When the time comes in your life where you want to actively start trying to conceive, your first thought might be –‘This is going to be easy, because this is what my body is designed to do!’ If you’re like me, you spent much of your 20’s trying NOT to get pregnant. So, you might think it’s as easy as flipping a switch – just stop using birth control, and you’ll be pregnant within a month or two.
Unless you have a friend or family member who has been open about their fertility struggles, here’s what’s likely NOT on your mind during this exciting time: having to time intercourse, checking your cervical mucus, charting your ovulation, using an ovulation predictor kit. You might be thinking of baby names, or who your child might look like – not the real possibility of seeing a negative pregnancy test each month. Some of your friends might have gotten pregnant on the first or second try – or even without trying at all. But for many people, starting a family is not a quick or easy process. And just like many amazing achievements in our lives – it might take some real work.
First, don’t be surprised, or ashamed at how much youdon’t know. For many of us, the Mosie team included, it’s only when you start trying to get pregnant that you realize you don’t know as much as you thought about your body and how conception actually works. Some of us started to wonder if we should have paid more attention in 6th grade Health class. Or if maybe they skipped the chapter on conception and fertility, because the school was pushing abstinence education instead. Whatever your reason for the education gap, know that we are here to offer support and the tools you need for your fertility journey.
Let’s start with a brief explanation of ovulation. Ovulation is when an egg is released from one of your ovaries into the fallopian tubes. The egg will live 24 hours – so that’s how long it’s viable for fertilization. Sperm on the other hand can survive up to 5 days in the female reproductive tract. Meaning, if your female parts are super healthy and in tip-top shape, those little swimmers can hang around waiting for that egg for up to 5 whole days!
When trying to conceive, the goal is to have the sperm already there in the fallopian tubes, waiting to fertilize that egg, when it arrives. So, you should be having plenty of sex or trying to inseminate several days before ovulation.
How many times should you try to inseminate in a cycle?
That’s an issue up for debate and often is left up to your life’s schedule. Some doctors say have sex multiple times a day up to five days prior to ovulation. Others say you want to allow the sperm to build up in quantity – so you should have sex every other day. We recommend doing what you can and not beating yourself up if you don’t happen to make it happen every single day.
Now, if the egg is fertilized, it travels to the uterus to implant and begin developing into an embryo. Yay! You might be able to see a Big Fat Positive pregnancy test around the time your period would be due. But, if the egg is not fertilized, it disintegrates and your uterine lining begins to shed – which is called menstruation – otherwise known as your period. Not so fun to see when you’re TTC (trying to conceive).
The Best Time to Try
The best time to have sex or use Mosie is five days before you ovulate – up until the day you ovulate. You’re most fertile two days before ovulation and on the day of ovulation. However, figuring out exactly when those days will happen, can be tricky. If your period comes the same time every month, then ovulation will likely happen 14 days before your next expected period. But many people with ovaries are not regular. The good news is that your body typically does a good job of giving you some subtle signs that you’re about to ovulate. You just need to know what to look for.
Your Cervical Mucus
Let’s start with that goo you have going on down there, otherwise known as - your cervical mucus - and how it can play a part in letting you know when you’re about to ovulate. That fluid in your vagina comes from your cervix – and is stimulated by the hormone estrogen. The amount and “quality” of that fluid, or mucus, varies depending on what point you are in your menstrual cycle. When you get close to ovulation time – estrogen surges. This causes the cervix to produce more mucus and changes its quality so it becomes a perfect texture to protect sperm on its journey to the fallopian tubes.
This next part might make some people, like me, a little squeamish. You need to get a sample of your cervical mucus. Yes, you’ll need to touch your lady parts! I promise, you’ll get used to doing this – it’s only a little awkward at first. Here’s how you do it: first wash and dry your hands really well. Pretend your finger is a tampon, and insert your middle or index finger into your vagina, as close to your cervix as possible. When you remove your finger – that fluid you collected is the mucus that you want to study on a regular basis, throughout your cycle. Here’s what you should be looking for:
- After your period: You’ll typically have the least mucus. It will increase in the days following the end of your period. This mucus will be yellow, cloudy or white, and a little sticky.
- Around Ovulation Time: Roughly two weeks after your period, as you are nearing ovulation, there will likely be more mucus and it will start to thin out.
- Ovulation Time: In the days right before you ovulate, the cervical mucus will increase. You might even start seeing it in your underwear. So, what does this magic mucus look like? It will be thin, clear, slippery and stretchy. Some people think it reminds them of egg whites- before you fry them of course.
- Post-Ovulation:After ovulation, the mucus level will decrease and become increasingly thicker and less transparent.
Checking your cervical position
While you’re in there getting a mucus sample – you should also be checking the position of your cervix. It’s another great sign of where you are in your cycle. When you are about to ovulate, the cervix moves higher and you might also be able to feel that it’s softer and wider. After ovulation, the cervix gets firmer, lower and less moist. Some people think the cervix feels like soft lips just before ovulation. And after ovulation, some people compare the feeling of their cervix to the tip of your nose.
It’s important to check your mucus and cervix regularly so you can notice all of the changes.
Now, not every person will produce a lot of cervical mucus – or that “magic” mucus around time of ovulation. Some people even create a “hostile” environment for sperm – where the mucus never thins out – and stays thick and sticky. This is another reason why you need to check your mucus. Because if you know there’s a problem – it’s something you can work around. You just may need a little help getting that sperm to the fallopian tubes, so it can be there waiting for the egg.
You also may be able to improve the quality of your cervical mucus by making changes to your diet and drinking more water. It’s also good to know that stress, some medications and hormonal issues might be affecting your mucus quality and quantity. There are also great lubricants on the market that can help.
Use an Ovulation Predictor Kit
Before your body releases an egg from your ovaries, it will increase production of a hormone in your body called the "luteinizing hormone", or simply put "LH". This rise in LH before the egg is released from your ovary is called your "LH surge" and it's a predictor that ovulation is approaching.
Luckily for us, the hormone can be measured in your pee - hurray! The Mosie Baby Ovulation Test is designed to detect the LH surge through your urine. If there is enough of the LH detected in your pee, you will see a positive on your test.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that achieving a viable pregnancy may take some time. Be patient with yourself. Remember stress is not going to be helpful to your overall health or your fertility.