Periods, fertility and menstrual cups – How does period cup helps
Five months after I turned 12, I got my period.Although I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, I now know it marked the beginning of my fertile years as a woman.
Each month after a woman reaches childbearing age, an egg is released from the ovaries into the fallopian tubes. From there, it’s available to be fertilized for a period of approximately 24 hours as it makes its way to the uterus.Whether or not your egg is fertilized, the body has already prepared the uterine lining for pregnancy.
If your egg isn’t fertilized, the body will expel this blood and tissue in what we commonly know as your period.But what exactly does your period have to do with fertility?After getting my period faithfully every month for over 16 years, I’ve dedicated the last two years to tracking my cycle in order to understand the hormone changes that cause menstruation and influence fertility throughout our cycles.
Leading Up to Ovulation: Your Follicular Phase
Your follicular phase constitutes the first day of your period to the day before ovulation.During this phase, your ovaries mature a set of eggs and then release the strongest and healthiest egg to be fertilized.While on your period, you’re generally infertile. Your body is busy preparing the egg to be released into the fallopian tubes and the egg is not yet available to be fertilized by sperm.However, as your period ends and ovulation day gets closer, your chances of getting pregnant increase. Generally on Day 10 of my cycle, I notice my cervical fluid shifts and becomes more fertile, so my partner and I always avoid intercourse during this time.
Wait—What Is Cervical Fluid?
Cervical fluid—also called cervical mucus—is the fluid produced by the cervix that influences fertility.
Depending on where you’re at in your cycle, cervical fluid can either nourish and protect sperm to help them get to your egg or cause sperm to die in a matter of minutes.
By checking your fluid daily, you can observe when you’re most fertile.For instance, as my follicular phase progresses, my cervical fluid changes from sticky to creamy to stretchy with an egg white consistently.
When your fluid stretches without breaking, you’re at your most fertile and this is your optimal time to get pregnant should you choose.Your cervix also changes during this time—you may notice it’s firmer and closed during infertile days while it becomes softer and more open to allow sperm in as your cycle progresses.
From Ovulation to Menstruation: Your Luteal Phase
How do you know ovulation has happened?For me, my cervical fluid shifts very close to ovulation, so the day or two after ovulation, my fluid will revert back to creamy. I also take my temperature every morning with a thermometer (this temperature is also called your basal body temperature, or, the lowest body temperature you have during the day).The day after ovulation, my temperature spikes. The jump in temperature is usually obvious and this fact combined with the change in cervical fluid signals that ovulation has occurred.
Unfortunately, we can only know ovulation has happened after the fact—if you’re trying to get pregnant, having intercourse during your most fertile days based on your fluid can increase chances of pregnancy rather than having intercourse after ovulation has taken place.
Approximately fourteen days after ovulation—this number will vary from woman to woman—your period will begin. For me, my luteal phase generally only lasts 12 or 13 days, with some months being only 10 and other months being 14.So What’s Normal?For the majority of women, their period will last anywhere from three to seven days.
Every body is different and so the number will fluctuate; for me, my periods almost always last seven or eight days.The total number of days in a cycle will vary as well. My cycles are typically 28-30 days, but some women may have cycles as short as 21 days or as long as 35. If your period has not arrived after 35 days since your last period and you’ve had intercourse that month, it’s possible you could be pregnant.
Ovulation times will vary for women as well. After two years of tracking my cycle, I’ve ovulated as early as Day 12 and as late as Day 19. The average for most women is around Day 14, so this will be approximately two weeks from the start date of your period.However, every woman is different and instead of relying on this number, you should instead rely on signs from your body telling you that you’re fertile.It’s also normal for women to experience some discomfort during their period, but severe pain isn’t normal and is usually a sign that something else is going on.
I struggled with dysmenorrhea for years before finally resolving my intense period pain with the help of a professional herbalist and some effective natural remedies.How Using a Menstrual Cup Can HelpDid you know that using a menstrual cup can help you better monitor your cycle? Because conventional tampons absorb your natural cervical fluid as well as your menstrual blood, using a cup can help you better track your cycle to determine when your period is ending and your fertile days begin.
By using a period cup,
you can also get more familiar with your anatomy such as your cervix, which you’ll need to find to properly place the menstrual cup. Your cervix can be an indicator of fertility similarly to your fluid.As someone who started tracking their cycle a few years after using the period cup, I can’t imagine not understanding my cycle the way I do now, especially when it comes to fertility. Consider getting more familiar with your cycle to better understand your body and your fertility!