Charting Your Cycle: How to Tell When You're Most Fertile

charting your cycle

Ovulation is just as significant for those trying to achieve pregnancy as it is for those trying to avoid it.

It’s pretty obvious when your period arrives, but what about that mysterious ovulation? Is it a secret thing that happens inside your body that not even you are privy to? When I first discovered how to read my body’s signs and properly track ovulation, I was totally blown away. Really? How could I not have known all of these magical secrets? How come they are not more widely shared? Why doesn’t every woman know this and talk about this???

I was bursting with new knowledge and wanted to share. It was actually all I wanted to talk about! My poor husband (boyfriend at the time) got an earful at every opportunity. He told me that he liked vaginas, but really didn’t need to know -that- much detail. I’ll admit, the information I was sharing wasn’t super sexy, but it directly related to sex. I literally wanted to go around talking about it with every woman that crossed my path. But asking the stranger next to you in yoga class if she knew what her cervical mucus was trying to tell her might not go over so well. 

I discovered that by tuning in and tracking three primary signs from your body, you could figure out exactly when your fertile days of the month are. These signs allow you to understand when you should take precautions if you don’t want to end up pregnant. They also act as a cue for when to get busy if you are trying to put a bun in the oven.

Sign One: Waking Body Basal Temperature

The time from ovulation to menstruation is known as the luteal phase. During this phase a woman’s waking temperature is kept suppressed by estrogen and ranges from about 97.0 to 97.7 Fahrenheit.

After ovulation, during the follicular phase (from day one of menses to ovulation) progesterone causes temperatures rise to 97.8 and higher.

What to do: Record your basal body temperature each morning immediately upon waking. Do this before you get out of bed (even if you’ve reeeeally gotta pee). You will be able to observe that your temperature becomes and remains higher after ovulation has occurred. Mystery solved!

Sign Two: Cervical Fluid/Mucus

Leading up to ovulation your body produces a distinct pattern of cervical mucus. If not explained, many women are unaware that this “discharge”, is actually an amazing cue from within. It is the substance that keeps sperm nourished on their journey to the golden egg. 

What to observe:

  • In a typical cycle after menstruation, there is a period of dryness with no cervical mucus.
  • As ovulation approaches a white, sticky or creamy fluid can be observed. This is accompanied by a cool sensation.
  • During your most fertile time (read: babymaking) cervical mucus is very slippery, stretchy and often clear. To cut to the chase…. it resembles egg whites. This is accompanied by a humid sensation and often more of an 'open' sensation that can be observed when using toilet paper after urinating.
  • After ovulation, there is a return to mostly dryness, with possible days of sticky fluid.

Sign Three: Cervical Position (optional)

This sign involves a more hands-on approach and requires that you are comfortable with your own body.

What to observe: Basically, around ovulation your cervix is soft, high and open. This is when you are most fertile. During infertile times your cervix is firm, low and closed.  

I firmly believe that every woman should receive a “charting your cycles” booklet upon her first menses, but that’s not happening. So please share this post with any menstruating woman you know. For further reading, I highly recommend Taking Charge Of Your Ferility by Toni Weschler. Knowledge is power.