Do You Know Enough About Your Body to Use Fertility Tracking Apps? - Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka

Do You Know Enough About Your Body to Use Fertility Tracking Apps?

What could be simpler than birth control on your phone? A lot of things, apparently.

Getty Images

Hello and welcome to the rigorous and delightful sex ed class you probably never had but definitely should’ve. Today we’re going through the nitty gritty details involved in using a fertility awareness-based method as birth control! You may have heard this referred to as something like fertility tracking or the calendar method, but all describe the same thing: avoiding pregnancy by tracking the days on which you’re most fertile and planning your sex life around those days.

Fertility awareness can be as simple as tracking your menstrual cycle on a calendar with an antiquated instrument called a “pen.” But a slew of fancy phone apps aim to make it more convenient and accessible by letting you track all the necessary info on the device you spend your entire day on, anyway. A lot of people use it to try and get pregnant, but more and more lately, fertility tracking apps market themselves as birth control—in 2018, one (now subject of a lawsuit) even gained FDA approval as a contraceptive method.

But just because the government says it’s OK to use your phone as BC doesn’t mean you should throw your pills and condoms into the wind. The premise may seem simple, but using a fertility awareness-based method as your sole form of birth control requires a lot of bodily know-how. Do you have what it takes to use nothing but an app and a thermometer to stay baby-free? Check your reproductive prowess against everyone else’s in this quiz. (Don’t scroll to the bottom to see the answers until you’re done, because cheaters are no fun.)


Quiz time (no cheating!)

1. How many days are in an average, healthy menstrual cycle?
A) 14, but it ranges from 10-20.
B) 28, but ranges from 21-35.
 
2. When does ovulation happen in a regular cycle?
A) About 14 days before your period starts.
B) About 3 days after your period ends.
 
3. About how many days should you allow for ovulation?
A) Five days.
B) 24 hours.
 
4. For how many days should you avoid having sex around ovulation to most effectively prevent pregnancy?
A) About ten days.
B) Just the day of ovulation.

 
5. What does “basal body temperature” mean?
A) The body temperature in your pelvic region.
B) Your body’s temperature when you’re at rest.
 
6. Does basal body temperature increase or decrease around ovulation?
A) Decrease.
B) Increase.
 
7. How does cervical mucous change during the fertile window?
A) You’ll see more of it in your undies, and it’ll probably look like egg whites.
B) You’ll see less of it in your undies because your body is trying to retain as much as it can, to prep for pregnancy.
 
8. How long can sperm live inside your body?
A) 2-5 days.
B) A few hours.
 
9. True or false: your cycle can be thrown off by travel or stress.
A) True.
B) False.
 
10. True or false: if you get your period, that means you’re not pregnant.
A) True.
B) False.

Check your answers

1. How many days are in an average, healthy menstrual cycle?

Correct answer: B) 28, but it ranges from 21-35.

A healthy menstrual cycle (one that’s not affected by hormonal birth control or any health issues) is 28 days, Dr. Nate DeNicola, MD, an ob-gyn in Washington D.C., says. But that range looks different from person-to-person, and even from month-to-month. Your periods might be highly regular (like, same time on the same day every month) or maybe they’re all over the place, and that’s what’s normal for you.

Both cycles are fine, but Dr. DeNicola cautions that fertility awareness-based methods aren’t great if you can’t predict your next period. “If your cycle’s not at least somewhat regular, then this probably isn’t going to work well for you because the chance of predicting the fertile window to avoid is pretty low,” Dr. DeNicola says.

2. When does ovulation happen in a regular cycle?

Correct answer: A) About 14 days before your period starts.

If your cycle is close to the 28-day average (though many aren’t, and that’s totally fine/healthy), ovulation happens about halfway through, or 14 days before the start of your next period.

The chance of getting pregnant while solely using fertility awareness is 25 percent.

3. About how many days should you allow for ovulation?

Correct answer: A) Five days.

While it’s true that an egg only really survives for about 12-24 hours once it’s released from the ovary, Dr. DeNicola says the ovulation journey can take longer than that, or about five days, to be safe. “Ovulation, or the fertile window, is usually described as a five day window,” he says.

4. For how many days should you avoid having sex around ovulation to most effectively prevent pregnancy?

Correct answer: A) About ten days.

To use a fertility awareness-based method most effectively, Dr. DeNicola says it’s best to avoid sex about two to three days on either end of your five-day fertility window, bringing the total amount of time you should avoid sex to about ten days. Here’s the math you’re probably already doing in your head: If you add those ten days to the time spent on your period (unless you enjoy period sex, which, right on), that’s about half of every month spend avoiding sex. Or you can always use another method around the time of ovulation, like condoms.

5. What does “basal body temperature” mean?

Correct answer: B) Your body’s temperature when you’re at rest.

The basal body temperature can be measured orally, vaginally, or anally with an accurate thermometer that measures in tenths of degrees. Dr. DeNicola says it doesn’t so much matter what time of day you take your temperature, but that you should always take it at the same time of day (like you would a birth control pill, for example).

6. Does basal body temperature increase or decrease around ovulation?

Correct answer: B) Increase.

It’s very slight (like, tenths of a degree), but basal body temperature is used in fertility tracking because it mayincrease after ovulation has taken place. Yup, you read that right. The temp increase after ovulation helps people who are trying to become pregnant, more as a confirmation that ovulation has actually occurred, Dr. DeNicola says.

7. How does cervical mucous change during the fertile window?

Correct answer: A) You’ll see more of it in your undies and it’ll probably look like egg whites.

Yes, I know, this is gross. Dr. DeNicola knows it, too. But such are the wonders of the human body. Something you’ll hear people talk about when they do fertility tracking is checking the quality and consistency of their cervical mucous, or that clear/whitish stuff you see in your undies around the time of ovulation. “It’s biology, it’s kind of messy but if the cervical mucous is getting to be like egg whites and you can tell that’s different from normal—which you have to be checking—then it’s likely correlating with ovulation,” Dr. DeNicola says.

8. How long can sperm live inside your body?

Correct answer: A) 2-5 days.

Isn’t that a lovely image? But yes, this is legit: Dr. DeNicola says this can vary, but a healthy and expected range for sperm to be swimming around, totally viable and able to fertilize an egg, is about 2-5 days. Hence all the sex avoidance (or using another method, like a condom) around the time of ovulation. Those swimmers are tough.

9. True or false: your cycle can be thrown off by travel or stress.

Correct answer: A) True.

If you haven’t caught on by now, even the most highly regular of cycles can go haywire, making it extremely difficult (if not impossible) to accurately guess when you’re ovulating, 100 percent of the time.

10. True or false: if you get your period, that means you’re not pregnant.

Correct answer: B) False.

First of all, have you heard of implantation bleeding? AKA a small amount of bleeding that some people experience 10-14 days after an egg has been fertilized (or right around the time you’d be expecting a period). Not trying to scare you—just giving you the facts! About 25-30 percent of women have some sort of irregular bleeding in early pregnancy. The key distinction is that bleeding in early pregnancy, unlike a period, shouldn’t be enough to fill a pad or tampon. Take a pregnancy test or call your doctor if that’s happening.


Everyone gets an A

If you nailed this quiz and got every answer right: congratulations! You know better than basically everyone who’s suffered through this country’s abysmal sex education classes. But if you’re a lil embarrassed to share your real grade, consider this your condensed intro to fertility 101.

And no matter how well you did, get familiar with all the birth control options at your disposal before picking one. There are so many great contenders here. If a fertility awareness-based method is something you’re truly interested in, Dr. DeNicola urges you to please bring it up with your doctor. A good doc won’t ever shame your choices, even the ones that are statistically not great at preventing pregnancy.

What do you think ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  • COSMOSL_TWITTER_BANNER_NEW.jpg
MORE FROM