So, You Think You’re Fertile
Fertility is a word mainly used by those actively trying to create a person. But if you you are a female of child-bearing age or a sexually active male, then fertility should be on your radar. You need to get comfortable with things like cervical position and fluid, hormones, and even menstruation. Unfortunately, most people are not. Women have been led to believe that they need to be medicated, daily, in order to not get pregnant. We have been conditioned to believe that altering our hormonal levels every single day through a pill or implanted device is perfectly normal and in no way concerning. Women are fertile for about 24-72 hours: yes, just 1-3 days. Men, barring health issues, are fertile every single day. Not only does it not make sense to medicate yourself daily when you’re not fertile (and not sick), the birth control pill is putting you at risk for cancer, decreased bone mineral density, and more (1,2, 3).
I encourage all of my patients to get to know their body better. Increased body awareness isn’t just about musculoskeletal health, though. Get to know your insides. Do you know what your cervix feels like? (Face check: Did you just cringe?) Ladies, your body is amazing – get to know it! You know your male partner is intimately familiar with his reproductive organs. Kudos to him; you should be, too! Wash your hands and go spend some solo time investigating your cervix. Is it low, high, soft, firm? And what does that mean in terms of your fertility?
Around the time of ovulation, the cervix softens. It goes from feeling like the cartilage of your nose to feeling like your ear lobe. It also opens and secretes fluid, which allows sperm to survive longer in order to fertilize the egg that your body has produced. This fluid is similar in feel and appearance to an egg white. Your basal body temperature (temp upon waking) rises in conjunction with your now-elevated levels of progesterone, which would remain elevated if pregnancy is achieved.
When you ovulate can vary from month-to-month, so don’t buy into the 14-day rule, even if you have a 28-day cycle. It’s best to know your cycle and keep tabs on it rather than follow some arbitrary rule that may not apply to you. If you don’t want to get pregnant, either use protection or don’t have sex when your cervix is high, soft, and open; and egg white cervical fluid is present. Continue to abstain or use protection for about three days after the fluid is no longer present.
Many women opt for purchasing ovulation predictor kits to determine when they’ll ovulate. OPKs detect a spike in LH, luteinizing hormone, which happens just before ovulation. But if you know you’re going to ovulate, why bother? And if you’re charting your waking temperature and see a shift toward higher temps, you’ll know once ovulation has occurred.
(As a side note, OPKs can be helpful for those who are actively trying to conceive, but don’t waste your money on the ones from the drug store. Go to www.fairhavenhealth.com and buy the dip sticks in bulk.)
There. No need to over-medicate, buy expensive OPKs, or wonder why reverse missionary is uncomfortable at least once a month (it’s because your cervix is lower and he’s running into it – switch positions). You have the basic tools for knowing what’s going on inside your body in your own two hands, literally.
For more information about charting your menstrual cycle, check out the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler for the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) or look into the Creighton Method.
If you learned something new, chances are your friends will, too! Share the knowledge!
Dr. Lindsay Mumma, DC.
East Coast Regional Director
- Biason, T., et al. Low-dose combined oral contraceptive use is associated with lower bone mineral content variation in adolescents over a 1-year period. BMC Endocr Disord. 2015 Apr 3;15:15. doi: 10.1186/s12902-015-0012-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4443632/
- Nelson HD, Zakher B, Cantor A, et al. Risk factors for breast cancer for women aged 40 to 49 years: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 156(9):635-48, 2012. http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/LowerYourRiskReferences.html#sthash.irx2oAxe.dpuf
- Gierisch JM, Coeytaux RR, Urrutia RP, et al. Oral contraceptive use and risk of breast, cervical, colorectal, and endometrial cancers: a systematic review. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 22(11):1931-43, 2013. http://m.cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/22/11/1931.abstract?ijkey=839b5256af7745186a604096777b7ec216bf3925&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha
Mobility / Activations
3 x 60s holds Squat Therapy
10 Push Ups
30s Downward Dog
Find a heavy FRONT SQUAT single.
*BEST EFFORT for Today.
*Only take 3 lifts at 90% or above with the confidence that you will make them.
Cardio / Stamina
8 Front Squats
12 Pull-Ups or Ring Rows
You can take the front squats from the rack.
Ring rows or bent over rows with dumb bells are a great sub for pull-ups.
The run can be a walk or a 500m row.
Get to working on these questions with your care provider. HINT: print this off!