Fertility Indicators. The Cornerstone of Fertility Awareness
Natural Family Planning and Fertility Awareness are ideal methods of controlling your fertility to either get pregnant quickly or delay getting pregnant until another day. Identifying ovulation is the key and your body gives you it's own natural indicators about when you're ovulating.
Your fluctuating hormones before, during, and after ovulation cause noticeable body symptoms that can be used to identify the stages of your fertility throughout the month. Three of these symptoms are particularly easy to identify and are therefore used most often to pinpoint ovulation and the fertile window.
1. Waking (Basal) Body Temperature (BBT).
BBT is your body's basic internal temperature, measured under the tongue after a good night's sleep using a highly accurate thermometer. It's your body's temperature when only basic functions, like breathing, pumping blood, and hormone secretion, are creating heat.
Your BBT stays relatively stable before ovulation, until ovulation causes the heat producing hormone progesterone to be secreted into the body. This causes your BBT to rise, and can be clearly noted when comparing BBT before and after ovulation.
Track your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) on a graph to see your temperature shift. When that temperature shift occurs it is a sign that progesterone is being secreted for ovulation. The infertile phase of your cycle will begin a few days after ovulation.
2. Cervical Mucus consistency
You've probably realized that cervical mucus, the wet discharge that you often find in your underpants, varies in abundance and consistency throughout the month. That is not a fluke. Cervical mucus plays an important role in conception, and changes throughout the month depending on your fertile status.
Cervical mucus can be observed in three main states. First, cervical mucus is dry and tacky. The consistency of this mucus traps sperm and stops it from entering the uterus. It is a sign that you are in the infertile part of your cycle. As you get closer to ovulation, mucus begins the thin out and become cloudy and slightly stretchy. At this stage, the mucus protects and nourishes sperm while it awaits the arrival of a viable egg.
When ovulation occurs, a single egg that can be fertilized for 12-24 hours maximum travels into the fallopian tubes. Your body now produces a unique 'peak fertility' cervical mucus. This mucus is clear and slippery; often called 'egg white mucus.' It allows sperm to freely and speedily travel towards the egg. When your fertile window is over, this sperm nourishing mucus is no longer necessary and the body stops producing it. Cervical mucus rapidly changes back to the same dry and tacky consistency it was at the beginning of your cycle.
3. Elevated LH (Luteninizing Hormone)
The LH hormone has two main functions in the menstrual cycle. First, lower levels of LH hormone stimulate the ovarian follicles and help an egg mature. Later in your cycle, LH levels rise considerably, causing the follicles to burst open and release a fully mature egg. Essentially, this sudden surge in LH levels is responsible for causing ovulation to occur.
High levels of LH hormone can be detected by urine test strips, similar to pregnancy tests. Positive LH tests indicate ovulation will occur within a day or two, and you are at the peak of your fertile window.