Article written by: Kim Heintz, FDN-P, hTMAP,
Vykon Coach. Follow Kim on social media
Learn more about her at Kim Heintz.
There are a lot of myths about our menstrual cycles and when we can get pregnant. It can be really confusing because most of us were not really taught a lot about this big part of our lives when we were growing up.
That’s why so many women are scared to get off the pill or get their IUDs removed even though they suspect that their birth control is causing them health issues.
Thus, if you don’t want to get pregnant, you might feel like you have to pick between two less-than-ideal choices.
I’m here today to bust some of these myths.
Myth #1: We are fertile all month long
This is a common misconception.
Our fertile window is only 6 days. This includes the one day we ovulate and the 5 days leading up to that. Once the egg is released, it disintegrates 12-24 hours if it is not fertilized.
Our cervical mucus keeps sperm alive up to 5 days as you approach ovulation. So even if you have sex a few days before ovulation, then there’s a chance you could still get pregnant.
Once the egg has gone (which is usually within a day of ovulation), you cannot get pregnant until after your next menstrual cycle has started.
Myth #2: Menstrual cycles should always be 28 days and every woman ovulates on day 14
While 28 days are considered “average”, a woman’s cycle is considered “normal” if it’s between 21 and 35 days long and it is consistent. Take my cycle, for example…it is always 30 days long. That doesn’t mean that it’s abnormal…it’s normal for me because my period always shows up exactly every 30 days.
If your cycle jumps all over the place month-to-month, that is something that you want to explore deeper because it’s your body’s way of telling you that something is out of balance.
Even if a woman’s cycle is 28 days, that does not mean she will, by default, ovulate on day 14. Every woman is different. Some ovulate a little before that, some a little after that. There was a study of 800 women who had 28-day cycles, and the day they ovulated ranged from day 11 to day 20.
Myth #3: You cannot get pregnant if you have sex during your period
When I work with women who want to stop their birth control, they’ll tell me a story that they heard of a woman who got pregnant even though she had sex during her period and that’s concerning for them because they aren’t in a season of life where they want to get pregnant.
While there’s a smaller chance of this happening, it can happen if you ovulate within that 6 day window of when you have sex.
If your cycles are short or you ovulate early, then that’s when you might be at risk.
So what can you do?
You might be feeling like, “Ok, I get that I can’t get pregnant all month long, but I have no idea when I ovulate.”
If you decide to get off birth control, then getting to know your body is extremely valuable.
I always say that learning about my body and getting off birth control was one of the most empowering things I ever did for myself.
And this can be the same for you.
- Start tracking your cycles
I use the Natural Cycles app and thermometer, which is an FDA-approved non-hormonal form of birth control. Simply take your temperature every morning with their thermometer and it will tell you whether or not you are fertile. That way, you can plan when you have sex around what the app says.
- Use ovulation strips to determine when you are ovulating
Knowledge is power. Ovulation strips are a simple kit you can use at home to determine when your ovulation days are. Women use them all the time to figure out when they are most fertile so that they can get pregnant. However, why not use them to predict when you’re fertile so you can plan your intimacy around that? They can work in both situations!
That way, if you don’t want to get pregnant (or do), you’ll know exactly at what point of the month you are ovulating.
If all this sounds really good but you’re afraid of coming off birth control because of really bad PMS and other hormonal issues, then it’s a really good idea to work with someone to help you through that process.
Birth control can lead to mineral and vitamin deficiencies, estrogen dominance, and copper toxicity – and through targeted supplementation, diet, and lifestyle strategies, you can set your body up for success as you transition off of it.
As you know, we are all about the HTMA here – and the HTMA is a great place to start when transitioning off birth control. Reach out to us and we can help!