The fertility awareness method and tracking your cervical fluid
If you've been in this for the long haul with me and have been a part of my community since way back when then you already know how this journey began. And if you're new here, let me proudly let you in on how I got started and how I grew my female-strong community: by talking about PERIODS.
First of all, let me say I LOVE that this conversation has come out from under the table and is all over social media. However, let me also say, that it is still shocking how much misguided and misinformed 'educational' content I have come across. So I've decided it's time to refresh and set the record straight.
Let this be your guide to understanding your cycle and syncing your life to your natural rhythms. We have been taught to see our periods as a burden when really, we should embrace our womanhood! The ebbs and flows (literally lol) of your cycle are a beautiful thing, and understanding these parts of you can lead to some serious glowing up - and you know we are HERE for that.
FYI, today is not about birth control methods or the negative side effects of hormonal birth control. We'll save that for another day, as that is an entire topic in and of itself. If you want that info now, though, you can search for it in the podcast directory (I've already done several episodes on it).
Today is about THE FERTILITY AWARENESS METHOD.
Let's get some facts straight before we begin... If you are having sex, there is a 1000% percent chance that you could become pregnant, so just remember that little fact. It is also good to know that if you take hormonal birth control, there is a 6% chance of becoming pregnant. If you combine TWO methods, you can drop that down to a 1-2% chance of becoming pregnant.
The two methods I use with my fiancé are the fertility awareness method and, on the days surrounding ovulation, the pull-out method. Remember, sperm can live inside a healthy vagina for up to five days, so it's really important (if you want to use this method) that you understand your body and its tell-tale signs of which phase of your cycle you are currently in.
I will give you basic, typical changes to look out for using one thing that never lies: your cervical fluid. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is for you to get to know your own body because it may differ slightly.
Cervical mucus has a biological purpose. Without the presence of it, sperm would die very quickly in the vagina. Cervical mucus neutralizes the PH level of the vagina, nourishes and feeds sperm, and allows it to make the journey to the egg. Certain types of cervical mucus also filter out bad sperm, only allowing the “right” sperm to reach the egg. How cool is that?!
Your cycle begins with the menstrual phase. Day one of your cycle is day one of your bleed. Once you stop bleeding, you enter the follicular phase.
FOLLICULAR PHASEAfter your period, you're pretty dry and maybe a bit tacky. Of course, you're never FULLY dry because the vagina is a mucus membrane. But if you were to put your fingers up your vagina, there wouldn't be much on your fingers. Then things still start to pick up, and you might get a bit damp and white cervical fluid. Non-peak (peak meaning: ovulation warning bells) cervical fluid is like hand moisturizer consistency. After menstruation, you may notice several days of dryness, and then you'll notice that your cervical fluid starts to change. When your cervical fluid starts to become pronounced, and like moisturizer, that's kind of the 'warning bells' that ovulation is coming.
Cervical mucus plays a key role in conception. Estrogen peaks just before ovulation. This causes cervical mucus to change from pasty or creamy to resembling stretchy, raw egg whites. This wet, slippery discharge makes it easier for sperm to swim up the vagina and into the uterus to meet an egg. If you have sex at this time, you increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Think of your uterus as a swimming pool, your cervical mucus as water, and the sperm as a person trying to swim. If the water was thick or mud-like, there's no way a person could swim through it to reach the other side of the pool. This is how hard it is for sperm to reach your fallopian tubes if your cervical mucus isn't fertile. It's easier for sperm to swim up the uterus to meet an egg for conception in thin, wet, egg-white mucus.
So to recap: your 'peak' for ovulation cervical fluid looks like raw egg whites, clear or partly clear. The key thing is: it's slippery!
Then you'll dry up again and maybe have some light cervical fluid or more like cloudy clumpy cervical fluid. Another good thing to know is in your luteal phase, there is no more egg to be fertilized. There is only about a 24-48 hour window in which your egg can be fertilized after ovulation, but it's still good to be careful for a few days because, as I mentioned before, sperm can live in a healthy vagina for up to five days.
The most important thing is that you get to know your cervical fluid!
One question I often get is: What if you didn't ovulate?
Sometimes, none of your follicles reach the ovulation finish line. But you can still bleed. Why? Because your follicles still make estrogen as they grew and tried to ovulate. And remember, estrogen stimulates fertile mucus and thickens your uterine lining. And eventually, that uterine lining will have to shed. Anovulatory cycles are not true menstrual cycles with all the steps of ovulation, corpus luteum, and a luteal phase, and things like stress, travel, and too much exercise can absolutely disrupt your ovulation.
Also, sidenote: happy 300th episode I've released two episodes for you on the podcast this week to celebrate the occasion. If you loved this information and would like to dive even deeper, then go listen to BOTH episodes 300 and 301 right now!