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Fertility Awareness: Tracking Your Cycle And Optimising Conception Chances

April 15, 2024

Understanding the various fertility awareness methods, or FAM, is one of the most important steps to take if you want to start a family and are trying to conceive or looking for natural family planning. It is a powerful but simple tool that helps you know your body better, check your fertility, and get pregnant or avoid pregnancy. Read below to learn more about this tool and how to track and optimise conception chances.

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Things to Know about Fertility and the Menstrual Cycle

For effectively identifying fertile days and using the FAM properly, you should be aware of the details of your menstrual cycle. You should know when you are likely to conceive and get pregnant. For pregnancy to happen, fertilisation (the fusion of egg and sperm) has to take place. During your periods, there are some specific days when the sperm can fertilise the eggs, and these are called fertile days. Every month during the menstrual cycle, the ovary produces eggs that get lodged in the fallopian tube; this process is called ovulation. This egg remains in the fallopian tube for up to 24 hours. The sperm can remain in the fallopian tube and the uterus for up to six days. If the sperm joins the egg in the tube during this period, it fertilises and travels to the uterus. This then attaches to the uterine wall, and you get pregnant. If the egg does not fertilise, it dissolves, and you get periods. Since the egg after ovulation lives for about a day and the sperm for six days after intercourse, you are fertile for about seven days of your period. i.e., the day you ovulate and five days before ovulation. In rare cases, you can also become pregnant 1 or 2 days after ovulation.

What are the Ovulation Signs and Symptoms to Observe

There are three fertility signs to look out for:

  • The basal body temperature (BBT): The body temperature is taken using a digital thermometer orally in the morning.
  • The cervical fluid: It is observed daily
  • Cervical position changes: This is a sign that a few women can monitor.

There are a few other secondary signs that some women find, and these are mainly to back up the information that you have collected.

What is the Fertility Awareness Method?

The fertility awareness method is an effective and highly accurate tool that helps determine the fertility days in a woman’s menstrual cycle. This period is called the fertility window and is used to avoid or get pregnant. The method uses fertility signs that are scientifically proven and that all women experience during their periods. These signs are then recorded in a digital format on paper using a tool designed specifically for fertility. Once you learn how to interpret it correctly, you can get a deeper understanding of your fertility and determine which day you are more fertile.

What are the Various Types of Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABMs?

Fertility awareness methods help you track your periods so that you know when the eggs are released (ovulation). The days around ovulation are the days when you are more likely to conceive. Many types of FAMs allow you to track fertility signs, and you can use any of them to perform ovulation tracking.

  • The standard day's method: In this method, you chart the menstrual cycle on the calendar for many months to know how long the cycle is. It is usually between 26 and 32 days. Once you have established the range your cycle falls in, you can determine the fertile days which is 8 to 19 days.
  • The cervical mucus method: This is a method where you check the vaginal discharge or the cervical mucus every day. The menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones and the same also produce mucus that comes as discharge from the vagina. The Cervical mucus changes in amount, texture and colour can tell you about ovulation days.
  • The Temperature Method: The basal temperature of your body can help predict when you will ovulate by tracking the body temperature changes daily.

The most effective way is to combine all the above methods and use them together, which is called the symptothermal method. You can also use ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) to check if you are ovulating.

Benefits of Fertility Awareness Methods

When it comes to trying to conceive, knowing when you are fertile using the Fertility Awareness Methods is empowering. Some of the other benefits are:

  • Can increase the chances of getting pregnant by tracking the menstrual cycle
  • Give you a deeper knowledge of your fertility and provides answers to many
  • questions.
  • You are in control of the situation and feel less stressed and more empowered when trying to get pregnant. Timing intercourse for conception becomes easy as you know when you are ovulating.
  • It helps in the early identification of potential fertility issues so that you get timely help.
  • The use of fertility apps and trackers acts as a great tool that helps healthcare providers to assess your fertility and gynaecological health.

What does the Fertility Charting Tell?

Every menstrual cycle, the fertility chart gives you information on

  • The exact day you have ovulated (released the egg)
  • Know when to expect your next period. This is useful when you have Menstrual cycle irregularities.
  • Determine the peak fertility days which can be 2 or 3 days every cycle
  • Know when to relax from baby-making and when to try
  • Determine if your menstrual cycle was fertile
  • Find out if you have a chance of getting pregnant this month
  • Discover if there was an early miscarriage
  • Identify fertility issues like luteal phase defects by checking the Luteal phase length, detect Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, etc.

What is the Effectiveness of FAMs?

The FAM's methods are 77 to 98% effective, which means out of 100 couples who use them, 2 to 23 get pregnant every year. If multiple FAMs are used, it is better. The success rate also depends on how well you utilise the chart and the tools. Tracking fertility signs is more effective for getting pregnant. There are ways to make it more effective; some of them are:

  • Working with a healthcare provider who knows about FAMs to learn to use them effectively
  • Note the fertility signs and track them in a disciplined manner every day of your cycle.

When it comes to conceiving, fertility awareness is very useful. When learned and done properly, you can increase the chances of conception.

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