Tracking your fertility cycle can be used as both a natural form of birth control and to increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Women are most fertile the day of and five days before ovulation. This is because an egg only survives about 24 hours, while sperm can live for up to five days. Some methods used to track your fertility cycle are not for the squeamish, but they do give valuable information. Doctors even use these signs to help discover potential fertility problems.
How to Track Your Fertility Cycle
Monitor the consistency of your vaginal secretions, also known as cervical fluid, throughout your cycle. Nearing ovulation and up to ovulation your cervical fluid will become wetter and more slippery. This provides a lubricated fluid for the sperm to travel through to reach the egg easily.
Take and record your basal body temperature every morning. Do this first thing when you wake up and before getting out of bed. The day after ovulation your temperature will increase significantly. It takes about three days of high temperatures to be sure the increase was due to ovulation.
Use ovulation detector kits. With these, you urinate on a stick and the results tell you if ovulation is likely to occur within one to three days.
Check the position of your cervix throughout your cycle. Do this by inserting your fingers into your vaginal cavity and touching the cervix (at the opening of your uterus). During your fertile period, your cervix is easier to feel. Toni Weschler in “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” recommends remembering the acronym SHOW. You are fertile when your cervix is “soft, high, open and wet.”
The American Pregnancy Association warns that, used as a form of birth control, fertility tracking has been shown to have a 25 percent failure rate. This is likely due to human error in tracking fertility signs.