How to Tell You’re Fertile
Here’s my guide to avoiding fertility faux pas and getting real answers.
Take a selfie and send it to the egg whisperer (me) and I’ll tell you all about your fertility….
Oh, if only it was that easy! Your fertility isn’t skin deep and for now you still can’t put botox in your ovary! (Sad, but true).
But this is the thing, there ARE tests that you can do to find out if you’re fertile.
I see so many patients and have for over 10 years now that say that they really didn’t know where to start. That they had no clue there were tests they could do or monitors they could buy to find out when they’re most fertile.
And many think the reason they aren’t conceiving is because the “sperm is falling out.” No people, that’s called gravity. The swimmers swim up, the semen comes out. However, pro tip: I do tell patients to put a pillow under their bum for 10 minutes following sex and to then use the restroom to avoid a urine infection.
But back to the topic at hand. Let me throw out a stat for you.
Us women spend only about 25 years MAX having fertility.
As the saying goes for so many other time sensitive aspects of life, “you either use it (your fertility) or lose it.”
Which side do you want to be on?
Still today, far too many people see me when their fertile window is closing.
I want to change that.
I want people to know about the simple tests they can do to understand their fertility wherever they are in the process of thinking about or planning for a family.
There are 365 days in a year. If you’re a woman having regular cycles then on 12 of those precious 365 days an egg is released. Let that sink in. There are TWELVE days, or 3% of the total year when you’re fertile. If you don’t know when that window of hyper fertility occurs then you could be missing out on making a baby.
So how do you know when your 12 days are?
Overall, it starts with getting smart about your own body. I want you to know the methods and to be aware of what works about them, but also what the downsides are too.
Take a look at the chart showing menstrual hormones during the cycle:
Notice how the cycle is divided.
- Your ovulation can vary from cycle to cycle which we call the first half or the follicular phase.
- The second half is the luteal phase.
- While the first half can vary re: number of days, the second half or the luteal phase number of days tends to be constant.
Tracking your ovulation is a great way to pinpoint and identify your most fertile window (because remember, that day varies).
An egg is microscopic and can’t be seen without a microscope. So you won’t see an egg in the egg white cervical mucus but you may see vaginal discharge that’s stretchy like egg whites starting a few days before ovulation. Use this sign to start being intimate.
Okay so what about tracking body temperature? Please don’t wake yourself up at 4AM every day and certainly don’t stab your eyeball out with the thermometer. If you’re a patient seeing me, you’ll often here me say, “Put the thermometer down.” Here’s why:
Your temperature rises 12–24 hours AFTER ovulation.
So temping, while a tool some people use because it doesn’t cost a thing gives you retroactive information, and that’s not helpful. In other words, by the time you learn about your ovulation via body temperature reading your fertile window practically closed.
Using a urine test (OPK) that detects a hormone released by the brain 36 hours before ovulation helps give you a good idea when your most fertile window lies.
However, there are issues with this method:
1. Just because you don’t see a positive doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t ovulating. It just means the tests aren’t very accurate! A trend toward positive (darker test line) and then lighter lines later = you had a positive!
2. Be sure to have sex leading up to your positive OPK because you may have already ovulated by the time you tested positive. Sperm can wait for eggs for several days. Eggs hang out for hours.
Having regular cycles is key to being able to pinpoint ovulation.
It’s quite frustrating to try to pinpoint ovulation with irregular cycles. Get evaluated for why your cycle is irregular and make sure you’re not missing PCOS, a prolactin or thyroid disorder, hypothalamic amenorrhea or decreased ovarian reserve.
Remember these four things about fertility:
1. Fertility is influenced by genetics, lifestyle, environment, and anatomy.
2. Fertility levels can get checked: a combination of your age, FSH, estradiol, and AMH can tell you about your egg health. However, it’s important to remember that a single snapshot in time isn’t the whole story and checking these levels with the broader context of your health in mind is critical.
3. Using lubricants that aren’t sperm friendly can really stop things before they get started. Other factors like not timing intercourse right, relying on inaccurate apps without additional info from an opk to back it up, or not having sex right (yes inserting the penis at the top of the vagina) can impede your ability to conceive.
4. It takes more than just sex to have a baby. Open fallopian tubes, healthy sperm, and eggs are important too! You can get all these tests done as you’re preparing for pregnancy to learn more about what you should do. Start with understanding your fertility and you can easily and affordably do so with me here.
You CAN learn about your fertility. Stick to the diagnostic testing, and steps I recommend above to avoid fertility faux pas and get real answers about what’s going on inside of your body.