As teenagers, we may not initially pay much attention to the details of our menstrual cycle other than it occasionally being an inconvenience. However, once you decide you want to have a family, knowing exactly how long your cycle is, when you ovulate, when the best time is to have sexual relations and when your period is due all become important pieces of information. This is why using a menstrual cycle calculator can help you on your path to parenthood.
What is a Menstrual Cycle?
We all know the basics, but in terms of trying to get pregnant and how a menstrual cycle calculator can help, it’s important to understand the specifics. Every month, your body releases an egg. This is called ovulation. When you ovulate, an egg is released from your ovary and enters in your fallopian tube waiting to be fertilized for a span of 12 to 24 hours. Five days after it fertilizes, arrives to the uterus to be implanted. Meanwhile, the lining in your uterus (known as the endometrium) becomes thicker to create a hospitable environment for the embryo to become implanted. Ideally, the embryo would implant in the thicker lining, and you would then be considered pregnant. However, when no eggs are fertilized, your body sheds this extra lining from the uterus, which causes bleeding that passes through the vagina; this is your period and it lasts for approximately three to five days. This entire process typically happens every month is considered your menstrual cycle.
A Menstrual Cycle Calculator Can Help You Conceive
The first day of your period is considered “Cycle Day 1,” and on average, women’s cycles typically last 28 days. Since we know that ovulation is when an egg is released and ready to be fertilized, using a menstrual cycle calculator can help you determine when you’re ovulating. Not only will a menstrual cycle calculator help you determine when is the best time for you to have sexual relations, but it will also help you know when to expect your next period. Ideally, if your next cycle is late, this could potentially mean that you’re pregnant.
Ovulation can happen any time between cycle day 11 to 21. Once you begin tracking your periods (whether you use an app on your phone, a spreadsheet on your computer, or a pen and piece of paper), you can determine when you are ovulating. Things to record when creating a menstrual cycle calculator are:
• Cycle Day 1 (again, this is the first day of your period. A common acronym is CD1)
• Each day you’re bleeding from your period (some people use CD2, CD3 for Cycle Day 2, Cycle Day 3, etc.)
• Any symptoms related to your period before the next cycle (cramps, bloating, irritability)
• The number of days between starting another menstrual cycle
• If you experience any symptoms around ovulation (some people report having egg-white cervical discharge which is more “sperm friendly” or slight cramping on one side indicating that ovulation has happened.
There are also over-the-counter ovulation prediction kits you can purchase at your local drug store, or you can take your basal body temperature each morning to help provide insight into when you ovulate, which you can also add to your menstrual cycle calculator. After a few months, you should see a regular menstrual cycle pattern emerge. If you have regular cycles and you are actively trying to conceive, there may come a time when your next “Cycle Day 1” doesn’t come, and it will indicate that you should consider taking a pregnancy test. On average, if you’re healthy and are having sexual relations around ovulation time, you should conceive within a year.
What a Menstrual Cycle Calculator Can’t Show
If your periods are irregular, the menstrual cycle calculator approach isn’t showing a steady cycle pattern, if you can’t seem to figure out when you’re ovulating, or you are worried you have a fertility issue, there’s no shame in seeking the help of a reproductive endocrinologist. Sometimes, there are conditions such as a hormonal imbalance or polycystic ovarian syndrome that can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle that can be addressed. Even if you need medical intervention to build your family, it may not be as invasive as you might think. There have been significant improvements in reproductive technology throughout the past forty years, which should enable you to feel confident that your doctor can provide you with proper direction and support. For example, there is now a test called the ERA test, which examines the uterine lining to assist in avoiding implantation failure by determining the best day to transfer an embryo, which may thus increase your chances of pregnancy.
Overall, if you are someone who is proactive enough to put together a menstrual cycle calculator, you are certainly someone proactive enough to look into a fertility consultation should you feel it is warranted. Rest easy knowing that you’re taking the right steps today to build your family for tomorrow.