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#CycleSavvy: What you need to know about your fertility

Posted by Dr Fertility on

After spending most of our adult life trying to avoid getting pregnant, conceiving should be easy, right?

The reality isn’t quite so simple.  When the time comes to start a family, women are often surprised to find that it takes them longer than they thought it would. Women can often spend months trying to get pregnant because they don’t fully understand their fertility, which can cause plenty of frustration on their fertility journey.

To find out how “cycle-savvy” women in the UK actually are, we surveyed 300 women between the ages of 25-44 to find out how much they knew about female fertility. The results, as it turns out, were shocking.

Below are a few common misconceptions we want to bring to light to help women better understand their own fertility.

Misconception #1: How many days per cycle can a woman get pregnant?


65 percent of women do not know how long they're fertile for in each menstrual cycle


When we asked how many days per menstrual cycle a woman could be considered fertile, 65% of those surveyed didn’t provide the correct answer. Nearly 30% of our respondents thought that a woman was only fertile for 2 days per cycle, while 23% admitted that they didn’t actually know.


The correct answer? 6 days - this includes the five days prior to your ovulation window and the 24-hour ovulation period itself.


Fertility Nurse Consultant, Kate Davies said: “Unfortunately, in the UK, women receive very little education in regards to fertility and their menstrual cycle. As women are delaying starting families until much later, being aware of when in a cycle they can conceive is vital in helping couples conceive.”

Misconception #2: What is the difference between ovulation and a woman’s fertility window?


64 percent of women do not know the difference between ovulation and their fertility window.


Though many women know they are fertile when they ovulate, few are aware that you don’t actually have to have sex on the day you ovulate to get pregnant.


The results of our survey showed that women don’t fully understand the difference between ovulation and their fertile window: 38% of women said that they didn’t know, while overall 63% answered this question incorrectly.


Kate Davies said: “Ovulation itself only last for 12-24 hours, which means there’s only a finite time per cycle when conception can occur. However, the fertile window is longer than this short duration, as sperm can live in the vagina for approximately 5 days.”


Misconception #3: Approximately how long can a sperm cell live inside a woman’s body?


82 percent of women are unaware that sperm can live in the vagina for up to five days


Believe it or not, only 18% of women got this one right, even though understanding the lifespan of sperm can change your approach to timing intercourse and increase the likelihood you’ll get pregnant.


Kate explains: “As sperm can live in the vagina for approximately 5 days (and in some circumstances possibly up to 7), any sexual intercourse that occurs in the days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation can result in a pregnancy.


“Therefore, couples should have sex every 2-3 days throughout the cycle to maximise the chances of conception.”


Misconception #4: Do all women ovulate every cycle?

41 percent of women don't know that not all women ovulate every cycle.


59% of respondents thought that all women ovulate every cycle.


However, this isn’t true for all women.


“Certain hormonal conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) can cause irregular or absent ovulation,” says Kate. “This is often characterised by irregular periods or a lack of them altogether.


“If a woman experiences this, she should speak with a GP to find out the cause. She may then want to consider monitoring her cycles, either by recording her fertility indicators such as her basal body temperature and cervical secretions to determine when she is fertile or by using a fertility monitor.”


Spreading the word


These misconceptions aren’t just small gaps in everyone’s common knowledge: they are a reflection of a wider lack of understanding about fertility.


Here at Dr Fertility, we want to make sure that women have all the information they need to help maximise their chances of getting pregnant and make their fertility journey as stress-free as possible.  

For more educational information on trying to get pregnant and to view our range of products that can support you on your fertility journey sign up to our email newsletter.


You can take the #cyclesavvy quiz for yourself here.

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