Trying to get pregnant? Here’s how to track your fertility
Fertility tracking can be one of the best ways to finally see a plus sign on a pregnancy test stick. Here’s how to do it.
If you’re trying for a baby, keeping track of your cycle – or fertility tracking – can provide a sense of control in an uncertain time, when the urge to have a baby can feel, well, urgent.
Fertility tracking: Calculating your ‘fertile window’
Reproductive health specialist Dr Rashi Kalra says ovulation usually happens 14 days before the menstrual period.
Around this time, there’s a “fertile window” of about five days leading up to ovulation, as well as the day of ovulation.
“Generally, women are most fertile the day before and the day of ovulation,” Dr Kalra, from the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, says.
The easiest way to determine your fertile window?
“For women with regular 28- to 30-day cycles, there are numerous fertility tracking apps that can help identify your fertile window,” Dr Kalra advises.
Signs of ovulation to look out for
Your body is pretty good at sending you signs of ovulation – you simply need to know what to look out for.
Dr Kalra says you’ll see changes in cervical mucus when you’re ovulating.
“It becomes more clear and slippery,” Dr Kalra explains.
You’ll also notice an increase in libido and, occasionally, some women experience ovulation pain, she adds.
How long does ovulation last?
When it comes to the phases of your cycle, ovulation is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it chapter.
If you want to be sure you’re ovulating, use an ovulation test – ovulation testing kits detect the LH hormone level via your urine, Dr Kalra explains.
“This hormone peaks 24 hours before ovulation and is released by the brain to stimulate the ovary to release an egg, or ovulate,” she says.
Ovulation testing kits are fairly accurate for women with a regular 28- to 30-day menstrual cycle but for women with irregular periods, they might not be as accurate, Dr Kalra adds.
Irregular periods? Here’s how to tell your fertile days
According to Dr Kalra, if a woman has irregular periods, it can be more difficult to determine when you’re most fertile.
So, what is the most accurate way to tell your fertile days when your period is unreliable?
“Some clinics offer ovulation tracking with blood tests, which is the most accurate method,” Dr Kalra says.
Because some underlying medical conditions can be associated with irregular cycles, she recommends seeing your GP or a fertility specialist to find out what’s going on.
What are the best fertility tracking apps?
Gynaecologist and fertility expert Dr Natasha Andreadis says in today’s digital age, fertility tracking apps are a great way to get acquainted with your cycle, to help you conceive.
Here are three of the best fertility tracking apps to consider:
Dr Andreadis says Fertility Friend offers a great way to observe and record your signs of fertility.
The app then uses the information to let you know the best days for making a baby.
This app monitors your basal body temperature and cervical fluid to help you understand what your hormone levels are up to, explains Dr Andreadis.
It can then give an indication of your best time to conceive.
Ovia Fertility and Cycle Tracker
Ovia is one of the more sophisticated apps available.
Dr Andreadis says it uses a holistic approach that incorporates fertility and key health indicators (such as eating and sleeping habits) to predict when you’ll ovulate.
More on fertility and trying for a baby:
- Myths and facts about fertility
- Ready to start a family? 7 tips to boost fertility
- Planning to freeze your eggs? Here’s what you need to know
- How to help friends who are trying to conceive
- What you need to know about secondary infertility
Written by Sarah Vercoe.