Good things often come with a price, right? And, the best example of this is sex. Sex is one of the most pleasurable things but often comes with a baggage of getting an unwanted pregnancy.
Women who have an active sexual life are constantly under the fear of getting pregnant. But, the best part is that nature gives you a calculator which gives you a safe period to enjoy your sex life.
In earlier days, people would often resort to a natural safe period to avoid pregnancy. So, with the right knowledge, you can enjoy your life without any mental barriers or pressures of conception.
As they say, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
In this post, you would be getting to know the nitty-gritty of having sex without the fear of getting unwanted conception unless you intend to go for it.
What is the safe period for having sex?
Your menstrual cycle starts with the first day of your period till the first day of your next period. Normally, the menstrual cycle for more than 90% of women is of 28 days.
The safe period to have sex is from day 1 to day 7 and from day 21 till when your cycle ends. But, this calculation is valid only when your cycle is of 28 days, if it is longer than your safe period is not reliable.
What makes this so efficient?
In the average menstrual cycle, there are around 7 to 8 days which are very ripe days for getting pregnant. When you can identify these days and can abstain or use protection on those days, you can enjoy unprotected sex with your beloved on the other days without getting pregnant.
A single egg is released in each cycle – the egg lives only for 24 hours. The sperm can live in your body for six days and can fertilise the egg in this period. So collectively, a woman is prone to get pregnant in the 7 to 8 days around the release of the egg.
The Fertility Period
Menstrual cycle has plenty of infertile days at the beginning followed by a few days of fertility period which again ends up into infertile period just before the next cycle.
The right understanding of three phases of the menstrual cycle in detail is must to understand the safe days. So, here you go:
The pre-ovulatory phase: This phase begins with the day soon after your menses get over. This phase extends till when the ovulation happens. The ovulation usually happens on the 14th day of the menstrual cycle considering it to be of 28 days.
Safe Period: The first seven days are safe as there is no egg waiting in the uterus to receive the sperm. Although the actual ovulation happens on the 14th day yet, there are chances of pre-ovulation or post-ovulation due to various factors. And, the sperm takes about three to five days to travel to meet the egg. Hence, only first seven days are considered safe.
Ovulatory Phase: It is the fertile phase of the cycle with maximum chances of conception. Usually, the process of ovulation occurs between the 10th and 19th day of menstrual cycle. During this phase, the pregnancy supporting hormones are released at their peak level by the female body. In this phase, the uterus lining thickens to receive the egg which sticks on to the inner wall of the uterus.
Although, the science behind menstruation suggest that ovulation happens in this phase only, yet, the challenges like a longer menstrual cycle and hormonal imbalances may cause a variation in ovulation.
It is no way safe to have unprotected sex during this phase. One needs to depend upon solid preventive measures to prevent unwanted pregnancy during this phase.
Post-ovulatory phase: It starts from the 22nd day and extends till when the menstrual cycle breaks into a period. It is again considered to be a safe phase for having unprotected sex. The egg has degenerated by now and the body is getting ready to remove the excess inner lining of the uterus through bleeding.
This method works out for those whose menstrual cycle lasts for 26 days to 32 days, and, for those whose menses are regular with a variation of 7 to 10 days.
Tip: There is ovulation detecting kit available at the medical stores. You can use it to detect your LT (Luteinizing Hormone) which will help you gauge your ovulation. The hormonal level in woman’s body is its highest right before ovulation.
The chances of pregnancy are the highest when you have unprotected sex before five days of ovulation. But, having unprotected sex soon after and before menses is the considered to be the safest period.
This calendar method has been used by women for decades now, but remember that this calculation does not work out if your menstrual cycle is shorter than 27 days. This is a scientific guideline followed to prevent unwanted pregnancy but it is surely not a fool proof method. The chances of unexpected ovulation are always there due to hormonal imbalances or due to invariable change in the duration of a menstrual cycle. Hence, it would be wise to be on guard and to keep tracking your menstrual patterns every month. Also, you should consider consulting your doctor for some physical preventive measures or some spermicidal applicants.
This method is unreliable in some situations
It is normal for cycles to vary each month; but if over 4 of your last cycles are shorter than 27 days, this method is not for you. The calculations are reliable when your cycles are between 28 to 32 days. Also, little variations in the last 6 cycles are not a problem, but the difference between your shortest cycle and longest cycle should not be more than 7 days. If just had a baby, or had your first period, or are nearing menopause, this method might not work well for you.
How to know your safe days with your period history
Take the shortest cycle in the past 6 months, subtract 18 from it. This will give you your first fertile day. For example, if the shortest cycle you had was 26 days, it should be 26-18=8. Mark the day 8 from the beginning of your periods – this is the beginning of your ovulation.
To find out the last fertile day of your cycle, take the longest cycle you had in the past 6 months. Subtract 11 from it. Mark the eleventh day from the beginning of your period. This is your last fertile day. For example, if your longest cycle was 30 days long, you get 30 – 11 = 19. The 19th day of your cycle is your last fertile day.
This method only tells you a prediction of what could you be your fertile and infertile days. You should corroborate the results with the below-said methods to make sure you are indeed infertile.
Understand your body temperature
-Your body gives away many signals that it is fertile and ovulating. One of the signs is your body temperature. The rules for this method are:
-Use a good quality basal thermometer to take accurate readings.
-You must take your temperature religiously before getting out of bed, every morning.
-You must have also had at least 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep before taking the temperate.
-If you use a vaginal, rectal or oral thermometer, use the same method consistently to get accurate results.
-Use a graph to see a pattern emerge. When you see a half degree rise in temperature consistently for three days, it means you are ovulating – you are prone to getting pregnant in these days.
-Every month, from the start of your periods to around 4 days after your body temperature rises, you can get pregnant. The rest of the days are safe.
-For most women, the typical temperature is at 96 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit and goes up to 97 to 99 degrees upon ovulation.
-Stress, heated mattresses, jet lag, alcohol, caffeine, smoking and being a night owl will definitely mess up with your temperatures – if you do all of these, this method might not be the right fit for you.
Keeping Track of your Vaginal Discharge
Cervical Mucus is the sticky stuff that comes out of your vagina. The hormones that are responsible for your periods are the ones that control your discharge too, so keeping track of the discharge is one way to know when your body is less likely to get pregnant. It can be handy if you can take the help of a doctor when you begin, so you can confidently differentiate between the different discharges.
The rules for the cervical mucus method are:
– You must keep track of your discharge for at least 2 cycles to be sure that you understand what is happening.
– Use an app or chart to keep track of your discharge every day.
– Start noting down your mucus from the day your periods stop completely.
– Wipe your vagina before you pee. Use a white toilet paper, look at your underwear or use clean fingers to check out the consistency.
– Chart out the periods, dry days, sticky days, wet days, slippery days and cloudy days.
– Sex can make you secrete differently, so note this down in your chart.
What vaginal discharges mean
– When you are on your periods, blood will mix with mucus. You have high chances of getting pregnant during your periods.
– The immediate days after the periods when you are safe – you won’t get pregnant.
– Mucus can be white, yellow or cloudy and feels tacky and sticky when you ovulate. These are the best days to get pregnant.
– Days, when you have clear, slippery egg white kind of mucus that stretches between fingers, are your fertile days too – you’ll very likely get pregnant.
– At the end of your cycle, you’ll have dry days again – those are safe days where you can lose protection.
– After 2 months, you’ll notice a pattern – check these results with your body temperature and cycle length to get definitive results.
Are these the right methods for you?
All these described methods are collectively termed fertility awareness methods and are around 76% to 96% effective, totally dependent on how you practise them. Beware that these methods don’t protect you from sexually transmitted diseases. There are lots of apps, charts and cycle beads that help you keep track of these methods. When in doubt, confirm with your doctor to make sure you are on the right track. We believe information is strength!