Understanding your menstrual cycle
Especially in their younger years, women and couples are often very concerned with preventing an unwanted pregnancy. But when it comes to the desire to have children in later years, they often experience that it is not so easy to realize this wish.
Understanding your menstrual cycle
The first step: getting to know your own cycle
Not every woman has a perfect 28-day cycle: in reality, it usually varies between 21 and 35 days. But larger fluctuations are not uncommon either: Studies have shown that 46% of all women have cycle fluctuations of more than 7 days; 20% of all women even have fluctuations of more than 14 days . If you have cycle fluctuations that go beyond the 21- or 35-day limit, it is advisable to consult a gynaecologist in the context of wanting a child.
Because: There are only a few days per month where you can get pregnant. The time window for fertilisation of the egg is 12 to 18 hours after ovulation. So if you want to have a baby, it’s worth recording your own cycle and getting to know it better. In addition to the possibility of entering the data in a period calendar, there are also various apps that make this possible.
But even if you determine your fertile days correctly, you are healthy and have sex at the optimal time: The average chance of pregnancy per menstrual cycle is only 25% .
In addition, various studies have shown that half of all couples who want to have children do not know the time frame of the most fertile days, which further reduces this chance .
Ovulation, also called ovulation, occurs about 12 to 16 days before menstruation in most women. The period between ovulation and menstruation is fairly constant for most women. Fluctuations in the cycle are usually due to delayed or accelerated ovulation, which can often have psychological causes: Stress at work or in everyday life, long-distance travel with time changes, or strong emotional fluctuations. Ultimately, the better you know your cycle and learn to perceive your body signals, the more influence you can have on your fertility.
Determining fertile days
A popular method of determining a woman’s fertile period is the so-called temperature measurement method. The woman measures her body temperature with a thermometer and records it. This produces a so-called basal curve, which can indicate the ideal time for conception. This time is exactly before the rise in basal body temperature. In the beginning, this method may require one or two practice cycles in order to become familiar with the handling and interpretation of the values.
You can also determine your fertile time with the help of ovulation tests, which are now available in drugstores, pharmacies and online. They measure the increase in luteinising hormone (LH) in your urine using a test stick, similar to a pregnancy test. As this hormone change occurs between 24 and 36 hours before ovulation, a rising LH level shows you that your fertile days are approaching.
A third method is to observe the cervical mucus and palpate the cervix. The cervical mucus is a secretion that is produced by glands in the cervix and changes in consistency during the cycle. This means that conclusions can be drawn about the respective phase of the cycle from its changes. For example, shortly before ovulation it is more glassy, transparent and thin. This helps the sperm to reach the uterus more quickly and easily.
It’s not unusual for couples to take up to a year
But getting pregnant is not that easy. A study shows that in Germany, of all women who know their cycle and want to get pregnant, only about half get pregnant during the first 3 months. After 6 months, about 65% of couples have succeeded, and after a year, about 80%. For couples who try for 2 years, the rate rises to 89% .
The likelihood of pregnancy also depends to a large extent on the age of the woman. In general, younger women get pregnant faster than older women because hormone production and egg reserve decrease with age. So depending on your age, it can be perfectly normal for conception to take up to a year. However, if you have been trying unsuccessfully for more than a year, it is advisable to seek medical help.
Social freezing: success rates
What is the ideal age to freeze my eggs? This is an often asked question in the context of social freezing. A simplified answer would be that it is generally better to freeze at a younger age than at a later age. However, it is not quite that simple.
At Fertilly, we have made it our mission to accompany couples (homosexual and heterosexual) and singles on the way to fulfilling their child wish. In doing so, it is important to us to create transparency in the area of fertility services, to provide information and knowledge on the topics of pregnancy and fertility and to help you to find the most suitable Fertility Center. Through cooperation with first-class Fertility Centres and clinics in Europe, enquiries about Fertilly are given preferential treatment. This means that our patients avoid the usually long waiting times and get appointments more quickly.
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2. Colombo & Masarotto. Daily Fecundability: First Results from a New Data Base. Demographic Research (2000)
3. Johnson SR., et al. Human Reproduction (2011) 26: i236.
4. Juul, Karmaus & Olsen. Regional differences in waiting time to pregnancy: pregnancy-based surveys from Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden. Human Reproduction (1999), 14: 1250–1254