If sex ed and movies have left you feeling like people can get pregnant by looking at a guy the wrong way, you’re not alone. There’s a ton of misinformation about how and when you can actually get pregnant! It usually takes a lot more time and even a little planning to get pregnant. In fact, it takes many people up to a year of regular sex without contraception to get pregnant!
Why the wait?
There’s a lot of moving parts that have to work together to get pregnant. And it can take time. Some things to consider:
- If you’re currently using hormonal contraception, you’ll need to allow time to stop taking / remove this and give your body time to balance hormones and your cycle.
- To become pregnant, a healthy egg needs to be released (ovulated), and needs to move to an open and healthy fallopian tube. From here, a strong and healthy sperm needs to reach the egg in time and be accepted into the egg’s wall in order to fertilise it. And, your uterus needs to be nourished and ready to receive the fertilised egg.
- For those of us with a uterus, we can only get pregnant during the ‘fertile window’ of our menstrual cycles (3-5 days before and on the day of ovulation)
- By 12-24 hours after ovulation, that ready-to-go egg is no longer in your fallopian tube, meaning you’ll need to wait until your next cycle to try again
- Other factors such as stress, diet, body weight and certain medical conditions can affect how easy or difficult it is to get pregnant.
Okay, so there’s lots that needs to happen for a pregnancy to occur. And, it can also be simple to use your cycle as a guide that gives you super helpful information about your peak fertile times.
Let’s take a look.
How can I use my natural cycle to get pregnant?
Have you heard of FABM’s (or Fertility Awareness Based Methods)? It’s not that common to hear them talked about, but these are a set of ways to help predict and plan when you’re most likely to naturally get pregnant.
Some common FABM’s are:
- The oldest FABM in which you track the length of 6 to 12 menstrual cycles on a calendar, taking the average cycle length (worked out from your longest and shortest cycles) to work out the days you’re most likely to be fertile.
- You can then plan sex around the days of your fertile window (leading up to and including ovulation).
- Tracking your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) to work out when you’re ovulating and therefore when you should be having sex to increase chances of getting pregnant.
- Your BBT is usually between 36.1°C (97F) and 36.4°C (97.5F). After ovulation it rises to between 36.4°C (97.6F) and 37°C (98.6F).
- Using changes in cervical mucus (discharge) to estimate your fertile window. It helps to record changes onto a chart or calendar to work out when you’re ovulating (discharge usually increases and is more watery and clear around ovulation).
- If the above methods have you feeling a little overwhelmed, technology has come to the rescue!
- There’s now apps which you can use to track your cycle and fertility. Simply record the day your period starts and ends and any other symptoms or details, and your app can alert you to when you’re likely to be ovulating.
Whichever method you decide to use, the idea is the same across all of them - find out when you ovulate, and plan to have sex in the days leading up to, and on the day of ovulation as a way to improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Want to track your cycle with an app?