In a given year, 85% of women who have regular sex without protection will get pregnant. But this number obscures a more complex reality: to get pregnant, you have to have sex during a fertile time. This means the more sex you have, the higher the odds are of getting pregnant. Even a single instance of unprotected sex can result in a pregnancy if the timing is right, though, so the odds just don’t reveal the whole story.
Some people think that if they don’t get pregnant after a long period of not becoming pregnant, they must be infertile. This is a terrible birth control strategy. If you’re not using birth control, pregnancy is always a possibility–even after years of infertility. Moreover, there’s no way to know whether or not you’re able to get pregnant without significant medical testing. And even then, people diagnosed with infertility sometimes still do get pregnant.
So how can you tell if you’re likely to become pregnant? It all begins with knowing about fertility windows.
What are fertility windows?
Each month, the body releases an egg just once. Because sperm can live in the reproductive tract for 5-7 days, this means that you’re most likely to get pregnant the week before ovulation, and for a day or two after.
Identifying this fertile window can help you reduce the chances of pregnancy–or increase the odds if you’re trying to conceive.
Signs of a fertile window and how to tell if you’re fertile
The body goes through a number of hormonal changes as you approach your fertile window. Here are some telltale signs to look for:
- Fertile cervical fluid: You’ll suddenly notice that you have more vaginal discharge. It may be watery, or the consistency of egg whites. This fluid helps sperm reach the egg.
- Positive ovulation test: A positive ovulation test means that your body is releasing the hormones that tell your ovaries to release an egg. It’s possible to have a positive test and not ovulate, though. So if you think your fertile window has passed because you’ve already gotten one positive test, think again.
- Basal body temperature: By far the most accurate measure, this approach involves taking your morning temperature each morning. After ovulation, your temperature will increase slightly. You can read more about it in the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility.
Some exceptions to the rule
If you’ve already ovulated in a given month, you shouldn’t be fertile anymore. You’re also unlikely to be fertile during your period, or immediately after–though the farther you get from your period the more likely you are to be fertile.
There are some important exceptions, though:
- You can’t get pregnant while getting your period, but you can get pregnant when you’re bleeding from the vagina for some other reason. It’s easy enough to mistake this bleeding for your period. And if you have short cycles, sperm in the vagina during your period may stay there long enough to get you pregnant when you ovulate.
- If you have PCOS, any hormonal imbalance, are using birth control pills, or are approaching menopause, your fertility signs may be off.
- You cannot rely on any fertility window signs until you learn your body.
And of course, most importantly of all, not using birth control is a recipe for getting pregnant, even if you’re careful. If you want to get pregnant, then fertility signs can help. But if you don’t, the best option is to use birth control and monitor your fertility signs.
If you still have questions about Can I Get Pregnant? How to Tell if You’re Fertile — speak with your OB/GYN or call one of the reputable clinics listed on Abortion Clinics Online for more information.