By TTC warrior, Jennifer Jay Palumbo
If you’re one of the “newbies” who has just started down the ‘Trying to Conceive Path’ or have recently learned you may have an infertility issue – this one is for you. I’ll include some hidden jokes to keep it interesting!
Although most women know the basics around their period and their overall cycle, when they are ready to have a family, many aren’t aware of how to conceive. Below, I hope to change that and review some of the basics.
And no, I will not be using the phrase, “When a man loves a woman…”
When you start trying to conceive, women begin to track their cycle in various ways, including using a period cycle calculator. A period cycle calculator can be used in many forms. The goal is to get to know your cycle, and when you ovulate, you’re at your most fertile. As we’ll review below, though, a period cycle calculator is just one way that can potentially help you get pregnant, and, in some specific cases, it may not always be the ideal way. Let’s review!
How Does A Period Cycle Calculator Track Your Period?
Every month, when your body releases an egg, it is known as ovulation. This is when an egg is released from your ovary and is hanging out waiting to be fertilized. It hangs around waiting for the sperm to show up (just like a male sperm NOT to ask for directions) for a span of 12 to 24 hours. Meanwhile, your uterus’ lining becomes thicker to create an ideal environment for an embryo to implant.
If the egg is not fertilized, though, your body will shed the extra thickened lining created (sorry endometrium for all your wasted hard work!), and this is your period (insert jazz hands). This process can be tracked by a period cycle calculator (Always Maxi Pads make one!) and gives you an idea of how long your cycle is and roughly when you ovulate.
How Does A Period Cycle Calculator Know When You Are Ovulating?
When you start using a period cycle calculator, you will mark your period’s first day as “Day 1” of your cycle. On average, women’s cycles last 28 days, but the point of using a period cycle calculator is to find out your cycles as it can vary between women.
Now that we know ovulation is when an egg is released and ready to be fertilized (although I’m sure most of you knew this already), using a period cycle calculator can give you an approximate idea of when you are ovulating. Ovulation tends to happen between day 11 to 21 of a woman’s cycle. Once you begin tracking on a period, some factors you may want to make a note of are:
When you started your period (again, this would be “Cycle Day 1” and potentially a day to curse out loud)
Record every day you have your period (to see how long it lasts)
PMS Symptoms (cramps, back pain, homicidal thoughts towards those who audibly exhale near you, etc.)
The number of days between one cycle of Aunt Flo to the next cycle
If you experience any symptoms around ovulation (slight cramping on one side indicating that ovulation has happened, if you notice you break-out, get a headache, etc.)
The more you understand your period and when you’re ovulating, you’ll get an idea of when is the best time to have sex. Again, when you’re ovulating is your most fertile time, so the closer you are to having sexual relations, you are around the time you ovulate, the greater your chances are of conceiving. If all goes well, your period cycle calculator will be able to indicate if your next cycle is late, which could potentially mean that you’re pregnant.
What if You’re Using A Period Cycle Calculator but Have Fertility Concerns?
If you are a woman who is under 35 years old (god, I miss those years!) and have been trying to conceive for over twelve months OR if you’re over 35 years old (hello my fellow ‘over 35-year-olds’!) and have been trying for over six months, you should put down the period calendar and pick up your phone to schedule a fertility consultation.
Now, let’s say you don’t fit into the above, BUT you’ve been using a period cycle calculator and still feel like you’re not able to pinpoint exactly when you’re ovulating; you can either try other approaches like ovulation prediction kits, take your basal body temperature each morning (I was always too sleepy and lazy to do this) or check your cervical mucus (yes, you read that right) to see when it’s most “fertile.” This entails seeing when the mucus looks “egg white” so you can make a baby omelet! (Ok, bad metaphor, but we’re talking about cervical mucus, and we needed something to keep me from gagging!)
However, it’s worth noting that if your periods are irregular, you have missed periods or experience irregular periods, simply can’t figure out when the hell your body ovulates, or are worried you have a fertility issue, you should consider seeing a fertility doctor. Sometimes, conditions such as a hormonal imbalance or polycystic ovarian syndrome can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle that can be addressed.
Period cycle calculators can be a supportive tool in helping you learn more about your cycle and be an introduction to your reproductive health
Ultimately though, if you have concerns, you should feel comfortable to seek out any medical advice to provide added insight and reinforcement in achieving not just a pregnancy but a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby!
To read more from the amazing Jay Palumbo, click here