When you search google for anything surrounding pregnancy, one of the top search results is “how to get pregnant fast.”
Coming from someone who has dealt with her own hormonal struggles, I can understand the desire. Plus, isn’t that the bill of goods sold to us? Just stop preventing and it’ll happen!
I can’t tell you how many of my friends I’ve talked with about this. It’s amazing how when we were children we thought it happened like that (finger snap accompanying). But as adults, we often are faced with a different reality.
So what’s a girl to do when she’s experiencing regular visits from “Aunt Flo” but there’s no positive pregnancy test in sight?
(Psst – if you’re not having regular menstrual cycles, there are SO many reasons from PCOS to hypothalamic amenorrhea to others. Educate yourself and start with a visit to your OBGYN)
In this post we’re talking about going from uncertain and nervous to confident and informed about starting your pregnancy journey so that you can increase your chances of getting pregnant.
The importance of cycle length for getting pregnant
One of the reasons getting pregnant is such a challenge is because, as women, many of us haven’t been taught the basics about our bodies.
I thought I knew plenty after sex ed in school.
Yeah…. I was wrong.
Too often we’re told as women, “You have a 28-day-cycle. So if you want to get pregnant you just need to time sex around day 14!”
But this just isn’t true for most of us!
To begin with, the 28-day-cycle is an average. Your cycle may range from a whole week shorter to a whole week longer.
So imagine you’re trying to get pregnant so you’re timing intercourse for day 14.
If your cycle is 21 days long – you’re likely way past ovulation.
And if your cycle is 35 days long – you may not even be close to releasing your egg!
You might be thinking, well I know my cycle length is “X” number of days, so I’ll just divide that in half! Unfortunately, you still may not be in the right ballpark.
Women can ovulate on different days, even if their cycle length stays the same.
If you don’t learn to track your cycle, you may be at risk for completely missing the boat when it comes to ovulation. And if sperm and egg don’t meet, then all the google searches in the world for “how to get pregnant” won’t help.
The 3 starting steps for how to get pregnant naturally
So let’s break this down into how we can learn to track our cycles and get pregnant (or not) more easily.
1. Basal body temperature (BBT) charting
Charting your basal body temperature is one of the keys to learning your personal menstrual cycle. It can help you determine when you’re fertile, when you’re not, and even when you’re pregnant.
Your BBT changes throughout your cycle based on your hormonal changes.
In the beginning of your cycle, BBT is lower. After ovulation, BBT increases. So if you see a shift in your temperatures up, you’ve likely ovulated. And when your period comes around, you’ll see those temperatures drop.
(By the way, when charting, the first day of a bleed is cycle day 1.)
How to take your basal body temperature
You’ll find your basal body temperature (BBT) by taking your temp first thing in the morning.
There are quite a few recommendations about how “best” to do this.
Most say you shouldn’t eat/drink, talk, or even move much before taking it. The thermometer should be the first thing you reach for besides turning off the alarm (or snoozing the alarm 😉). And you should take your BBT at relatively the same time everyday.
However, I also want to point out that everyone is a little different.
Some women find they’re BBT changes dramatically if they get up and go to the bathroom in the morning before taking their temp. Others won’t see much of a difference.
Other ladies find drinking alcohol the night before completely skews their temp. And still others find that waking at different times seems to be no problem for them.
All that to say, find what works for you. Try to take note of what makes your temperature fluctuate so you can take that into consideration.
Side note – there are a lot of things that can alter your BBT. One of the most common is thyroid and adrenal dysfunction. So if you find your temp is consistently low (<97 degrees F) or all over the place, it might be something to look into. This is especially true because less than optimal thyroid or adrenal function can decrease your fertility.
P.S. This is the thermometer I use if you’d like a recommendation (affiliate link)
While BBT gives you a lot of great information about the quality of your cycle, you’ll see BBT doesn’t help you figure out when you’re ovulating, just whether you have or not.
So for timing intercourse, we need to look at another indicator.
2. Charting your cervical fluid
Perhaps a little more complicated than taking your basal body temperature, cervical fluid is a better indicator for timing intercourse. And as we said earlier, this is one of the most important aspects to getting pregnant naturally.
Just like your temperature changes throughout the menstrual cycle, so does your cervical fluid.
What is cervical fluid?
You’ve probably noticed this before and just not had any idea what it was. This is the fluid you feel at the entrance to the vagina (though it’s different than arousal fluid). Some days you may have noticed it feels more wet “down there” than other days.
In the days leading up to ovulation, your body produces more and more cervical fluid. And the consistency changes, too. These changes either help or hinder sperm on their journey.
Right after the end of their bleed, most women experience a few days of drier, stickier fluid. This type of fluid keeps the sperm from traveling freely. Sticky, dry fluid = less chance for pregnancy.
Gradually, the cervical fluid will change, becoming more and more watery and fertile. These are the days when you’re most likely to get pregnant, as the sperm can move more easily.
The most fertile type of cervical fluid is called “eggwhite.” This allows sperm to move most freely. Some (but not all) women experience this in the days leading up to ovulation.
If you’re interested in checking out what the different kinds of cervical fluid look like, Babycenter has a nice set of photos.
Pictures are super helpful, but eventually you’ve got to check it for yourself.
How to check for cervical fluid
Just as with checking BBT, there are different ideas as to what is “best.”
Some women say they like to get up close and personal with the cervix itself and check out the fluid from there. Not my favorite but some ladies are for it.
Others advocate the wipe method. Take a piece of toilet tissue and place it at the vaginal opening. Give a little wipe. Take a look at what’s on the TP and rub the fluid between your fingers. What’s it look and feel like? Crumbly, sticky, creamy, watery? All of these are possibilities.
This takes a little practice but you’ll eventually be able to start telling the difference.
On fertile days, you may even notice a feeling of more lubrication in general. Or some extra fluid in your underwear. So a good place to start is just being more aware of your body in general.
3. Checking cervical position
For many women (myself included), checking cervical position is the most challenging.
To begin with, it’s a bit more time consuming. And it takes a little more time to fully grasp what you’re feeling.
Just as your temperature and your cervical fluids change over the course of your cycle, so does the position of your cervix.
Towards the beginning of the menstrual cycle, at the end of your period, the cervix is low and hard. Oftentimes it’s compared as feeling like the tip of your nose.
When you’re getting closer to ovulation, the cervix rises and becomes softer. Sometimes, this is compared to feeling more like your lips. Other times, you might not be able to feel the cervix at all depending on how high it is.
Other than positional changes because of menstrual cycle hormones, your cervix can also change position after intercourse. Some women also notice their cervix is more to one side than the other. All things to think about when you’re checking its position.
How to check the position of your cervix
There are a couple different methods for checking the position of your cervix in your quest to get pregnant naturally. All of them involve placing a (freshly washed) finger into the vagina and sliding it up towards your head.
Some women prefer to do this in a squat, while others like to lay on their backs. Whatever your position of choice, make sure you move slowly and keep your nails short. No one wants a scratch inside their vagina. 😱
Remember, this takes some practice and you may not feel much at first.
When thinking about getting pregnant naturally, knowing your fertile days is key. And checking your basal body temperature, cervical fluid, and position of your cervix will give you insight into the best days for you.
But this is just the tip of the ice berg! If you want more information on getting pregnant or just learning more about the incredible female body, I highly recommend the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, MPH. (affiliate link)It goes into depth on this topic and SO MUCH MORE.
If you’re ready to start recording and making sense of your data, I recommend using an app. I personally use Fertility Friend because I like the chart. But I’ve heard great things about Femm (and there are like, 1098230748 more). There are even thermometers you can buy that sync to an app (Wink and Femometer to name a few).
Lastly, can I say if you’re struggling with infertility, you’re not alone friend. I know the journey can be lonely and confusing and painful. And I’m here to talk if you need it.
Want another recommendation for what to do before getting pregnant? Check out this post for something you’ve likely never heard before.