How do I track my cycle?


When you are Trying to conceive (TTC), the first thing you need to think about is, how to track your cycle. Ask yourself: Do I get my period on a monthly basis, is it the pretty same time each month? And how long does my last? Does one month differ from the next?

So, Let’s track a Cycle: This is an example of a 28-Day cycle, so days can vary with individuals.

You can start by using a calendar and you are going to mark Day 1 of your cycle the first day of AF that you have a full flow and not spotting. So if you start seeing blood and it’s spotting but the next day you are flowing, count the day of flow as Day 1.

During your period, you are shed the thickened uterine lining and extra blood through the vagina. Your period can vary each month and it can be light, moderate or heavy depending on how much you bleed. It’s common for a period to last 3-5 days but others can last 2-7 days, which is normal.

After AF your body is getting ready for the next step, which is ovulating. For most women a 28-day cycle is common and this should occur on Day 14 or 15. Ovulation is when the egg is released from the ovary and goes down the fallopian tube where it waits for the sperm and this is where fertilization occurs.

Once fertilization occurs, the egg stays in the fallopian tube for 3 days before it moves down to the uterus for implantation. So this would be on Days 16-19 approximately. Implantation generally occurs 6-10 days after ovulation, or on Days 20-24 of cycle. The fertilized egg goes through its cell division and corpus luteum, which is left from the follicle that released the egg, produces progesterone at this time, which is preparing the lining of the uterus for implantation.

Once the embryo implants in the uterus this is when the pregnancy hormone HCG is produced. HCG can be detected in the blood about 11 days after conception and about 12-14 days by the urine HCG test. Generally HCG will double every 72 hours.

So let’s make it easy to see – Day 1 is January 1

January 1 – Day of full flow

January 1-7 Menstruation (Menstruation could be 3-5 or 2-7 days long)

January 14-15 Ovulation occurs

January 16- 19 Egg fertilized and is still in fallopian tube but starts it’s trip to the uterus

January 20- 24 Implantation occurs and HCG is starting to be produced

January 26 – HCG can be detected in the blood

January 27- 29 HCG can be detected in the urine

January 28- If not pregnant AF should be starting again around this date.

So this is what a typical 28- Day cycle looks like : we need to verify these dates using the Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPK’s) or some women can use their own bodies with symptoms. Some women don’t get symptoms so the kits will help. You really need to track 2-3 months to see your pattern and see if your body repeats this pattern each month.

Our nurses would tell the patients to start the OPK’s on Day 9 to start testing. I read on the box at the store the company wants you to start on Day 5. This may because some women have no idea when they are ovulating and they don’t want you to miss it. If you are not sure start on Day 5 but once you find out that it is after Day 9, start on Day 9, so you are not wasting test strips. It is best to test the same time everyday either morning or afternoon.

The test strip has what is called a control line or reference line. This line is important to see, so you know the test kit is working properly. Take a good look at this line note the color and intensity of the control line. This kit is measuring the hormone LH and this hormone is being produced during this part of your cycle, so you will start seeing a test line appearing, but it has to match up to the control line intensity or darker to be considered POSITIVE. We want to pick up when LH SPIKES, then this tells you will be ovulating in the next 36 hours. I have heard from patients the color blue and purple can be hard to read. It is very important to read it exactly when the instructions tell you…. by reading it after the time the color can change and give you wrong results.

So your fertile window is 5 days before ovulation and the day of ovulation. Sperm can stay alive in the cervical mucus for 5 days so there is a total of 6 days for your fertile window. So in the cycle I put together the fertile window would be Day 12 – Day 17.

I gave you this example because the numbers were easy to see…Cycles start anytime of the month that is why you have to write these things down on a calendar or on an App and it will help you keep track. Not every month is the same, they can vary slightly.

But definitely see your physician if you are not having your period, sooner than later.

Some women have shorter cycles, lasting only 23 days; some have much longer ones, lasting up to 35 days. If your cycle is shorter or longer this could indicate a hormonal problem, so it might be beneficial to consult your OB-GYN. I found this site that can help you predict your ovulation date for cycles that are not 28-day cycles. This might be able to guide you if you know how many days in your cycle.

If you are not having a period each month or have missed your period for a long time, you need to go to your OBGYN. They will be able to test your hormones and see what’s going on. You can’t get pregnant without your period.

Don’t be confused with the pregnancy test kit, we only produce the hormone HCG when we are pregnant, so if you get a faint line on a pregnancy test then you are most likely just pregnant and you should call your doctor to do a blood test.