Babymaking Basics: Everything You Need to Know About Your Fertility Cycle

Fertility awareness may be a term that you are unfamiliar with. It simply means learning to read your body's special fertility signals. Becoming more conscious of your unique fertility cycle can help you, whether you are hoping to improve your chance of conceiving or would like to avoid conception. Becoming knowledgeable about your body’s own rhythm also helps you to better predict the date of your next menstruation, can help you know early on if you are pregnant, and can alert you to possible unhealthy changes if you detect a deviation from your typical patterns. This body awareness can be the ultimate in early preventive health care.

How Can You Become More Aware of Your Personal Fertility Signals?
Becoming familiar with your body’s fertility messages involves looking at three basic fertility signs -- basal body temperature (BBT), cervical secretion changes, and cervical position. All three of these markers of fertility change throughout a woman’s cycle. By observing these changes each day, and recording them you will begin to discover your own fertility rhythm.

Your Menstrual Cycle: A Key to Understanding Your Fertility
In understanding your fertility signs, it is very important that you become aware of the changes that take place in your body during the menstrual cycle. Menstruation is the shedding of the inner lining of the uterus when a pregnancy does not occur in that particular cycle. Your estrogen and progesterone levels are very low on the first day of menstruation, day one of your cycle. Estrogen levels begin to increase, stimulating the growth, or proliferation, of the lining of the uterus, in preparation for a pregnancy. Estrogen is the dominant hormone in the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle. Around day 14 of your cycle, and immediately prior to ovulation, estrogen levels peak, triggering a release of an egg from one of the ovaries. Once an egg is released, it can be fertilized for approximately 12 to 24 hours. This is the best time to have intercourse to achieve a pregnancy. Following ovulation, estrogen levels drop and progesterone rises and becomes dominant for the next two weeks. Progesterone causes the uterine lining to mature, becoming more compact, so that it is able to support and nurture a fertilized egg. If implantation of a fertilized egg does not occur, progesterone levels drop, causing the onset of menstruation, within 48 hours (around day 28).

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