When you've made up your mind that you want to start trying for a baby, it can be tricky knowing exactly when you should be "doing it." You know you should be ovulating, but when exactly is that? While ovulation typically happens 14 days before you have a period, that can fluctuate from woman to woman. And precision is key.
Over-the-counter ovulation tests can help, but they can be pricey. The best thing to do is to take cues from your body by following the ovulation method (or Billings method). Once you know when you're ovulating, your chances for a successful conception will improve. The key to knowing when you're ovulating? Cervical mucus. It sounds icky, but trust us, cervical mucus is your best friend when you're trying to conceive.
A few things to know:
- Check for ovulatory mucus at the same time every day.
- Check after a bowel movement to get the best "read." You can look at toilet paper after you wipe or insert a clean finger into your vagina and reach for your cervix.
- Wear black underwear, or a dark pantyliner, especially around the time you suspect ovulation. (To better see it.)
- There are four different phases of discharge: Fertile, highly fertile, not fertile, and least fertile. By knowing what all four look like (see the helpful images in our slideshow), you'll be more likely to recognize the highly fertile cervical mucus (and know when to have sex for best baby-making results).
Bear in mind: "Every woman has a different pH balance, a different level of bacteria and good yeast in the vagina that can cause different amounts of discharge," says midwife Kristin Mallon, CNM. So if you don't see four distinct types of discharge during the course of your cycle, it's no cause for concern.
Images via © iStock.com/Piotr Marcinski; Daquella Manera/Flickr