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Fertility Awareness – By Hannah Pearn

What is fertility awareness and why am I always banging on about it?

Fertility Awareness, when you want to get pregnant, is all about observing and tracking your fertility signs so you know whether or not you’re potentially fertile on any given day.

If you have a regular menstrual cycle, then you are likely to be fertile (able to get pregnant) for roughly 5 days within each cycle. Men, on the other hand, are potentially fertile every single day and the key to maximising your chances of pregnancy is knowing when your most fertile time is and having enough sex through your fertile window.

Women only have approximately 5 days of fertility each month, because once the egg is released it survives for around 12 to 24 hours and as each hour passes, its ability to be fertilised decreases as the qualities of it also decrease. As sperm can live in the body for up to 5 days, sex before ovulation can still result in a pregnancy. In fact, and somewhat surprisingly, statistically your most fertile day is the day BEFORE the egg is released. Studies have shown that having fresh sperm waiting for the release of the egg is the best way to maximise chances of fertilisation and pregnancy.

This is why it is key to know when you’re about to ovulate!

So, how do I know when I am most fertile?

Well a lot of people rely on Ovulation Predictor Kits to show them when they’re about to ovulate. And while these can be helpful, they also come with their disadvantages. They’re expensive, they promote daily stress (in an already stressful time), they’re not helpful if you have PCOs (polycystic ovaries) and studies have shown that if you rely on these to time your sex, it’s common to have less sex and therefore less chance for success.

My preferred method is all about knowing and understanding your fertile signs. The two main ones I encourage my clients to look at are Cervical Mucus and Basal Body Temperature.

Cervical Mucus can show you when your body is preparing to ovulate and therefore signals the best time to have sex. Taking your Basal Body Temperature can confirm you have actually ovulated, so is a check against your cervical mucus and confirmation you timed sex appropriately.

Studies have shown that people who understand and know their cycle in this way have a shorter time to pregnancy and are quickly able to spot issues that might be affecting their ability to conceive. It’s pretty shocking isn’t it, that we’ve all been told how to NOT get pregnant, but few of us have ever received any education or advice on improving our chances of conception and understanding how fertility works! We’re here to change that.

So what do I need to do?

To check for cervical mucus it’s important to start looking for it on a daily basis once your period has finished:

  • Look before and after each wee/bowel movement
  • Check your loo paper, is it shiny, can you see any cervical mucus on it
  • Notice the sensation when you wipe, does it slide, or does it drag? If it slides, then there is lubrication, and this is your cervical mucus.
  • When you notice it, it’s your clue to have enough regular sex (every other day) through your window.

Why is it so important?

Because without it you can’t get pregnant. Cervical mucus is a fluid produced by the cervix which allows the sperm to stay alive and travel through the vagina and cervix to meet the egg. Without it the sperm cannot stay alive, it’s that simple.

Want to find out more?

 I have written a whole online course called Teaching to Conceive (TTC) which goes into all of the above in much more detail. The aim is to empower people to understand their cycles and their fertility and feel more in control whilst they are trying to get pregnant.

Alternatively, come and get help from us 1-2-1. We offer acupuncture, Chinese herbs and fertility massage to support people trying to get pregnant both naturally and via IVF, and we offer fertility awareness as a part of the treatment.

Or follow me on Instagram @hannahpearnacupuncture where I spend a lot of time talking about all these issues and more.