep a monthly chart or menstrual diary and take note of the following: When a period might be due in the next few days, record possible signs such as facial acne, breast tenderness, low mood, and tearfulness. During your period, note details like cramps, the length of the flow, and any stress factors in your life.At the end of your flow, record if it suddenly or gradually stops. Over the subsequent ten days, record what you notice about your vaginal mucus and other signs of ovulation.During the days after ovulation and before your next period, record any mucus changes. If you think you have irregular periods, get help from your gynecologist to help you make the most of your fertility window in your cycle. How often you have sex can help your chances of conceiving. It is recommended that you only have sex once every 24 hours to get the best sperm count and most fertile sperm. When you have sex may also play a role, as it's best to have sex in the morning.
Trying to conceiveWhy Does Sperm Leak Out Hours After Sex?Most women, at some point in their lives, have experienced sperm leaking out of their vaginas after having sex. Although this may be alarming for some or may even raise questions of infertility, especially for those couples actively trying to conceive, it is actually quite normal and is only a portion of the ejaculate. Read on to learn more about why this happens. Why Does Sperm Leak Out After Sex? Sperm leakage refers to the discharge that exits the vagina after the man has orgasmed within her during sex. This means that there was enough of the ejaculate during the orgasm; therefore, some may leak out once the woman is upright, relaxed, and continuing with her day. This can actually be seen as a man having a healthy amount of sperm. Is It Still Possible to Get Pregnant if the Sperm Comes Out? Sperm leakage is definitely NOT a sign of infertility, nor will it lessen your chances of falling pregnant. To start, it is important to know that less than 5-10% of the ejaculate is actually sperm—over 90% is made up of other fluids. Therefore the small amount of ejaculate that leaks out of the vagina is not necessarily impacting the chances of pregnancy. Once a man ejaculates within a woman, the sperm will separate itself from the remaining ejaculatory fluids. Some of the sperm will remain in the back of the vagina (the posterior fornix) and an even smaller amount will make its way up through the cervix within minutes, into the uterus, and along the fallopian tubes in hopes of fertilizing an egg. If you happen to be within the ovulation phase in your menstrual cycle, then conception chances can be quite high. If you want to track your menstruation and its phases in order to know when you may be ovulating, you can use a calendar to mark the specific days in your cycle—or you can use an app. You can also take an ovulation test to determine whether or not you may be ovulating at that current moment and, if you are, you may want to have sex then and there and over the next few days. It is also important to note that if your ovulation test is showing positive, meaning that you are about to ovulate, you can also be pregnant already at this time. Ovulation tests and pregnancy tests (although they work in a similar way) test different hormone levels and should therefore be used with the correct intention in mind. If your ovulation tests are continuously showing negative results, or if you experience irregular cycles, you can attempt to induce ovulation. How Long Should Sperm Be Kept Inside to Get Pregnant? If the man ejaculated deep within you during sex, then you can rest easy knowing that no matter how much ejaculate leaks out after sex, enough sperm would've reached the uterus. It is also advisable to lie on your back for about 15-20min after sex with hips slightly elevated, to assist the sperm with gravity for their journey to the uterus. This is enough time for the fastest sperm swimmers to make it to a potential egg. Sperm leakage after this waiting period will not hamper your chances of falling pregnant. Sperm can survive within the uterus for up to 5 days, so it is fair to give the sperm their chance in reaching the egg. However, you can also increase your chances of falling pregnant by taking vitamins to boost fertility. Both men and women can take these vitamins to ensure they are keeping themselves healthy and giving conception the best chance of occurring. Conclusion Pregnancy will occur if all the right circumstances are in place and if you feel that you might be pregnant, then there's no harm in taking a pregnancy test. It is also important to keep in mind that conception can take time and is different for all couples. Sperm leakage should, therefore, not alarm you, nor will it affect your chances of falling pregnant.
Trying to conceiveWhat to Do After Sex to ConceiveFor many people, trying to conceive—or even the topic of conception—can bring about emotions of sadness or even grief. Every couple's journey of falling pregnant is different and one needs to be sensitive when bringing up this topic in conversation. Conception can occur within weeks of trying and can come about quite easily for some; but for others, it can be difficult and take months, years, or even require additional methods such as inducing ovulation to increase the chance of falling pregnant. Every human's body is different, so one method will not work for all, but there are tips and tricks that can be tried first before jumping to any major conclusion or trying hasty methods. What to Do After Sex to Conceive For those willing to give it a try, there are some interesting methods to try to possibly increase the chance of falling pregnant: Lie flat We're all aware of gravity and how it works, and the same applies to sex and those eager sperm swimmers! To help them along and reach their destination quicker and with less difficulty, lie flat on your back after sex for about 30min. You can even place a pillow under your knees to relieve the tension in your lower back and be more comfortable.Don't run to the bathroom Most women are aware that going to the toilet straight after sex reduces the chance of getting UTIs. However, if your current objective is to conceive, then you may want to wait on that toilet run. By delaying that pee, you are allowing the sperm to remain within your system a little longer. What Not to Do When Trying to Conceive When you are ready to take that next step with your partner and become parents, there are definite lifestyle changes that need to be made or even certain habits that need to be avoided: Alcohol Alcohol reduces fertility; therefore, it is advisable to limit one's alcohol intake—or avoid it completely. Smoking Smoking lowers a woman's chance of falling pregnant by about 40% according to a report published by the British Medical Association (BMA). It's not just all on the women though, as men who smoke are decreasing their sperm count and increasing possible sperm abnormalities. If both of you are smokers, it is advisable to quit prior to trying to conceive. Caffeine intake To those caffeine lovers out there, don't panic! Caffeine while trying to fall pregnant is fine, it just depends on the amount. If you are having more than 5 cups of coffee a day, you may be lowering your fertility.Sweet treats As much as we all enjoy those chocolates or sweets, too much of a good thing may hamper your chances of falling pregnant. Too many sweets may result in an increased level of adrenaline, which combats the female reproductive hormone and, therefore, reduces your chances of falling pregnant. As a final thought on what not to do, you should also be wary of rushing your tests. As much as you may feel eager to take that pregnancy test, taking it too early may lead to inaccurate results which could leave you feeling disheartened and discouraged. As such, it is essential to take a pregnancy test at the right time. How to Increase Your Chances of Conceiving When trying to get pregnant, it is most critical that we look after our bodies and give them the best possible chance of conceiving. Just like there are things we should avoid when wanting to fall pregnant, there are also many things we can do to increase those chances: Healthy diet One of the most important things you can do when trying to conceive is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. This should include all food groups (fruits, vegetables, proteins, whole grains, dairy, and fats). You can also boost your body's folic acid levels by taking vitamins to boost fertility. Time sex properly Yes having sex regularly will increase the chances of falling pregnant, but it is also important to have sex during the right time in your cycle, so learn the phases of the menstrual cycle. If you experience regular cycles, your fertile window should be about seven days prior to ovulation. If you experience irregular cycles, it might be a little harder to predict. You can use an Ovulation predictor kit or an ovulation test to help time things right. Water intake Water makes up about 60% of adult human bodies. As much as water directly links to a healthy body, water is also the main component of cervical mucus in which the sperm swims to get to the egg. Choose lubricants wisely If you and your partner need a vaginal lubricant during sex, it is best to go with natural oil-based lubricants such as peanut oil, canola oil, or baby oil. Avoid using water-based lubricants. Additionally, consider using a fertility lubricant. When trying to conceive, it is best to be patient with our partners. It is an exciting time when trying to start a family, but we must be careful to not let it consume us.
PregnancyCan You Get Pregnant After Ovulation?The normal and natural way to conceive is to track ovulation through your menstrual cycle, noting basal body temperature and cervical mucus as markers of the short ovulation period. However, you can also choose to induce ovulation, which requires taking hormones, and is the last resort if your fertility and ovulation pattern is not reliable. Tracking Your Fertile Period If you don't know when your fertile period is, start observing your vaginal mucus pattern from the last day of your period. It's helpful to get to understand the four phases of the normal menstrual cycle: The period comes first and can last from 2-7 days of menstrual bleeding. Then ovulation occurs around days 8-14 (it varies in each individual but you may find your own pattern to be consistent). You will notice how the watery and sparse vaginal mucus changes and becomes clear, transparent, and jelly-like towards the middle of your cycle. You are only fertile for about 36 hours after an ovum is released, and this jelly-like mucus helps sperm swim up to the uterus to fertilize an ovum. If you have sex a few days before you ovulate, you can still conceive since sperm may live for up to five days. You could also try increasing your fertility with a lubricant. This is technically the best time to conceive, but you can still get pregnant after ovulation, within the window period of 36 hours afterward. Alternatively, you can still try to conceive by inducing ovulation. Can Ovulation Be Induced? A modern technique to help couples conceive is to bring on ovulation artificially, using hormones to boost the release of an ovum. In this way, it is possible to make yourself ovulate with assistance from a medical professional. But if you have struggled to conceive, it's essential to get tested before inducing ovulation to check your overall reproductive health. There may be a hormonal or physical capacity that is not working well, and in that case, inducing ovulation may also not be successful. Using Conceive Plus tablets or injections to stimulate ovulation does carry side effects, and the injections are expensive, so be informed about what to expect when inducing ovulation. Ovulation induction is only recommended for women who have a pattern of low ovulation or who are anovulatory (don't ovulate). The current success rate is low (up to 25%) and multiple pregnancies may result (for example, twins). When to Take an Ovulation Test It can be helpful to use an ovulation test to judge when exactly you are ovulating. Use the home kit from the end of your period, until you notice the fertile, jelly-like mucus. When this thick mucus changes to a drier. cream-colored mucus, this suggests that the fertile phase has passed. The other additional symptoms of ovulation should guide you too, namely breast tenderness, increased libido, and possibly pain in the abdomen. Take the ovulation test first thing in the morning, so that your urine is not diluted by drinking anything (drinking fluids may lead to a false-negative result). Take the test at the same time every day. When to Take a Pregnancy Test If you have tracked your ovulation and used the window period of fertility to have sex in order to conceive, you probably want to know as soon as possible whether you're pregnant or not. If you want to know when to take a pregnancy test, be aware that there is an issue of timing in getting a reliable result. The most reliable method of confirming pregnancy is with a blood test administered by a health professional after you have missed your period. You may prefer to use a home pregnancy test before your period, but this can give a false-negative result. The result will be more accurate if you wait for a week or two after missing your period. At that point, the level of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) will show up clearly in your urine. Can You Take an Ovulation Test if You’re Pregnant? The purpose of taking an ovulation test is to tell when you are ovulating. However, the test is not completely reliable. If you take it when you are pregnant, it may give a false positive. Here's what to expect from an ovulation test when you are pregnant: The test will show low levels of LH; but it may instead show high levels of hCG, indicating pregnancy. (The test cannot tell the difference between LH and hCG.) If you have a positive ovulation test result for five days in a row, take a pregnancy test to be safe.
Women's healthClear Jelly-Like Blob Discharge: What It Means & Better Cycle TrackingUsually, a clear jelly-like blob discharge is a healthy and normal sign of ovulation, but vaginal discharge may appear in different forms and from different parts of the female reproductive organs. It's quite a common experience to have a liquid or sticky discharge, given that the hormonal changes in those organs are ongoing, even beyond menopause. A discharge might be a sign of irritation of the vagina, a sexually transmitted disease (STD), early pregnancy, ovulation, or even postpartum. If you are on a birth control pill, you may also experience some discharge. Find out more about how to identify the natural signs of your menstrual cycle, and when a discharge might be a problem needing medical attention. When Is a Clear Jelly-Like Discharge Most Prevalent? A jelly-like discharge is most prevalent during the ovulation phase of your menstrual cycle, for a day or two. It consists of stringy, transparent, jelly-like mucus and sometimes a deposit of a blob. This is mucus that helps sperm move easily up into the uterus to meet the egg and fertilize it. A similar type of discharge is also sometimes seen at the end of pregnancy, as discussed below. Struggling to track your fertile window? Take a look at the best cycle and ovulation tracking apps available. Does Discharge Differ in Appearance During Ovulation? Your vaginal discharge does change during your menstrual cycle. From being clear, thin, and watery, immediately after your period, it may become thicker and jelly-like—similar to egg whites—closer to ovulation. At the time of ovulation, it is clear and elastic if you stretch it between finger and thumb. There may be a lot of it, so a blob is not unusual. If you are trying to fall pregnant, then use this time of jelly-like mucus to increase your chances of conception. If you want to avoid pregnancy, then you must use contraception before the very clear mucus appears, because sperm live for 72 hours and may be alive and waiting by the time you ovulate! So ideally, use contraception between the end of your period and the end of ovulation, to be sure not to fall pregnant. To learn more about ovulation and pregnancy, read Will an Ovulation Test Give a Positive Result if Taken When Pregnant? Why Discharge Can Appear Jelly-Like During Your Pregnancy If you are pregnant and near full term (after 37 weeks), then you may experience a jelly-like blob that is more like a plug. It may be the mucus plug that normally forms to keep the baby safe from infection, and keeps the cervix closed while you are pregnant. When you are close to a full term in your pregnancy, the plug becomes loosened when the cervix retracts (thins and pulls away), opening up for labor. You may then experience some clear jelly-like mucus flowing after the release of the plug. It has nothing to do with labor itself, but may also only be released when labor starts, or may not be seen at all. This release of the mucus plug shows that labor may begin within two weeks or a few days. It is a healthy sign, but if you are worried, or if you notice blood streaks in the mucus, use a pad and show your doctor. Why You Should Track Your Cycle Your menstrual cycle hormones give you clues about what is happening in your body. The patterns of symptoms, like changes in mucus, breast tenderness, and possibly bloating, tell you more about which phase is happening. By learning to match your bodily signs with the phase of your cycle, you can understand and accommodate your body's processes. While you are breastfeeding, your period is suppressed by the hormones that produce breast milk. Useful Tips to Help You Track Your Cycle Note how your vaginal mucus changes throughout a cycle.Note when you experience breast sensitivity—at ovulation and when your period begins. If you are keen to fall pregnant, note carefully when the clear, jelly-like mucus appears. Alternatively, use an ovulation test to identify when you are ovulating.Note how many days between the end of your period and the beginning of ovulation—these are the days when you might conceive if you are having sex about once every 24 hours.
MenstruationSymptoms of Each Phase of the Menstrual CycleBeing a woman is hard work. Between battling hormones, breakouts, bloating, cravings, and unexplained emotional breakdowns, we are also expected to carry on with everyday life as normal, even though we're actively bleeding for an entire week every month! Periods are, however, a natural way of life and something that all women experience. Without it, we would not be able to perform the miracle of childbirth and continue to produce future generations. Each month, woman experience their menstrual cycle which usually extends over a 28-day period of time. Your menstrual cycle can begin around the ages of 11/12, known as menarche, and is experienced monthly from then on until the ages of 45-50. During each period, a mature egg is released from the ovary (the ovaries alternate each month), travels along the fallopian tube, and enters the uterus. Inside the uterus is a soft lining called the endometrium, and this acts as a snuggly, warm blanket eagerly waiting for the egg to be fertilized by sperm and embed itself within it and begin the pregnancy cycle. When fertilization does not happen, a large part of the endometrium, along with blood and mucus, is then released by the body through the vagina, known as menstruation. Menstruation can last between 3 and 7 days typically. The uterus is completely cleaned out during these days and is then ready to repeat the cycle again next month, and so it continues. It almost seems as though a woman's body is throwing a temper tantrum for not falling pregnant. During each menstruation cycle, a period can be broken down into 4 specific stages: Menstrual Phase (Day 1-5)Follicular Phase (Day 1-13)Ovulation Phase (Day 14)Luteal Phase (Day 15-28) During each phase, the body will experience changes and symptoms that can often be annoying, but also easily managed! How Being Familiar With Each Menstrual Phase Can Help You Being familiar with each of the above-mentioned menstrual cycle phases will help you to understand your body and the weekly changes that it is going through, as well as the symptoms you may be experiencing each week. This will also allow you to find ways to relieve those symptoms or be prepared for them! Symptoms of the Menstrual Phase This phase begins on day 1 of your cycle when blood is first released from the vagina and ends on day 5. During the menstrual phase, the hormone progesterone plunges, which causes the endometrium to shed. About 10ml-80ml of blood can be lost during a period. When the endometrium is shed, the uterus contracts, which causes the lower abdominal or back pain known as period cramps. This first phase of menstruation will leave you feeling tired and withdrawn. To ease the discomfort often experienced, it would be best to take time for yourself: rest, keep strenuous exercise to a low, have a hot bath, and consider avoiding major social events. Symptoms of the Follicular Phase This phase also begins on day 1 of bleeding; however, it continues way past the end of one's period. Once bleeding has stopped, the pituitary gland in the brain releases a hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSI) which basically causes the follicles in your ovaries to mature—follicles are like little houses for the eggs that are released into the ovary once they mature, known as ovulation. During this phase of the menstrual cycle, your estrogen and testosterone hormone levels are elevated, raising your energy and potentially improving your mood. This is a great time to solve problems, take on big ideas, or perform that strenuous exercise you put off during the menstruation phase! Symptoms of the Ovulation Phase This phase begins around day 14 of the cycle and is the exact moment when a mature egg is released from the follicle within the ovary. This mature egg is ready for fertilization. During this phase, you may feel even more energy and confidence than in the follicular phase. This is a great time for job interviews, date nights, or intense physical workouts. Symptoms of the Luteal Phase This is the last phase in the cycle and occurs from after ovulation (day 15) through to day 28. The mature egg is awaiting fertilization and due to the cycle coming to an end, the dreaded PMS symptoms will be experienced. These symptoms include cravings, moodiness, anxiety, breast tenderness, and bloating. It is a good idea to practice good self-care habits, such as eating healthy pain-relieving foods, spending time alone, or going for a relaxing massage. If the mature egg is not fertilized, it begins to break down which causes the endometrium to shed and this starts the cycle all over again. Periods can be frustrating and a nuisance but they can be managed especially if we listen to our bodies and provide them with all the necessary tools to feel empowered and continue on with our superhero ways. Suffering from intense period cramps? Consider taking birth control to treat PMS symptoms.
Birth controlSigns of High Fertility in WomenWhether you're trying to fall pregnant or avoid pregnancy, it's useful to know what your chances of conception are. Our team of experts has compiled this guide to help you navigate this issue through the signs of fertility, factors influencing fertility, tips to increase it, and more. General Signs That You May Be Highly Fertile You might fall pregnant quite easily if you experience most of the following at the same time: You're between your late teens and late twentiesYou feel very well in general You have a regular cycle You have clear and consistent signs of ovulation every month (such as the same type of discharge) You don't smoke You have a healthy, balanced dietYour periods are not very heavy, and your PMS is manageable You haven't had any pelvic infections, or they have been cleared When Is Your Fertile Period? Women are most fertile during ovulation, which occurs every 28 days or so. A mature egg is released from the ovary, moves down the fallopian tube, and stays there for 12 to 24 hours. Ovulation usually takes place about 14 days before the next period. Understanding your menstrual cycle is key to understanding ovulation, and it is a good idea to track your cycle to predict when ovulation will take place if you want to conceive. Factors That Affect Fertility Some of the factors that influence whether a woman can conceive or not include the following: AgeSmokingAlcohol consumptionWeight (being clinically underweight or overweight)CaffeineLifestyle factors (such as stress)Diseases and disorders GeneticsNutrition and exerciseEnvironmental factors (smog, pollution, secondhand smoke, etc.)Over-the-counter and recreational drugsDuration of subfertility (how long a couple has been trying)Previous pregnancies (if a couple has conceived before, they are likely to conceive again)Ovarian cysts Please note that most cysts don't cause infertility. The only exception is if a cyst gets infected (a rare occurrence). How to Increase Fertility There are numerous ways to boost your chances of pregnancy. These include vitamin supplements for fertility, frequent sex during ovulation, inducing ovulation, pre-seed lubricant, and IVF treatments. Vitamin Supplements Recent studies have shown that a range of vitamins and supplements can increase fertility in men and women. These include Vitamins B, E, and D, as well as fish oil, Co-Enzyme Q10, and Selenium. Frequent Sex During Ovulation Having sex often without contraception is one of the simplest, cheapest, least invasive, and most low-risk ways to improve your chances of conception. Having lots of sex during ovulation especially can be effective in creating a pregnancy. Inducing Ovulation A few treatments are available that can induce ovulation so that a couple knows exactly when it will occur, has potentially more opportunities for conception, and creates space in their schedules to have lots of sex within an effective, fertile period. Pre-Seed Lubricant Pre-Seed Lubricant creates a more slippery passage up the vagina for sperm in case of vaginal dryness. IVF Treatments IVF treatments can be costly and difficult but are often an effective way to fall pregnant. Read more about the egg retrieval process of IVF here. IUI Treatments Simpler and cheaper than IVF, IUI is another option to look into when trying to conceive. However, it should be noted that it does carry more risks. Is It Possible to Induce Ovulation? Yes, ovulation induction is possible for many women. However, it should be noted that there are some side effects and risks with this kind of treatment. There are several different medications on the market that induce ovulation. They work in different ways and have different side effects. You'll need to consider the options carefully with your gynecologist. When to Take an Ovulation Test Taking an ovulation test can be helpful in the process of conception. They help give you an idea of when you're ovulating to make time for more sex during this high-fertility window. Wondering when the best time is to take a pregnancy test? Take a look at our expert guide on this issue.
MenstruationHow to Keep Track of Your Period: Apps, Devices, Charts, & MoreHow to Know When Your Next Period Is Coming It can be tricky to track your periods when they're irregular, which is quite common. However, women can look out for certain symptoms that signal a period around the corner. If you're wondering when your period is coming, look out for the following: Abdominal bloating or crampingConstipationDiarrhea Pimples or acneJoint or back pain HeadachesTender or swollen breastsFatigue or lack of focusChanges in appetiteSensitivity to sound and lightIrritabilityDepression or anxiety Remember, every woman is different. If your symptoms are different from your friend's, that doesn't mean anything is wrong with either of you. Period Tracking Devices There is a range of period tracking or menstrual cycle tracking devices on the market that can be used in different ways. These are usually apps or small electronic devices. These devices present possible dates of when your period might start and finish. They usually also indicate when premenstrual symptoms might begin and when your ovulation window is—essential information if you're trying to conceive. Our team of women's health experts did the research and tested numerous products. They reviewed these according to efficacy, cost, and usability. Take a look at our round-up of top devices and apps for anticipating periods and ovulation. Note that there are also numerous free options that are relatively good. Menstrual Charting Menstrual charting is another way to anticipate periods, premenstrual problems, and ovulation. You can do your own menstrual charting by simply using a calendar to keep track, or you can use a period chart, an online menstrual calendar, or an ovulation tracking app, which may have some added benefits such as notifications that can be linked to your phone or computer. How to Chart or Monitor Your Cycle Mark the first day of your period as day one. Then, mark the first day of your next period. Count the total number of days between the first days of each period. This should give you an indication of the length of your cycle. Period Tracking Apps Period tracking apps are becoming more and more popular. With a range of good free options on the market, it's not surprising that more and more women use them to make planning their lives easier. Menstrual tracking apps can be especially useful if you: Are trying to fall pregnant Are not on birth control such as the pill that allows you to see when your period is coming (note that the injection and IUDs often result in irregular periods)Experience unpleasant symptoms during your period and want to plan around themNeed to order prescription pain medication in advance for painful periods or hormone-related pain such as migrainesNeed to take menstrual leave from work Other Important Things to Note about Period Trackers and Devices The more detail or data you can provide, the more accurate the tracking is likely to be. You will need to provide information such as the length of your periods, dates of when you have had them, symptoms during the premenstrual phase, temperatures at various points of the month, and even moods and emotions. There are a few apps on the market that do not use physical indicators to predict period start dates, but these are only about 20% accurate.