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    Charting Your Fertility Cycle

    (continued)

    Cervical Mucus and Ovulation continued...

    For a woman with a 28-day cycle, the pattern of changes in her cervical mucus could look something like this:

    • Days 1-5: Menstruation  happens.
    • Days 6-9: Vagina is dry with little to no mucus.
    • Days 10-12: Sticky, thick mucus appears, gradually becoming less thick and more white.
    • Days 13-15: Mucus becomes thin, slippery, stretchy, and clear -- like egg whites. This is the most fertile stage.
    • Days 16-21: Mucus becomes sticky and thick again.
    • Days 22-28: Vagina becomes dry.

    But your cycle could be very different from this pattern, which is why it's useful to mark changes on your own fertility chart.

    Ideally, you should check your cervical mucus every day, possibly every time you go to the bathroom. If you rub some toilet paper or your fingers -- after washing your hands -- over the opening of your vagina, you should be able to find cervical mucus. Examine the color and consistency between your fingers, and write down what you find.

    Cervical Position and Ovulation

    Another way to learn about where you are in your fertility cycle is to check the position of your cervix. If you put two fingers into your vagina, you should feel the cervix at the end. Before you ovulate, it should feel hard and dry, like the tip of your nose.

    During ovulation, you should notice that it seems to have shifted higher and that it feels softer and wetter. But you should always make sure that your hands are clean before you start poking around. And since it may be hard to tell exactly what you're looking for, you may want to talk to your doctor first.

    Tests and Devices to Predict Ovulation

    There are home tests and devices that offer you a different way to monitor your fertility cycle. Some people use these alongside traditional techniques, while others use them as a substitute.

    Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs). You canfind them at most drugstores, and they cost about $20 to $75 a month. They test the amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine.

    The kits can tell you when you have a surge in LH levels that happens 12 to 36 hours before you ovulate. Studies show the kits are more than 90% accurate.

    Next Article:

    When would you seek fertility help?