Get to know your fertility signs

Jul 3, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. ET

You can get pregnant just by having unprotected sex, right? Sometimes, yes! Other times, it’s not so easy. These little clues will help boost your chances every month as you try to conceive.

Woman happy about pregnancy test

Every month, you ovulate, so you have a chance to become pregnant. At least, it should be that easy. For many couples who have spent time avoiding pregnancy, it can be distressing to discover that removing the birth control doesn’t result in a baby on the way right away.

While random intercourse is often enough to put a bun in your oven, there are signs that at some points in your cycle you are more fertile than others. In other words, these signs will let you know when it’s time to get busy!

Watch the calendar

The textbook menstrual cycle is 28 days, with the first day being the day your period starts. Many, if not most, women have regular periods, and if you do, you generally ovulate on (or around) day 14. If your cycle is shorter or longer than 28 days, you likely won’t ovulate on that day, which can make guessing when to time intercourse a mystery. Generally you can subtract 14 to 16 days from when your period starts to find out when you’re typically fertile — this means, if you have a 35-day cycle, you may be more fertile around day 21 than you are on day 14.

Check your fluid

No, you aren’t checking your oil — your cervical fluid, however, holds valuable information in its makeup and consistency. Often you don’t have to do anything other than observe your toilet paper after a restroom break. As you approach ovulation, your cervical fluid will become super slippery, almost like someone cracked an egg on your TP. This consistency allows sperm to travel quickly and freely through your cervix and into your uterus to make its journey down your fallopian tubes to wait for the ultimate prize — your egg.

Monitor that cervix

This involves some hands-on checking, but if you really want to get in tune with your body, you can check your cervix with clean hands to determine its firmness and relative position. As you approach ovulation, your cervix will soften and rise up, and after ovulation, it becomes more firm and settles back down into its starting position.

Keep track

If you want to, try charting your basal body temperature for some really cool insight into how your body’s temp rises after ovulation, but even if you don’t check your temp, keeping track of your cervical fluid and position on a calendar (real or virtual) can really give you a heads-up as to your body’s rhythms. It can also help you discover if you might need some intervention, such as no detectible ovulation despite many months of charting your temps.

The most valuable clue is your cervical fluid — get a handle on that, and you may be bringing home a new family member soon.

More on trying to conceive

Sex positions for conceiving a girl
Keeping baby-making sex fun
The preconception diet: Eating right before pregnancy