4 Ways to Use Cycle Tracking to Advocate for Yourself While Trying to Conceive
By Kristyn Hodgdon
There are many different paths that a fertility journey can take, and sometimes one of the biggest hurdles is figuring out the right next step for your particular situation. If you're not getting pregnant on the timeline you imagined, the reason usually isn't obvious right away, and investigating possible causes can take a lot of time and effort.
Your menstrual cycle can say a lot about your health, and when you understand your body and your cycle from the get-go, you're better able to ensure that you're receiving the appropriate and relevant care for your body.
Tracking your fertility at home can help you understand when in your cycle you ovulate, if you're not ovulating, how long your luteal phase is, and whether you're having sex at the right time, all of which is crucial information when you’re trying to conceive. Here are a few ways you can use cycle tracking to advocate for yourself on your family-building journey:
1. Learn what’s “normal” for you.
Menstrual cycles usually range from about 21-35 days, and what’s “normal” really depends on how you define “normal.” Keeping track of your cycle can help you determine what’s “normal” for you and also assist you in accurately predicting ovulation.
Ovulation typically occurs midway through your cycle, but since most women do not have 28-day cycles, that means you may ovulate on, before, or after cycle day 14 depending on your cycle length. If you assume you will always ovulate on cycle day 14, you could actually be mistiming intercourse and lowering your chances of conception.
One of the best at-home methods for collecting accurate data about your cycle is Ava Fertility. Ava Fertility is the first and only FDA-cleared fertility tracking bracelet. You wear it at night, and it tracks the 5 physiological signals that act as markers for your fluctuating hormone levels. This allows it to detect—not simply predict—which phase of the menstrual cycle you’re in, helping you to pinpoint your five best days to try for a baby as they're taking place.
2. Be aware of potential underlying health or fertility issues.
If you are experiencing irregular menstrual cycles–meaning that your cycle is shorter than 21 days, longer than 35 days, or it varies more than 7-9 days from one cycle to the next–it could be an indicator that you have an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
Irregular periods affect approximately 1 in 5 women, and common reasons include anovulation, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), thyroid imbalance, high prolactin levels, short luteal phase, Premature Ovarian Failure (POF), high BMI, low BMI, exercise, stress, stopping the pill, or early menopause.
If you suffer from heavy periods or abdominal pain, tracking your cycle can also help you determine whether any of these symptoms might be connected to your menstrual cycle. With Ava Fertility, you can download your own personalized PDF cycle report, designed to be shared with doctors so that you can get to the bottom of your irregular cycles or any other underlying health concerns.
3. Figure out whether or not you’re ovulating.
Many women assume that if their cycle is around 28-days they are ovulating, but that isn’t always the case. Dr. Jerilynn Prior, Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of British Columbia, authored an extensive study of over 3,100 healthy, regularly menstruating women between the ages of 20 and 49.9. The study found that only 63% of these women ovulated during the cycle that was tested, meaning that 37% did not ovulate and had what’s known as an anovulatory cycle.
Understanding your cycle, and whether or not you’re ovulating, will arm you with the information you need to go to your doctor ready to ask the right questions. You never know; the answers you receive might even help you diagnose any potential fertility issues earlier on than you would have otherwise.
When Ava user Kate reviewed her Ava data with her healthcare provider, they decided together that in her situation, it made sense to go straight to IVF, skipping over ovulation induction/IUI entirely. Knowledge is power when it comes to your fertility, and understanding your body and how it works is a great first step.
4. Know when you’re in your fertile window.
During each menstrual cycle, you have a six-day fertile window, which includes the five days before ovulation and the day of ovulation itself. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that nearly all pregnancies occurred within a six-day period which ends on the day of ovulation.
When you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s important to know when you ovulate. But for the best chance of conception, you really want to narrow in on those days prior to ovulation. These are your most fertile days—and the days that you want to be having sex.
While LH tests only predict one or two of your most fertile days, Ava Fertility identifies 5 out of your 6 most fertile days per cycle and delivers the results in real-time. What’s more, Ava’s Cycle Report provides an overview of your cycle length, luteal and follicular phase length, ovulation, and menstrual flow for the last 12 recorded cycles, which gives you a ton of data to discuss with your healthcare provider when the time comes to start trying or to seek the help of a fertility specialist.
Whether you’re currently trying to get pregnant or simply want to better understand your fertility, cycle tracking can be a powerful window into your overall health. Click here to learn more about Ava Fertility, and use the code RESCRIPTED to get $20 off!
Kristyn Hodgdon is the Co-Founder and Chief Community Officer at Rescripted.