When coming off of birth control, your fertility may not be restored immediately. It can take some time for hormones to reestablish a healthy pattern. A woman's menstrual cycle is punctuated by only a few fertile days when it will be possible to become pregnant. By charting your cycles and confirming your ovulation pattern, it will be easier for you to time intercourse to your most fertile days, allowing for conception to occur.
Charting Your Cycles
Creating a chart of your cycles is as simple as marking days on a calendar. Cycle day one is the first day of your menstrual period. This marks the start of your follicular phase, when estrogen levels are high and your body is maturing follicles on the ovaries to produce an egg. Birth control can change the amount of estrogen in your body, causing longer or shorter cycles than normal, which can continue to prevent conception for some time after you stop using the birth control.
Mark each day on your calendar beginning with cycle day one. When you have come to the end of your cycle and the first day of your menstrual period occurs, this will be cycle day one of your next cycle. After birth control, it can take some time for your cycles to establish a normal, average length. Charting your cycles will allow you to see when your cycles are back to a normal pattern.
Ovulation is the critical fertile period during the menstrual cycle when an egg is released. Once an egg is released, it remains viable for fertilization for about 24 hours. Birth control pills may delay or prevent ovulation entirely; until the birth control hormones are out of your body, ovulation may occur at different times.
To determine when ovulation is occurring, you can use natural signs such as cervical mucus and position or use an ovulation predictor kit. As you approach ovulation, your cervix will move higher in the vaginal canal and become softer. The opening will also be more apparent; you can check these signs daily and record the results on your chart. Cervical mucus also will become abundant, clear and stretchy during ovulation; this fertile cervical mucus facilitates the sperm's journey into the uterus and acts as a storage medium for sperm.
Using an ovulation predictor kit measures the amount of luteinizing hormone in your urine. Since ovulation occurs at approximately the middle of your cycle, the day you will begin testing depends upon your cycle length. Women with shorter cycles will begin testing earlier than women with longer cycles. A positive result means that your luteinizing hormone has peaked, signaling ovulation and your most fertile time.
Pinpointing ovulation after birth control can take some practice, since ovulation may occur at a different time due to the residual hormones.
Basal Body Temperature
Basal body temperature can be used to confirm ovulation. Using a basal body temperature thermometer, take your temperature each morning upon waking and before getting out of bed, after at least four hours of unbroken sleep. This temperature will be low during the follicular phase, when estrogen is dominant. When ovulation occurs, the temperature will rise sharply and remain high until the end of the cycle. By using your basal body temperature, you can confirm that ovulation has occurred. If you do not see a temperature spike, this may mean that your cycle was anovulatory and you did not ovulate. This can happen after coming off birth control and should be temporary. If you have several anovulatory cycles, you may wish to see a doctor for further testing as you may have a hormone imbalance which was masked by your birth control.