If you’re TTC, but struggling to get (or stay) pregnant, the first place to look for answers is your cycle.
If it’s irregular, that can give you a lot of information about what may be throwing your hormones off balance, making your period go AWOL and blocking your fertility.
Your cycle is essentially a vital sign* – a barometer of your health.
If your cycle is off, it can provide so much intel about what’s up down there – like if you’re ovulating and when, or if there’s a hormone imbalance at play. For instance,
- Is excess estrogen to blame for painful cramping, heavy bleeding, and lack of ovulation?
- Is low progesterone causing days of spotting before your period and increased risk of miscarriage?
- Do you have an infection causing bad-smelling cervical fluid and blocking implantation?
Before you can get answers, you need to know what “normal” looks like…
So, what is “normal”?
Note there is large variability within “normal”.
The most powerful part about tracking your periods is getting familiar with what’s normal for you – so you can quickly identify when something’s off.
(If you want more guidance on how to track your periods and menstrual cycles, I provide step by step guidance in the FERTILITY ROADMAP; YOUR STEP BY STEP PATH TO PARENTHOOD that I made for you).
Ok, now here’s what’s considered a “regular” cycle:
- Total cycle length: 21-35 days. (However, in my practice, I find that 25-35 days is actually optimal for hormone health and fertility.)
- Day 1 of your cycle is your first day of real menstrual bleeding – not just spotting.
- Follicular phase: 7-21 days.
- Follicular phase is the first part of your cycle, menstruation to ovulation.
- Follicles are maturing and producing estrogen.
- Ovulation occurs for only 12-24 hours.
- To get pregnant you want to have sex for the 5 days leading up to ovulation and the day of.
- Luteal phase: 10-16 days
- Luteal phase is after ovulation to day 1 of next cycle.
- The follicle releases an egg into your fallopian tube, then becomes the corpus luteum that now produces progesterone.
- Color: light pink to bright red to dark brown.
- Amount: 25 – 80 mL (a regular tampon holds 5 mL (1 tsp), a super 10 mL (2 tsp); most menstrual cups hold 25 mL – 30 mL (5-6 tsp).
- A few blood clots, smaller than the size of a quarter are normal.
- Flow for 3-7 days and 1-3 days of spotting on either end is normal.
- If you’re repeatedly soaking through a super tampon in less than 2 hours and/or seeing blood clots larger than quarters – that’s “heavy” bleeding 🚩. Do you have excess estrogen?
BASAL BODY TEMPERATURE:
Basal body temperature (BBT) is your resting temperature. To get an accurate reading, take your temperature the second you wake up, before your feet hit the floor. You can use a digital BBT thermometer* one that measures to the 1/100th degree, or a wearable device like a TempDrop* or Ava Bracelet. When taking your temperature look for these readings:
- ~97.2 – 97.8°F in the follicular phase
- >98°F in the luteal phase
- This ~0.5° increase in body temp for at least 3 days, indicates that you did ovulate.
- Mild cramping before and during your period can be “normal”.
- Mild cramping, and spotting, during ovulation are also considered normal.
- Pain is NOT normal if it’s so severe that you vomit, can’t participate in your life, or can’t get relief with Ibuprofen.
- Cervical mucus (aka fluid) shows up in the follicular phase. It can be creamy, slippery, or wet, and white or clear.
- Peak cervical fluid is typically clear & stretchy or slippery, like egg whites, indicating your approaching ovulation.
- Quantity can ebb & flow if you have a longer follicular phase – your body gears up for ovulation, but then stalls due to stress, sickness, not enough nutrition, etc.
- You can have so much that it makes itself known on your panties, or you may have to dig around for it. Have fun 😉
- It should dry up after ovulation.
Did your doctor tell you everything is “normal”, but your cycles are irregular?
If you’re struggling to get (or stay) pregnant, even if your dr told you everything is “normal”, your cycle may be sending clues to the contrary.
On average it takes women 2+ years to get a PCOS diagnosis (when not on the pill) and 10 years to get an endometriosis diagnosis! Don’t let that happen to you!
Track the variables 👆 in an app and use them to advocate for yourself.
If you want help figuring out where to start, or what it all means, that’s what I’m here for 🙋🏻♀️.
I offer advanced testing beyond what you get in conventional care to provide answers about the root cause of your hormonal imbalances, and ultimately, take the guesswork out of getting pregnant.
If interested, let’s chat! To get started, apply for a free fertility strategy session.
Rooting for you 💛,
*This is an affiliate link, meaning you get a discounted price and I receive a very small % of each purchase. Know that I only recommend what I 100% believe to be the best for your fertility and I am so grateful for your support, helping me to provide this information for free to you.