You may be surprised to hear that most women have no idea when they can get pregnant. A recent study showed that 2/3 of young adults in the U.S. do not know that women are most fertile around the middle of their cycles (Berger, 2012). In an Australian study, only 16% of women actively seeking fertility treatments could correctly identify which days of their cycles they could get pregnant, despite the fact that most of these women thought that they were targeting the right days to achieve pregnancy. And according to a study by Johns Hopkins researchers, almost 60% of women and 50% of men say it is somewhat likely that they are infertile, without having information from a healthcare provider. Furthermore, the American Infertility Association, says that at least 20% of "perceived infertility" cases are due to mistimed intercourse.
So what is going on? Why are so many women unaware or misinformed about their fertile days? Why do so many people believe they may be infertile? And how can using a simple family planning tool like CycleBeads help reduce the number of anxious couples trying to get pregnant, and the millions of dollars spent on unnecessary fertility treatments? We have a few ideas...
Why don't women know when they can get pregnant?
A good question and one that doesn't have an easy answer. There are likely a few reasons:
1) Using Hormonal Contraception
Use of hormonal contraception may cause a woman to lose touch with her normal cycles. Many women who have been using hormonal contraception, particularly those who have used it for quite some time, are likely confused about when pregnancy can occur. They’re simple out of touch with their cycles.
Hormonal contraception affects a woman's menstrual cycle and is believed to work by suppressing ovulation (strange that they don't know for sure, isn't it!) . Some women take hormonal birth control that mimics a regular cycle with their "periods" coming every 28 days. These aren’t actually periods – they’re just bleeding that results from the “pill free week”, taking the last several pills in the package that don’t actually contain hormones, or removing the hormonal ring after 3 weeks of use. Others take hormonal contraception that may reduce the number of "periods" a woman has each year. But again, hormonal birth control just mimics a regular cycle, without ovulation or menstruation. Therefore a woman using hormonal contraception may be much less conscious of the changes that would happen in her body each cycle under normal conditions.
2) Misinformation from Unreliable Sources
Many women are told from an early age that they can get pregnant any day of their cycle. This is simply untrue. There are a limited number of days during a woman's cycle when she can get pregnant. But because we live in a world that would rather err on the side of caution many women have had the mantra "you can get pregnant at anytime" instilled in them and they blindly believe it. As a result, some women have sex without getting pregnant and mistakenly believe that means they’re infertile.
3) Information Overload when it Comes to Fertility Awareness
Another reason many women may not understand when they are most fertile is simply that there is an overload of information available. If you do a little research, you may be overwhelmed with the amount of information and the expectations that you will chart, take your temperature, study your secretions, and generally have to get a PhD in reproductive physiology in order to identify the days when pregnancy is most likely. This discourages many women from even trying to understand their fertility!
CycleBeads - An Easy Way to Identify Your Fertile Days
CycleBeads and the related CycleBeads apps are visual tools based on the Standard Days Method™ of family planning. They make it extremely easy to identify which days pregnancy is possible and which days pregnancy is not likely, simply by knowing the first day of your period each cycle and then keeping track of your cycle days. Specifically they identify Days 8 through 19 of a woman's cycles as the days when she can get pregnant if her cycles are between 26 and 32 days long. These potentially fertile days take into account the timing of ovulation, the variation in that timing from one cycle to the next, and the lifespan of the sperm and egg.
Once a woman enters the date her period started (in the case of the CycleBeads apps) or puts a ring on the first bead (in the case of the physical CycleBeads tool), CycleBeads will then identify which days this cycle pregnancy is possible.
Recent surveys found that women using this natural family planning method to achieve pregnancy are able to get pregnant quickly (89% of women who successfully achieved pregnancy with CycleBeads or CycleBeads apps, 40% were pregnant within the first month of use, and 75% were pregnant within 3 months of use). 90% of respondents used CycleBeads as their only conception aid.
Can knowing when you’re potentially fertile help every woman get pregnant?
Certainly not. There are many reasons couples try for years to get pregnant without success. And many people can be helped by medical intervention. But knowing your fertile days and accurately timing intercourse accordingly is an important first step.