Am I Fertile?Jul 20, 2022
Understanding your fertile signs is important whether or not you are trying to fall pregnant or you are avoiding it. We are taught how not to fall pregnant but the part about understanding our bodies is often neglected.
When you hear the word fertility what comes to mind?
The most common thought is pregnancy but did you know that your fertility is not just a sign of your reproductive health but of your overall health?
That’s right! Your menstrual cycle is considered your fifth vital sign. So, regardless of whether or not you want to fall pregnant like yesterday, or you just want to understand your body better, we are here to help!
So, let’s start with talking about the 3 natural signs that your body is fertile:
- Cervical mucus (CM)
Your CM is closely related to your oestrogen levels. As you finish your period, your body begins to grow and develop a follicle in order to be released at ovulation. To do this, a few hormones are needed, mainly oestrogen. So, as your body produces more oestrogen, you will notice changes in your CM. It will usually be sticky/creamy after your period stops, then becomes more watery as ovulation approaches. However, your most fertile CM looks like uncooked egg whites and stretches a few centimeters. After, ovulation you may see little to no CM or sticky/creamy.
- Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
First of all, when it comes to BBT it is important to know that unlike your CM, your temperature cannot tell you when ovulation is approaching, only that ovulation has occurred. Therefore, you should not be relying on your temperature to either time sex or abstain from it, depending on your desired outcome.
Now you may be wondering how your BBT is affected by your fertility. Once you have ovulated, your body produces a higher amount of the hormone progesterone. Progesterone is a heat inducing hormone, meaning it will increase your core body temperature which in turn increases your metabolism.. say hello to increase hunger levels and cravings! As a result, you will notice a slight shift in your temperature resembling this process taking place, hence why your temperatures will only confirm ovulation, not predict it.
Tracking your BBT requires you to take your temperature every morning, roughly at the same time. The best practice is to purchase a BBT thermometer as the rise in body temperature pre and post ovulation can be as small at .4 degrees celsius. The trick to knowing if you’ve ovulated is this slight increase is sustained for at least 10 days.
- Cervical position
When your body approaches ovulation, there are many different things it will do to increase the chances of pregnancy (regardless of whether that is what you want right now). For example, your egg white CM is more hospitable to sperm, you may notice a higher sex drive and your cervical position changes.
This one of assessing your fertility does require you to internally check, so is not for everyone but can be really beneficial if you are having trouble determining your CM. When your body approaches ovulation, your cervix moves up higher, therefore the sperm doesn’t have as far to travel to reach the egg. Along with this higher position, your cervix will feel softer, think about the tip of your nose soft. Now, when you are not ovulating i.e., you are on your period, your cervix will do the opposite. That is, it will sit lower in your body and will feel harder to touch, think more like the bridge of your nose instead.
Like we said, understanding your cervical position is not for everyone but it is an important sign that you should be aware of when it comes to your fertility.
Now that we know more about the three natural signs of your fertility, another way to assess your fertility is through your cycle length. We want to see a regular cycle of 21-35 days in length, but please bear in mind that fluctuations in cycle length are completely normal. However, if you are seeing cycles of 36+ days it may be time to investigate a little further by running some tests, which we will get into now.
If you are wanting to assess your fertility, medicially, here are the levels you will want to get tested:
- AMH level
- Estradiol (E2)
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
- Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
- Day 21 Progesterone (P4)**
- Prolactin (PRL)
- Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
These tests help to investigate a core couple of questions.
- Is your brain telling your ovaries to release an egg?
- Is your ovary receiving this message and able to do it?
- Is your body perceiving it is safe to ‘fall pregnant?’
So, when might you want to get these tests done? Here are a few scenarios that may warranted further investigation:
- If you are over the age of 35 and have been trying to conceive for 6+ months
- If you have previous or underlying issues such as PCOS, endo, over or under functioning thyroid, autoimmune disease best to get these investigations done before waiting the 6 months no matter your age.
- If under the age of 35 with no previous issue they state medically to wait 12 months of trying without the ability to conceive before getting tested, if you’re concerned you can always speak to your doctor beforehand.
Other scenarios that may warrant further testing:
If you have a history of endometriosis, Adenomyosis, painful periods or recurrent &/or STI infection then an investigation of the structure of your uterus may be warranted. Here they can effectively ‘clear the path’ for sperm to meet the egg. Note: this has the best effect in getting you pregnant in the 6 months after completion. So if pregnancy is your main goal, ideally wait until you’re ready to fall pregnant.
By this point, you may be wondering what approach you should take regarding your fertility. Should you continue using the natural signs or take a step further and have some tests taken? This comes down to a couple of core questions.
- What is your current menstrual health like? Are you regular? Are they painful? Do you get weird abdominal or leg pain with your period?
- How old are you?
- How old was your mum when she went through menopause? (This is only relevant if she did so naturally and not medically or surgically induced early)
- What are your goals for the short and long term future? (ie. do you want a baby now or in a couple of years time).
Hopefully now, you can see that your fertility is not purely a sign of your reproductive health but a sign of how your body is functioning overall. If you are wanting to fall pregnant, your fertility can also represent the health of your future baby as well. Pregnancy can be seen as a magnifying glass for your own health.
However, regardless of whether or not you want to fall pregnant, helping your body function better can never hurt! So, remember the goal of fertility is knowing that your body is functioning as it should for the stage of life you’re in.
One final note: If you are trying to conceive please remember pregnancy is a two person job. At this stage we need both sperm and an egg to create a baby. So, making sure the health of the sperm is optimal is a crucial part of the equation.
If you’re after more clarity, you can book a complimentary discovery call where we assess if an integrative approach is suitable for you, or you need to follow a different path.
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