How to tell if you're fertile? 9 things to check out
Have you ever asked your partner the question, how do we know if we're fertile? How do I know if I'm fertile?
Then this is the article for you, because I'm going to cover the nine areas that you need to check out and check off to find out if your fertility is in tip top shape.
I'm Dr. Amanda Miller, fertility expert, and I worked with couples from all over the world, helping you get pregnant naturally.
So you've been sitting down and you've been talking to your partner. You're thinking about having children or you've already started trying and you're a few months down the road and now you start to ask yourself this question, how do we know if we are fertile?
Where do we start? Where do we go from here? How do we know that everything's working right so that we can have a baby in a family that we've dreamed of?
Well, this is a question that so many couples ask each other and reach out to me and ask the same question. How do we know if your fertile and where do we go from here?
Let me help you break that down and starts to figure out where you go and how to know if you are fertile.
1. Your menstrual cycle
So the first area, the first category that we need to check off and review is your menstrual cycle.
That's right. Are you having, first and foremost a menstrual cycle? Is it regular or is it irregular? This is a big question that we're going to ask for that you're going to ask yourself so that you know how to move forward.
We want your cycles to be consistent and to be regular. So if you've answered this question and said that, no, my cycles are irregular, meaning they do not come consistently at the same time, then this is an area of concern, an area that needs to be evaluated and looked at.
So let's break down what a menstrual cycle should look like. It's called the menstrual cycle for a reason, which means it starts off with menstruation.
You're going to start bleeding. Day one of your cycle is considered the first day of a full bleed. And this is something that often gets mixed up. When I ask all of you to fill out my forms. And one of the questions I ask is how long is your menstrual cycle? I often get the answer of three days or five days.
A menstrual cycle or a full cycle is from day one to day one. So the first day I want to bleed to the next first day of bleeding, that's a menstrual cycle. If I were to ask you, how many days do you bleed for or how long or how long is your menstruation, then we're looking for how many days do you actually bleed? Three days, one day, five days, whatever that might be.
So the first thing we want to know is how long is your menstruation? Hopefully it's about three to five days. Then you've got your follicular phase. So your cycle is theoretically twenty eight days. And the first part of that is called the follicular phase. This is the pre ovulation phase of your cycle.
Then we've got a ovulation phase, which is a short window. It's not as long as all the others because you really should be ovulating on a specific day. And so maybe we expand that window just to cover a couple of days to give you that window a little bit longer.
And then we've got the luteal phase, which is the post ovulation phase, which should last about 14 days. And then if you're not pregnant, you bleed.
So this is a regular menstrual cycle. It should be about twenty eight days long if it fluctuates just a little bit. Twenty six. Twenty seven. Twenty eight. Twenty nine. Thirty days. That's OK. But we don't want to see is a full a big shift in a regularity of your cycle if we want to see that be consistent throughout. And so we know that it's dependable and reliable.
If it's moving in one cycle, it's twenty five days. The next cycle is thirty five days or forty five days. Then there's something for us to look at hormonally with your cycles.
So step one is what does your cycle look like? Is it regular or irregular? Part of evaluating your cycles is understanding how to track your cycles. So if you don't track your cycles right now, my recommendation is that you begin to track your cycles and the more information you can gather and track and see from cycle to cycle, the better off it is.
The caveat here is that I don't want it to be stressful. I don't want it to bog you down. So you've got to find the way that makes sense for you to track and know what your cycles are doing. And when you're ovulating, the options you have are the low tech option, which is body temperature charting, which is just a thermometer.
And you track that in the beginning of your cycle. It's actually one of my favorite ways to track. It's cheap. It's inoffensive, it’s relatively easy to do and often gives us such wonderful information if it's done right and it doesn't cause you a lot of stress.
The other thing, when it comes to ovulation that's really important for you to recognize is that ovulation may not happen on the same day every cycle.
And that's OK. It might shift a little bit by a day or two.
So I like for all of you to actually create a fertile window of time that you're just going to have intercourse regularly so that you take that burden off and you make it a little bit easier for yourself and hopefully a little bit more spontaneous.
And you guys can have a little bit more fun with intercourse versus making it more stressful.
My favorite ways to know if you're ovulating are BBT charting or popular apps, but also looking at physical symptoms. Are you having your cervical mucus in? Is your cervical mucus egg white, several mucus sticky, stretchy, clear, abundant. It makes it easier to have intercourse and more enjoyable. So that's something that happens. Your body will increase that mucus as you are ovulating or getting close to ovulation. So that's a sign libido. Your libido should increase as you start to get towards ovulation. Your body knows that you want to have intercourse because it's trying to have a baby so you have more desire for it again, using some of those monitors.
But other physical symptoms like are you feeling any twinges? Can you tell which side you're ovulating from? Do you have any low back pain? These are all things that your body can tell you that you can be mindful of and aware of to know if you're ovulating and how to create your fertile window once you know where your ovulation usually runs. If it's always around 14 or 13 or 15 or, you know, it's in that two to three day span, then you can start to expand and create a fertile window.
2. Important hormones to get pregnant naturally
So area number two that you need to check off after you've evaluated your cycles and you know what's going on: There are your hormones. We have to evaluate your hormones!
Hormones are an essential piece of understanding how fertile you are and if there are some steps or treatments that you need to take to improve those hormones. So there are some key hormones now. There's a lot more than this, but I'm going to pair it down to just the key essentials that we want to look at to evaluate how fertile your body is.
The first one is MSH follicle stimulating hormone. This is the hormone that helps your ovaries mature those eggs or those follicles, and it actually increases as we get closer to ovulation.
The other hormone that pairs with it is LH Lutein. This is the hormone that spikes or peaks as we get to ovulation because it helps the ovaries release the egg at ovulation.
It's paired with age because they communicate with one another and we'd like to see those numbers be similar to one another close together.
There's also Estradiol E2, which is one of the three estrogens. And this is important because it tells us that your body is producing a proper amount of estrogen at the right times of the cycles.
So these three hormones you want to have tested on day two, three or four of your menstrual cycle, and they should relatively be lower at that time, respectively, because they all have different ranges and they will increase and fluctuate throughout the cycle.
Another hormone that I do like to test is progesterone. This progesterone levels should be low in the beginning of the cycle. So if you test it around two or three or four, it should be very low. It will peak after ovulation, seven days post ovulation.
So you want to test this hormone away from the others after your ovulation. So those are the four key ones.
And then the last one is AMH, Antimalaria and Hormone. MSH will tell us a little bit more about your egg quality and AMH will tell us a lot more about your ovarian reserve, your egg reserve, how many eggs you have left. And so I do also like to test this hormone in the beginning of your cycle with the other three on day two, three or four, so that we can understand where your hormones are at the beginning of your cycle and what your ovaries are doing and what your body is telling you.
So this goes back to that bigger question of how fertile are you? Your cycles tell you one aspect of that and then the hormones that your body is producing tell you another piece of that, how good your eggs are and how many eggs you have left.
3. Is your uterus fertile?
Area number three is your uterus. How healthy is your uterus? Have you had your uterus evaluated? Does it look normal in shape? Are there any abnormalities in the uterus? Do you have any fibroid polyps? Is the thickness of the endometrium healthy?
These are all things that can be evaluated by your ob/gyn to get a better understanding for the health of your reproductive organs and in this case, specifically, your uterus.
This is often left until much later to evaluate and depending on your age, your circumstances and how long you've been trying. You may want to look at this a little bit sooner. I'm always one to be proactive and look at things a little bit sooner than maybe others might want to do. But I always just want to check it off, make sure everything looks good, and then move on to the next area while you're there evaluating your tubes.
4. Your fallopian tubes
Then we move on to the next area, which is area number four. And this is the fallopian tubes. If we're already there looking at your uterus, we might as well also evaluate the fallopian tubes. This is a really important piece often put off by couples because they would rather not have the procedure done because it's not the most comfortable. Well, a the best way to evaluate your fallopian tubes is to do a procedure called an HEG.
This is also known as the dye test where they're looking to see that the fallopian tubes are open, not spasming and everything is ready to receive an egg and allow the egg and sperm to meet in the fallopian tube, which is where that happens.
So this is the fourth area that needs to be evaluated, checked off and made sure it looks AOK.
5. Sperm quality to conceive
Area number five has to do with the men. This is having an analysis done evaluating sperm health. This is often ignored. Put off till later.
It's fifty percent of the equation and this does need to be done sooner rather than later. So in this case, if you have not had your partner or if you're the one watching and you have not had your sperm tested, now is the time we need to do a semen analysis to understand how many sperm you're producing, how much volume you have, how well they swim and how good do they look.
So in some ways, it is a beauty contest, but we want to find out all that information so that we can provide the right treatment to change those results because it is possible to change those and improve those and yield the results that we're looking for. And any time we're talking about how fertile are we, we can never ignore the male side, the sperm side of things.
6. Genetics are key to understand if you can get pregnant easy
So area number six is genetics. Are there any family history of any reproductive issues? Did any of your parents go through any fertility issues, miscarriages, difficulty conceiving? We want to find out that information because it might affect you.
Are there other genetic issues that anyone in the family has had that potentially could have been passed down to you?
And once you've checked off all those boxes, maybe you want to run some more bloodwork to evaluate your genetics, just like everything else genetics can be.
Don't ignore the genetic piece of this puzzle.
7. Ideal BMI to have a baby
So number seven is, are you two overweight or you do not have enough weight? This is an important piece and most of this is dictated by BMI. What's your BMI? Is your BMI too high, whereas your BMI too low? Both of those variables can impact your fertility and make it more challenging and more difficult to conceive both for you and your partner.
So we want to make sure everybody's healthy, weight is good and inline and that comes down to BMI. So get your BMI checked. This is a simple equation. You can just look up online, plug in your height, your weight, and it will give you that number and then you'll know where you are and where you range, where where your range is. And if you need to spend some time either increasing or decreasing your weight, weight absolutely impacts fertility and could impact yours.
8. Perfect lifestyle when you try to conceive
Number eight, lifestyle. This is a big category, but an important category. Lifestyle can mean a lot of different things. So it can mean stress.
Are you managing your stress levels properly? We can never get rid of them. But what are you doing to manage them? Sleep, exercise. These are all things are one hundred percent in your control and you need to become better at right. Or keep doing all the good things that you're doing to make sure that all of these ducks in a row, so to speak.
How fertile are you can be impacted by your lifestyle, your stress, your sleep, your lack of exercise or too much exercise. These are all variables that you need to take into account.
9. What diet to get pregnant?
And then last but not least, your diet. This could be the most important thing that you do and have control over is your diet.
I talk about this all the time, but basically we're going to lump this into two different categories. Is your diet junky or is your diet clean? Those are the two categories.
I think all of us can take a step back and objectively look at our diets and decide what areas of it need improvement and what areas are doing just fine. If you're having a hard time with that, just do a simple diet journal for a week, write everything you eat and drink down and then objectively look at it. Maybe you and your partner do this separately and you guys evaluate it together.
And you're going to look at this and you say, well, what can we do to improve our health? Maybe we're not getting enough vegetables, maybe we're not getting enough healthy fat, whatever it might be. Maybe there's too much sugar or too much junk.
These are areas that you absolutely have in your control and need to be improved.
If you want more information to learn more on how you can improve your your fertility, then you can check out our guide to get pregnant fast.