Your most fertile days are BEFORE you ovulate
Updated: Oct 7
A few months ago one of my husband’s guy friends was talking to me about what I do for work and said, “I heard that a girl’s most fertile days are right before her period starts and that she can’t get pregnant after her period.”
Then I read the journal that my mom kept when she was 22 and pregnant with me, her first child. In it she wrote that she knew exactly when she conceived me. That she was certain which night it was and everything. Then she went on to write that she knew it was that night because just a few days later her period was supposed to arrive and it didn’t.
Friends, this is not how our cycles work.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking my husband’s friend for wanting to know more about the menstrual cycle. And, I’m not knocking my young mom for wanting and trying to decipher how her cycle worked either. I love this.
What I am knocking is the fact that we’re not taught in school or the doctor’s office the most basic facts about our bodies, the menstrual cycle, and how the heck getting pregnant actually works.
Let’s get something clear here…
You, and every menstruating person in the world, are the most fertile right BEFORE you ovulate.
You get pregnant from unprotected sex that occurs within 4 to 5 days of ovulation. That’s it. No earlier. No later. That’s the deal. That’s how it works. That’s biology.
If you miss your period because you’re pregnant, well you’ve been pregnant for several weeks already. By the time you miss your period, you’re at least 10 to 16 days pregnant. So, no, sex 4 days before your missed period did not get you pregnant. That’s not how biology works.
When you’re trying to avoid pregnancy, it is crucial that we avoid unprotected sex BEFORE we’ve even ovulated in each cycle. The tricky part? You won’t know when ovulation is until AFTER it’s already happened, so you need to be good at identifying the signs of impending (aka upcoming) ovulation.
And, that’s what cervical fluid is all about.
Cervical fluid production is your way of knowing that you’re going to ovulate before it happens. It’s how you know that you are in the most fertile days of your cycle.
One of the main things I do as a fertility awareness educator is teach women how to read and track their daily cervical fluid signs to know whether they are having a fertile, less fertile, or infertile day of their cycle. Then we use this information to avoid or achieve pregnancy depending on our personal goals.
If you’re cycle tracking, but you’re not tracking cervical fluid… you don’t have an accurate birth control method. You also won’t know when to start trying to conceive if you do want to get pregnant.
Temperature doesn’t tell us when we’re going to ovulate. It doesn’t identify our fertile days. I don’t care what your app says, it just doesn’t. Temperature is progesterone dependent. We only make progesterone AFTER we ovulate. Therefore, temperature only tells us about what’s going on after we ovulate. It is a confirmation tool to tell us “yep, we have indeed ovulated in this cycle and are now entering into our infertile phase.”
Please, PLEASE, track cervical fluid if you intend to use cycle tracking as natural birth control or for pregnancy achievement.
In fact, for the first 5 years of using fertility awareness as natural birth control I ONLY tracked cervical fluid. I didn’t track temperature at all. I didn’t use LH (ovulation) strips. I didn’t use an app. Cervical fluid only. It’s that important.
By now you might be wondering, “Brandy, why do all the tv shows and movies show people frantically like ‘I’m ovulating tonight! We have to have sex NOW!.’”
ONE - Because TV and movie script writers, like most people, aren’t fertility awareness educators so they don’t know how menstrual cycles and getting pregnant really works. They probably think this is how it works because that’s what most people were raised believing.
TWO - Because if a woman is only trying to find ovulation using ovulation strips (aka LH strips) there may literally be just a day or two when you get a clear LH rise in each cycle. LH, or luteinizing hormone, is the hormone that spikes right before we ovulate to trigger ovulation. It’s a very brief spike. So folks will see that hormone spike and think “OMG we have to try NOW!” When really they could have been trying for several days because we are in our window for a few days even before our LH rise is apparent.
THREE - Because if a woman is tracking using temperature only she might mistakenly think that the day of temperature rise in her cycle is signaling that she is ovulating that day. That’s not how it works. By the time temperature as risen, we have already ovulated. If we wait until we’ve already ovulated, it will be very difficult - if not impossible - to conceive because the egg only lives for 12 to 24 hours after ovulation.
So, what can you do to accurately identify your fertile days in each cycle whether you're trying to avoid or achieve pregnancy?
Learn how to accurately track your cervical fluid.
That’s where a fertility awareness educator comes in.
Everyone’s cervical fluid patterns are a little different. Yours most likely will not look like mine. They also may not look like the photos in that book you bought that is the size of a textbook.
If you’re looking for textbook cervical fluid transitions, you’ll likely miss out on your own personal fertility patterns.
As a fertility awareness educator, I am trained in recognizing many (read: MANY!) different cervical fluid patterns and transitions - post-birth control, post-partum, never been on birth control, PCOS cycles, and more.
I worked with a fertility awareness educator to learn how to read my personal cervical fluid patterns when I first started using fertility awareness as natural birth control 10 years ago and it was the best decision I ever made.
Working with my teacher allowed me to feel confident in reading the signs of my own body and not getting confused when my cycle signs didn’t look like what I saw in the books or online.
Knowing how to accurately read your cervical fluid patterns is crucial to using fertility awareness as natural birth control effectively. It’s also crucial to conceiving and making sure that you’re trying on the correct days each cycle.
Are you ready to get started tracking your cervical fluid? Or perhaps, are you ready to stop using that app, book, or blog and get real-life, expert-level support for tracking your cervical fluid to make sure that you’re actually doing it correctly?
If so, I’m your girl. This is literally my specialty. And, I’m excited to meet you!
I want to invite you to scoop up one of my limited *free* consult call spots so we can get you the support that you deserve. These calls are usually $250/hour, but I’m gifting all you blog readers this one for *free*! Yes please! The calls are limited and first come, first serve… so don’t sleep on it. You can scoop up a *free* call here.
Disclaimer: Brandy Oswald, Sauvage Wellness LLC, and her employees are not doctors, nurses, physicians, psychotherapists, or in anyway licensed medical practitioners and information presented here is to serve as an educational resource and not to be interpreted as: (1) medical advice; (2) a 100% effective birth control or pregnancy achievement options or (3) nutrition or health guidelines. By reading this you acknowledge that you understand that as a specialized form of consulting, fertility awareness education is not the same as professional or licensed therapy or medical advice and intervention; and recognize that it is your responsibility to seek such services from a licensed professional. Brandy Oswald is not a medical provider and cannot give medical advice. All information provided by Sauvage Wellness LLC and Brandy Oswald is of a general nature and is intended only for educational purposes to help with your personal health improvement goals and should not be relied on as medical advice. Always consult a physician with any health concerns and prior to changing your diet, lifestyle, supplements, birth control, fitness, or prescription medicine routine. Should you choose to use the information provided by Brandy Oswald it is of your own volition and you recognize that neither Brandy nor Sauvage Wellness LLC is not held liable for any intended or unintended outcomes.
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