Here we go! There are so many variations to what a ‘normal’ cycle should look like, but for the purpose of clarity – I’m going to talk about how your ovulation calendar should look, in theory. We can discuss variations down the track.
Here’s something I don’t want you to do. Don’t get all hoity-toity on me, and start to obsess about ovulation. It isn’t useful – it adds stress to the already stressful fertility game, and keeps your mind constantly thinking about it. But, it can be useful as a diagnostic tool, to see how things are going hormonally, and for you to have some peace of mind that you are indeed ovulating. So, let’s hop to it.
Ovulation calendar – how a typical month should look
This is how a typical month should look. I want to explain the chart below thoroughly, so I’m going to break it down to simple town. Remember, this is all a rough guide time-wise.
All women will vary – and that is perfectly normal.
Ok, so it’s fairly standard for your period to last anywhere from 2-7 days.
In the clinic, I like to see a period be no longer than 5 days and we implement measures to ensure this is achieved. It’s also important that blood loss isn’t too significant. It should be no more than 6 tablespoons – not that I want you to measure! But it’s a good guide (however, it can be difficult to tell with the standard of sanitary products nowadays).
If you experience a 1-day bleed that is quite dry and dark without proper flow, there is a chance you aren’t ovulating and it’s a good idea to speak to a natural fertility specialist.
Now, from this point on is where the fun starts. To put this into practice, you will need to learn to feel what your body is telling you.
Noticing your body’s signs
As grey as it sounds, you can actually ‘feel’ ovulation via your cervical mucus. You know when you get your period? It feels a certain way ‘down there’, (generally, it feels wet and warm around the opening of the vagina). Ovulation is mostly the same, although it feels wet and cold.
It’s not necessarily about what you can physically see in terms of cervical mucus, it is more about what you can feel.
Typically you should have several ‘dry’ days before they start to notice a small amount of mucus (days 6-9), followed by the feeling of moistness (days 10-12). This can last for several days until you begin to feel signs of optimal fertility – clear and stretchy cervical mucus (remember it feels wet and cold).
Cervical mucus is essential for conception. It is the sperm’s mode of transport up to the eagerly waiting egg. The cervix secretes this vital fertile mucus. When the semen is ejaculated into the vagina, the sperm will make it’s way up to the cervical crypts (where the mucus is secreted from) where it stays for a bit, and takes a little rest to be fed and rejuvenated (I find it hilarious that it’s already hungry!), before it continues on up to meet the egg.
If you take a look at fertile cervical mucus under a microscope, it has many little channels – unlike infertile mucus which has a criss-cross pattern that makes it impossible for the sperm to swim through.
Fertile mucus can last for several days. Ovulation isn’t the day you see the most fertile signs – it’s the LAST day that you see or feel it.
So in this instance, it’s cycle day 15 (even though there has been fertile mucus present for 3 days) because it’s the final day that this wet feeling is experienced. The tricky part is it isn’t something you will know until after the event. But don’t think you can’t fall pregnant outside this time. It happens! You might like to read about that more here.
Now from cycle day 16 right through to 28, you’ll notice there is very little or no mucus. This is normal. During this time (it’s called the Luteal Phase) your body is busy either implanting an embryo or preparing for your period.
Should you notice mucus or discharge at this time, it may be indicative of excess ‘damp’ in your body, which may or may not be affecting your fertility – it wouldn’t hurt to get that checked out.
What is damp? It’s what Chinese medicine refers to when there is an accumulation in your body as a result of some organs not working as well as they should. It can be easily fixed. Think of it like damp that can sit under a house.
What to do when your cycle doesn’t seem quite right
If your cycles are a bit out of whack – say ovulation is occurring earlier or later – it’s a good idea to have this checked out by somebody like me, because hormonally you may be lacking. And, the consequence of that can be ‘subfertility’.
This means that you’re potentially fertile, but hormonally you’re imbalanced. For example, ovulating on cycle day 9 is a problem because it means an immature follicle is being released – making it almost impossible to be fertilised. Or, your luteal phase (from ovulation to the period time) could be too short, meaning that if there is a growing embryo, it can’t continue to grow because it isn’t being supplied hormonally with all it requires.
In almost all cases, we can treat this and begin to improve fertility. We have a swag of tricks that can be applied in these circumstances.
Want to dive deeper into understanding your cycle?
I hope this has been informative and you have a better understanding of ovulation. Remember, we can fall pregnant outside these times in some circumstances – but being able to read your body is a great start.
You can dive deeper into this stuff with my Debunking Ovulation Masterclass, which gives you more detailed and specific information to allow you to understand your own menstrual cycle. This can be particularly helpful if you’ve recently come off the pill and you’re trying to work out what’s going on.
*Please note. I’d love to offer advice and be able to answer your questions below regarding ovulation and pregnancy. Unfortunately, without having seen you, it’s impossible for me to give thorough replies.