I have seen it all: accidental pregnancies and OCD planned pregnancies; fertile myrtles and test tube babies. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that challenges with conceiving do not discriminate.
Which brings me to a pet peeve of mine. I get frustrated watching my friends who are over 35 and want to have a child but are not proactive about their fertility. Listen up friends — it doesn’t happen magically like in the movies and TV shows! And while I have known plenty of women over 35 who had no problems conceiving (myself included), time is not on your side. We have about 13 chances a year to get pregnant. That is not very much. You should know when ovulation day is nearby and get busy!
And when I say get busy, let’s throw out the notion that every attempt at conception needs to include candles, rose petals, and romantic mood music. Lingerie? Two-hour marathon sex? For five days in a row? Who has time for that?
I adore my husband. I think he is the most handsome man I have ever seen and I cherish our intimacy. But let’s be honest here, having sex does not always mean making sweet love. You may want sex to fulfill a physical and emotional need, but if you are really serious about getting pregnant, you might need to let go of your preconceived notions of how it should be. You may not be in the mood or even feel distant from your husband when you’re fertile, especially if you tend to get hormonal and cranky during this part of your cycle.
Nevertheless, you must bring yourself to have sex if you want to have a baby. Your precious few days of fertility–if you can master pinpointing when they are–should be looked at as a challenging recipe. If you want to cook a baby in your tummy, you need to have the right ingredients and follow the instructions. As long as the food is served with love, you can curse in the kitchen as much as you like.
Your fertility peaks one to two days before ovulation; therefore, it is crucial to figure out when you ovulate. There are several ways to determine your ovulation day. I take my temperature every morning before I get out of bed, right when I wake up. From the first day of your period until you ovulate, your temperature is slightly lower. When your temperature rises, it signals you have ovulated. By becoming familiar with your body’s patterns, rhythms, and signals, you can predict when that temperature elevation is nearby. The temperature remains elevated until the first day of your period, so if your temperature doesn’t drop you get a major clue that you might be pregnant.
I also check my cervical mucus. It is not as horrid as it might sound. The book mentioned below goes into great detail about it and I will just say that when it looks like egg whites, it’s time to grab your man and drag him to the bedroom. The egg white cervical mucus usually precedes ovulation by a day or two, and it greatly aids conception. If your man can handle it, you will want to have sex every day from the day you detect cervical mucus up to and including the day after your temperature rises.
Now that I’ve grossed you out, here are some practical tips on how to figure out when you’re ovulating.
Step 1: Read Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, MPH. This book taught me so much about my body. I learned how my body works and how to interpret its signals. Every woman should read this whether they want to conceive or not.
Step 2: Register for and learn how to use FertilityFriend.com. I love this site. I used to manually chart my temperature and cervical mucus, but this website makes it so much easier. It helps you chart your possible fertile days, ovulation days, and period days to maximize your chances of conceiving. It also has great forums to consult with other women and picture galleries that are worth thousands of words. Membership for three months is less than $20.
Step 3: Buy a basal thermometer. I had a friend say she could not find one anywhere. I have only one response to that: Here!
Step Four: Check your cervical mucus. I can figure out when I am fertile just from observing it.
I hope with my all of my heart that my friends and all the women out there who are trying to conceive will be motivated to take charge of their fertility sooner rather than later. With a bit of diligence and the right tools, you too can truly increase your odds of getting pregnant.