Understanding Your Fertility IS Your Superpower!

March 2024 | Dr. Madelein Shafferman

Understanding Your Fertility

Fertility and the journey to conceive are hot topics — and for good reason! Understanding fertility isn’t just essential when you’re ready to start a family; it’s crucial for understanding your health and preventing pregnancy if that’s your goal!

Fertility, simply put, is the ability to conceive. Conception occurs when a sperm cell fertilizes an egg cell, marking the beginning of pregnancy as the fertilized egg implants itself into the lining of the uterus. Whether you’re trying to conceive (TTC) or taking measures to avoid pregnancy, fertility awareness is important for you and your partner!

Read along to discover the power of understanding your fertility. From tracking your menstrual cycle to exploring contraception options, this blog explores the intricacies of fertility awareness and optimization.

Fertility 101: Finding Your Fertile Window

There are roughly six days throughout the average menstrual cycle that, if unprotected intercourse occurs, may result in conception and pregnancy.  These days are referred to as the fertile window.

Let’s break down what makes up these six days! Your Fertile Window includes:

  • The 4-5 days leading up to ovulation 
  • The day of ovulation 
  • The day after ovulation (when an egg is released)

Why is the Fertile Window THESE 6 Days?

In this window, the body is naturally preparing for potential conception, maintaining ideal pH levels for sperm to survive. If conditions permit, healthy sperm can live for up to 5 days in the uterus or fallopian tubes, waiting for the egg to be released. Once released, a viable egg must be fertilized within 12-24 hours for conception to commence.

Taking Advantage of That Window of Opportunity

Whether you’re trying to conceive or avoid getting pregnant, tracking your cycle can help you to determine your fertility window! Once you know this valuable piece of information, you can plan accordingly. If unprotected sex occurs in the first 4-5 days leading up to ovulation, or the day after ovulation, the sperm and egg have a chance to meet!

With that being said, one-cycle-does-not-fit-all! The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long — meaning it is common for women to have shorter or longer cycles ranging from 21-35 days long! With variations in cycles, it’s important to note that your fertility window can be different on a month-by-month basis, too.

Fertility and Contraception

Steps to Take to Avoid Pregnancy

If you’re not ready to start a family, understanding your fertility and options to avoid conception is important! Contraception, also known as birth control, refers to methods or devices used to prevent pregnancy. These methods work by either preventing the release of an egg (ovulation), blocking sperm from reaching an egg, or preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.

There are numerous types of contraception available including:

  • Physical Barrier Methods: condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps
  • Hormonal Methods: birth control pills, patches, injections, or vaginal rings)
  • Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)
  • Sterilization: tubal ligation (for women) and vasectomy (for men)
  • Natural Family Planning (aka fertility awareness): tracking your menstrual cycle and avoiding intercourse during the fertile window

Choosing the right contraception depends on various factors, including hormonal and overall health, lifestyle, and preferences! While these methods can be highly effective, some options are more reliable than others, and some options require further testing to pinpoint your exact fertile days and fertility status. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most suitable method for YOU.

Fertility Optimization

What to Do When Fertility Efforts Don’t Match Outcomes

If you’re TTC, and the “try, try again” mantra isn’t working for you, there may be a few factors at play. For instance, ovulation doesn’t always occur predictably every month, or precisely in the middle of the menstrual cycle. This unpredictability can be influenced by changes in sleep, exercise, stress levels, and other underlying hormonal or metabolic factors. Similarly, issues with sperm motility or viability can impact fertilization and pregnancy.

It’s essential to remember that infertility is typically diagnosed after 12 months of actively trying to conceive without success. During this time, seeking support from a fertility optimization specialist can provide valuable insights into ovulation patterns and sperm health.

At ISAIH Natural Medicine, we are committed to helping you understand and optimize your fertility journey! Whether you’re trying to avoid pregnancy or are eager to start your family, our specialists are here to empower you in achieving your health and fertility goals.