Jennifer Aldoretta wrote this on March 11, 2015
Groove has something for everyone. Whether you’re on the pill or using barrier methods, we’ve got you covered. Even if you’re looking to prevent pregnancy without hormones or devices, we’ve got what you need!
Effectively avoiding pregnancy without hormones or devices is slightly more complicated than making a sacrifice to the vagina gods or relying on the good old-fashioned “pull-and-pray.” Luckily, avoiding pregnancy using your body’s own stream of data is easy to learn, and it’s also really darn effective (we’re talking on par with the pill, here).
Sperm can live up to five days inside your body waiting to fertilize an egg, and an egg lives for up to 24 hours after ovulation. All-in-all, that’s about a six-day window when it’s actually possible to get pregnant…seriously, WHY didn’t sex ed teach this?! Charting your fertility helps you figure out exactly when this “fertile phase” occurs.
So just how do you know which days you’re fertile? There are two primary fertility signs you’ll need to monitor to figure out when you are and aren’t at risk of a pregnancy: (1) cervical fluid and (2) basal body temperature.
Cervical fluid is, hands down, the most important measure of fertility.
Cervical fluid is a secretion produced by special glands in your cervix in response to hormone changes, and it’s the whole reason sperm can survive inside your body in the first place. Without this fluid, sperm will die within several…which means no babies! Cervical fluid is only produced around ovulation (important factoid alert!), which is the whole reason you can prevent pregnancy using nothing but your body’s data.
Basal body temperature (BBT) is your body’s waking temperature, and it picks up on the hormone changes that occur just after ovulation. Before you ovulate, your BBT is low. After you ovulate, you’ll experience a sustained rise in your BBT, called a temperature shift (check out this sample basal body temperature chart). Since your egg will die about 24 hours after ovulation, measuring your temperature every day helps you figure out when your egg is dead and gone and a pregnancy won’t be possible until your next cycle.
Yes, it’s possible to ovulate twice during a single menstrual cycle, but there’s a silver lining here: if you ovulate a second time, it will happen within 24 hours of the first ovulation. So once you’ve confirmed ovulation, you can rest assured that you’ll remain baby-free.
Monitoring the changes in your cervical fluid and BBT make up a method called the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness (STM). Charting your fertility (and avoiding pregnancy) with the sympto-thermal method requires that you follow a simple set of rules. If you’re interested in charting your fertility to avoid a pregnancy, our website and our app both have loads of great info to help you get started.