When you are trying to conceive, it’s natural to want to know firstly whether you are fertile. Secondly, you wonder when is the best time for sex in order to become pregnant. There are lots of ways to detect signs of high fertility in a woman. Some of them involve testing kits, for example, the test for a rise in luteinizing hormone (LH). Conversely, if you have any fertility worries, there are tests available that could flag up low fertility, for example, a test for high prolactin levels. There are also plenty of ways you can work out signs of high fertility just by observing the natural physical changes in your body throughout the monthly cycle.
In this IVI blog article, we are taking a look at some of these tell-tale signs of high fertility and how to interpret them so that you have all the information you need to help maximize your chances of conception.
Signs of high fertility you can observe for yourself
The most obvious sign of fertility is if you have regular periods. This is very likely to be an indication that you are ovulating in the normal way and should not have any difficulties conceiving.
A regular menstrual cycle
The most common interval between periods is 28 days, but a cycle can vary between 21 and 45 days. The important thing is the regularity rather than the exact interval. Ovulation normally takes place between 10 and 16 days before the start of your next period. If you track the start date of your period over a few months, you should be able to work out the approximate date of ovulation and so your highly fertile period will be from five days before to one day after ovulation.
Monitoring basal temperature
You can also predict the date of ovulation, and therefore your period of high fertility, by monitoring your temperature. There is a slight increase in temperature on the day of or the day after ovulation. It remains high for around 11 days. By charting your temperature over a period of months, you could, as with monitoring your period start dates, gain enough information to predict reliably when you are due to ovulate in future months. This method is quite tricky to use since the difference in temperature is very slight. For the best chance of accuracy, it is important to take your temperature at the same time each day, ideally immediately upon waking up and before doing anything else.
Changes in vaginal discharge
The cervical mucus method, in which you observe changes in your vaginal discharge over the menstrual cycle, can also be used as a forecast of when you are likely to ovulate. Just before ovulation, as the egg starts to ripen before being expelled by the ovary, your body makes more mucus. This is normally white, cloudy, or yellow and feels stickier than normal. This method is quite often used in conjunction with both the calendar and temperature methods to build up a picture of your ovulation cycle.
Using a testing kit to show times of high fertility
Nowadays, most women who wish to check on their times of high fertility choose to use a test kit. An ovulation test checks levels of LH in your urine and is as easy to use as a pregnancy test. You simply hold the test stick in your urine stream for around six seconds. Alternatively, you can collect urine in a clean, dry container and place the stick into the container.
Not all tests work in the same way. Some show a smiley face or another positive symbol to show that the test has detected a surge in LH. This shows you that you are due to ovulate within a couple of days. This is a very convenient method of identifying your high fertility days. It is also likely to be more accurate than the self-observation methods, with an estimated accuracy rate of 97%.
Can you have high fertility and be pregnant?
Clearly, if you are pregnant, you can’t become pregnant again. So, strictly speaking, once you are pregnant you are temporarily no longer fertile. Although most of us do not see it that way, rather looking at pregnancy as the ultimate proof of fertility. Some confusion can arise because of a particular characteristic of ovulation testing kits. While they test for LH and pregnancy tests analyze the presence of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which have very different purposes, the proteins are quite similar in structure. This can occasionally lead to a situation where an ovulation test shows a positive result even though the woman is already pregnant and therefore not about to ovulate. Fortunately, this is rare, especially as you would be unlikely to take a test towards the end of your cycle, i.e., just before your next period is due.
What are the signs and tests for low fertility?
The same as for high fertility, the most obvious sign that your fertility may be compromised is having irregular periods or even none. This could signal ovulation difficulties or even the absence of ovulation. What are the reasons for this and how can you test for low fertility?
You could arrange a test for high prolactin levels, which could indicate a problem with the pituitary gland. This can be a sign of prolactinoma, a benign tumor of the pituitary gland which results in it producing too much prolactin. The major effect of this is a disruption of the hormones which regulate fertility and can cause infertility.
How can IVI help?
There are many possible causes of infertility. Most of the tests you would need for a diagnosis, which would be the first step towards successful treatment, are not the kind you could carry out on yourself at home. If you have any worries about your fertility and have not conceived after a year (or six months if you are over 35) of trying, then the most positive thing you can do is to consult a fertility specialist. At IVI, as part of the largest assisted reproduction group in the world, we have vast experience in diagnosis as well as treatment for infertility. Why not browse our website to see which tests and treatments are available, in particular, diagnostic testing for infertility.
You can also get in touch via our online contact form. It could be your first step towards a positive outcome for your family plans.