Tracking your menstrual cycle by recording your basal body temperature, identifying changes in your cervical mucus, and lutenizing hormone testing are all incredibly informative ways to educate yourself about your cycle, and if interested in getting pregnant, or avoiding pregnancy, these markers are key in reaching your personal goals. Also important to note, just because you menstruate or bleed, does not mean you ovulated so these tracking tools can be helpful to identify if you are having issues ovulating. We want to ovulate regardless of whether we want to get pregnant or not because the only way we get all the benefits of progesterone is if we successfully ovulate. Your follicles will still produce estrogen as they grow and this rise in estrogen will cause the uterine lining to thicken (eventually this lining will have to shed even if a follicle did not mature into an egg and ovulation did not occur). Therefore, you may bleed to shed uterine lining without successfully ovulating. Tracking your cycle can help you identify if you are having difficulty ovulating and can help you reach your goals faster!If interested in learning more about tracking your basal body temperature there is a previous blog post I highly encourage you to read. Today we will focus on tracking a surge in luteinizing hormone also known as LH. Your LH surge or peak level can be measured in your urine and should be highest about 24-36 hours before ovulation occurs. To catch the LH surge it is recommended you test your levels between 12PM-8PM (an LH surge usually occurs in the morning but peak levels will be detected in the urine around 4 hours later).
You can use ovulation tests/monitor kits to test your urine at home. Note, if you have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) symptoms these kits can often be misleading…you may get multiple positive tests since PCOS patients tend to have abnormal fluctuations in LH hormone. Minimal LH levels that will usually trigger ovulation are 9+ but these numbers range with each woman so it can be helpful to track your own pattern to know trends.
Simple urine strip kits can purchased on Amazon such as the ones sold by Pregmate, and similar to a pregnancy test strip, an LH surge confirming ovulation will occur in the next 24-36 hours will be two lines, no surge will only be one line. Begin testing one week prior to your estimated ovulation date, once you get a positive test you can stop testing. Your most fertile days will be roughly the 3 days leading up to ovulation but conception can still occur roughly 2 days after ovulation. Therefore, there is a 5-6 day window in which you could conceivably get pregnant out of your roughly 28 day cycle…this is a small window so it’s important to be aware of your fertile signs and to not be discouraged if pregnancy does not occur immediately. Semen can survive for up to 5 days so having sex prior to ovulation is encouraged to increase the likelihood fertilization occurs or if avoiding pregnancy take that into consideration!
If you really want to refine your tracking and want actual number readings to see how your LH fluctuates throughout a cycle, more comprehensive kits can be purchased like the Mira Fertility Tracker available at MiraCare.com. Here is how it works- dip a test wand in your urine for 10 seconds, insert test wand into your device known as the mira analyzer & results will upload to your Mira App on your phone within 16 minutes,. You can also input basal body temperature, cervical mucus, & other signs into your APP for a detailed view of your fertile window and hormone patterns. This device definitely gives you a more comprehensive view of your hormone health versus basic test strips that do not give you numerical feedback.
Lastly, making babies and sex in general should be fun. Often times women find they finally get pregnant when they let go and relax so don't let tracking become too stressful. You are just gathering information. Approach with compassionate curiosity. Fertility should be looked at has a life long goal. Your health can profoundly influence your babies health. Once you are living a fertile lifestyle your body is more likely to produce the conditions necessary for an optimal pregnancy and beautiful baby. On the other hand, maybe your personal goals do not include getting pregnant. Regardless, a fertile body is a healthy body and I hope the resources I have shared with will help you reach your personal goals so you can glow and flow with ease.