If you’re thinking about having a baby, one of the first things you should be thinking about is your cycles–and more specifically, tracking them. Knowing when you’re menstruating gives you crucial info on your ovulation…and the all-important fertile window!
Tracking your cycle is all about empowerment. Having this important data at your fingertips will make you feel more informed and aware of where you’re at in your cycle, and it means you can take charge of your journey to pregnancy. While TTC (trying to conceive), this should help you increase your chances of conceiving, by being aware of the best times for baby-making!
Are you tracking your cycles already? If not, here’s the lowdown on why it matters.
Tracking your cycle can help you determine when you’re most likely to ovulate, which is when you’re most likely to get pregnant. In fact, you can only conceive around the time you release an egg!
This doesn’t mean that conception only happens on your ovulation day– sperm can survive for a while before inseminating a released egg, so there’s usually a window of 3-5 days when conception is most likely. This time period is known as your fertile window. The cycle tracking feature in the Baby2Body app gives you the best estimate of where your fertile window falls so you know when you’re most likely to conceive!
How do you know when you’re most likely to ovulate?
For most women, ovulation happens about 14 days before the start of your next cycle. The more periods you track, the more accurate predictions we can make because we’ll better understand your average cycle lengths.
An important thing to remember is that your predicted ovulation day is still a prediction. There can be some slight variation, especially if your cycles aren’t regular, but the fertile window should give you a good idea of when you’re most likely to ovulate and therefore most likely to conceive. It’s important to know that you can and may conceive outside of the predicted fertile window we give you, but the goal is to help you better understand where you’re at in your cycle so you can be more empowered through your TTC journey.
Not everyone will have success with cycle tracking, so you should keep a few things in mind.
It’s important to remember that cycle tracking is not a hard science; it won’t guarantee that you can calculate your exact day of ovulation. What it can do is give you a good prediction of your ovulation time frame if your cycles are “normal,” meaning between 21-38 days long with periods lasting 1-8 days.
So even for women with normal cycles, you may still find that tracking your cycles won’t help you get pregnant right away, and that’s okay! One thing we know (and celebrate!) is that every woman’s body is different. That also means every woman’s cycle is different, and so is your path to pregnancy.
Physical changes are a key indicator of ovulation.
Even though tracking your cycles won’t guarantee that you will get pregnant right away, it’s a really great tool that we encourage you to use. But that isn’t the only way to get an idea of when you may be ovulating! You can keep track of other bodily changes to help increase your chances of conceiving and understand the signals your body is giving you when it comes to ovulation. Signs you might be ovulating soon include:
- Any vaginal discharge becomes more slippery and clear (this usually occurs 3-7 days before ovulation)
2. Minor cramping on one side of the pelvic region (not cramps related to an upcoming period)
3. A slight dip in basal body temperature usually occurs just before your body releases an egg
Want to really hone in on your fertile window? Consider tracking your body temperature.
Monitoring your body temperature alongside cycle tracking can help give you a better picture of your body’s fertile window and increase the likelihood of getting pregnant. After you take your temperature, record it by using the + or – button and then add it to your timeline!
Your basal body temperature (BBT) is the temperature your body is at when fully at rest–meaning right when you wake up in the morning and before you get out of bed! Your basal body temperature should rise about half a degree shortly after you ovulate and you’re most fertile 2 to 3 days before this rise in temperature (however, some women ovulate without a clear rise in BBT so if you notice your temperature isn’t changing consistently after a few months of tracking it might be helpful to check with your doctor). If that temperature continues to stay slightly elevated for 18 or more days, congrats–there is a chance you could be pregnant!
Both cycle tracking and basal body temperature monitoring are great fertility tools as they don’t pose virtually any health risks and help give you a better understanding of your menstrual cycle. Remember though, body temperature is influenced by many factors so make sure to compare it to your cycle tracking and consider these possibilities before you grab that pregnancy test. Temperature can be influenced by:
- Illness or fever from infection
- Disrupted sleep or excessive sleeping
- Shift work
- Travel and time zone changes
- Certain medications and gynecologic disorders
How to prepare and what to do:
- You can use a digital oral thermometer or a special BBT thermometer but you should use the same method each time (oral, vaginal, or rectal)
- If you’re having trouble determining a pattern, try taking your temperature consistently for one month vaginally or rectally & compare to your cycle tracking
- Make sure you’re taking your temperature right after you wake up, before you get out of bed, using the same method, and around the same time every day (you might have to set an alarm) to get those correct readings
Woah–we just threw a lot of info at you, so if you’re new to cycle tracking, don’t feel overwhelmed. You don’t need to start tracking BBT right away, and the specificity of symptom tracking is completely up to you. The good news is that you don’t need to decide right now. You can start tracking your menstrual cycles today, and if you decide to add in BBT in a few weeks or months, the app will start using that data in its calculations.
If you’re in the market for a cycle tracking app, we encourage you to give ours a try. The cycle tracking and daily tips in our app are always free, and we’ll be here to support you every step of the way. Happy tracking!