Unless you're planning to have kids in the near forseeable future, it's easy to take your fertility for granted. But fertility isn't the same for everyone. If you want to know if you are fertile, doctors say there are a few things you should look out for.
According to Dr. Josh Hurwitz, a reproductive endocrinologist with RMA of Connecticut, there are several major factors that can impact your fertility. For one, there's genetics. Some women are able to get pregnant as they are older, which can depend on genes, he says. "Other women will have genetic predisposition to fibroids that can distort the uterus, or endometriosis, which can decrease fertility and quality of life issues as well." Other major factors can include your lifestyle habits.
You can't always tell how fertile you are, especially if you're dealing with other health conditions. But your body can clue you in by what it's doing each month. "Remember back to health class, ovulation causes the period, not the other way around," Dr. Hurwitz says. "So if you're menstruating regularly, then you're fertile each month by having had that chance at pregnancy."
Here are some things your body will do if you're fertile, according to experts.
1. Your Periods Will Happen Right On Schedule
"As annoying as periods can be, not everyone can be so lucky [to have it right on time every month]," Dr. Angela Jones, Astroglide’s resident sexual health advisor, tells Bustle. When you're incredibly fertile, your period will happen right on schedule. It's predictable, reliable, and happens every 28 to 32 days.
2. You'll See A Noticeable Change In Your Discharge
"A woman’s cervical mucus changes when she’s ovulating as the amount of estrogen in her body increases," Mark Trolice, M.D., Director of Fertility CARE: The IVF Center, tells Bustle. Your discharge may become watery and sticky, so it's easier for sperm to enter and travel.
3. You'll Get PMS Symptoms Like Clockwork
Premenstrual syndrome affects nearly 90 percent of women, and usually happens a week or so before your period. As uncomfortable as the cramps, bloating, and breast tenderness can be, Dr. Angela says, these are all signs that you're ovulating. As long as these symptoms occur regularly and it's not disrupting your life in any way, you're in good shape.
4. You'll Have Manageable Periods
"Your periods aren't supposed to ruin your life," Dr. Angela says. They're not meant to. So if you're experiencing periods that are painful or really heavy, you may want to talk to your doctor about the possibility of endometriosis. Painful and heavy periods are signs of endometriosis, which can cause infertility.
5. You'll Notice That Your Libido Goes Up
Studies have found that women tend to be seen as more attractive during ovulation. One study published in the journal Ethology found that women have certain pheromones during ovulation that potential partners are drawn to. Another University of Cambridge study found that women's faces tend to get redder during the peak of ovulation, which can also add to this. But according to Dr. Trolice, something else may play a role in that. "Women's libidos tend to escalate around ovulation, which may impact how they [act]" he says.
6. You'll Have A Heightened Sense Of Smell Around Ovulation
A 2013 study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior found that women get a heightened sense of smell as they reach the peak of fertility. Researchers conducted a study of naturally cycling women and those taking oral contraceptives. As they found, naturally cycling women who were nearing ovulation were much more sensitive to musk and pheromones than women on contraceptives. Although researchers say there's a link between olfactory sensitivity and the reproductive system, the reason behind why this happens is still unclear.
7. You'll Feel Good, Or As Good As You Possibly Can, All Throughout Your Cycle
Unless you have any underlying health conditions, your cycle shouldn't cause you any trouble. "When you're good to your body, it's good to you (most of the time)," Dr. Angela says. "Keeping a clean bill of health via your lifestyle pays dividends." When you're doing what you can to stay healthy, you'll protect your fertility and keep physical symptoms like cramping to a minimum.
When you're fertile, everything is likely working as it should. Just remember that not everyone can be so lucky to have manageable periods every month. But if you do, it's a pretty good sign that you are fertile.