I honestly feel that women must be educated about their menstrual cycles in order to improve their chances of conception. A great book to help women understand their cycles is “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler, MPH. I believe every woman should read this book. I’m just going to highlight key points that I think is important for the lay person to know about the menstrual cycle.
Just like the cycles of the moon (new, waxing, full, waning), a woman has a similar cycle during her menstrual cycle. The proliferation stage is when the uterus is filling up with blood, estrogen levels are high and there is cervical fluid. This would be like the waxing moon and full moon. Things are being built up in the body to prepare for conception. This is called the follicular phase of the cycle and comprises of days 3-16 give or take. The luteal phase is when the body switches from high levels of estrogen to progesterone. The body is no longer preparing for conception and preparing to shed blood if conception did not occur. This compromises of days 14-30 give or take. This would be when things are waning and the arrival of a new moon (new cycle) which would be the first day of your period.
One of the things I stress in the clinic is cervical fluid. When a woman is younger she has more days of visible cervical fluid and more abundant cervical fluid. As a woman gets older, the amount and quality of cervical fluid diminishes. The reason that cervical fluid is so important is because abundant quality cervical fluid allows the sperm easier upstream movement. Basically, cervical fluid helps the sperm get to their destination. In fact, sperm can live in that environment up to 2 days post intercourse only improving your chances of conception. Many women notice great improvement with their cervical fluid with Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs.
Furthermore, it is important to have regular 28-30 day cycles. That you have minimal pre/post period symptoms. The blood should have a fresh bright red appearance with no clots and no pain. I know this may sound unusual as many women are used to having discomfort during their period, but it should be minimal! One your cycle is regular, with abundant quality cervical fluid and the period is smooth, the environment for conception is there.