| Fertility Pattern | Infertility
| Treating Infertility
If you are aware of when you are most fertile, this
will help you plan or prevent a pregnancy. There are three ways
that you can keep track of this time each month:
This involves keeping a written record of each menstrual cycle
on a regular calendar. The first day of your period is Day 1,
which you can circle on the calendar. Continue doing this for
eight to 12 months so you know how many days are in your cycle.
The length of your cycle can vary from month to month, so write
down the total number of days it lasts each time in a list. To
find out the first day when you are most fertile, check your list
and find the cycle with the fewest days. Then subtract 18 from
that number. Take this new number and count ahead that many days
on the calendar. Draw an X through this date. The X marks the
first day you're likely to be fertile. To find out the last day
when you are fertile, subtract 11 days from your longest cycle
and draw an X through this date. This method always should be
used with other fertility awareness methods, especially if your
cycles are not always the same lengths.
Basal Body Temperature Method
This involves taking your basal body temperature (your body's
temperature when you're at rest) every morning before you get
out of bed, and recording it on a chart. You will begin to know
your own fertility pattern, and you can see the changes from month
to month. During the menstrual cycle, your body temperature remains
at a somewhat steady, lower level, and begins to slightly rise
with ovulation. The rise can be a sudden jump or a gradual climb
over a few days. The rise in temperature can't predict exactly
when the egg is released, but your temperature rises between .4
to .8 degrees Fahrenheit on the day of ovulation. You are most
fertile, and most likely to get pregnant during the two to three
days just before your temperature hits the highest point (ovulation),
and for about 12 to 24 hours after ovulation. A man's sperm can
live for up to three days in your body and is able to fertilize
an egg during that time. So, if you have unprotected sex several
days before ovulation, there is a chance of becoming pregnant
then. Once your temperature spikes and stays at a higher level
for about three days, you can be sure that ovulation has occurred.
Your temperature will remain at the higher level until your period
starts. Basal body temperature differs slightly from woman to
woman, but anywhere from 96 to 98 degrees orally is normal before
ovulation, and anywhere from 97 to 99 degrees orally after ovulation.
So, any changes that you chart are very small and are in 1/10
degree. You can buy an oral basal body temperature thermometer
or an easy-to-read thermometer, which has the degrees marked in
these small fractions, at a drug store. If you can't find it easily,
ask the pharmacist to help you.
Ovulation Method (also known as theCervical mucus
This involves being aware of the changes in your cervical mucus
throughout the month. The hormones that control the menstrual
cycle also cause changes in the kind and how much mucus you have
just before and during ovulation. Right after your period, you
usually have a few days when there is no mucus present or "dry
days." As the egg starts to mature, mucus increases in the vagina,
appears at the vaginal opening, and is usually white or yellow
and cloudy and sticky. The greatest amount of mucus appears just
before ovulation, during the "wet days," when it becomes clear
and slippery, like raw egg whites. Sometimes it can be stretched
apart. This is when you are most fertile. About four days after
the wet days begin, the mucus changes again. There is now much
less and it becomes sticky and cloudy. You might have a few more
dry days before your period returns. You can describe changes
in your mucus on a calendar. Label the days, "Sticky," "Dry,"
or "Wet." You are most fertile at the first sign of wetness after
your period, but maybe also a day or two before wetness begins.
This method is less reliable for women whose mucus pattern is
changed because of breastfeeding, use of oral contraceptives or
feminine hygiene products, having vaginitis, sexually transmitted
diseases (STDs), or surgery on the cervix.
This is the most accurate method, by combining all 3 methods.
It takes into account all these factors as well as other symptoms
a woman might have, such as slight cramping and breast tenderness.