What Is a Free Fertility Calendar?
A free fertility calendar helps you track the days on which you're most likely to become pregnant. A woman is fertile for only a few days during each menstrual cycle. If you understand your cycle and how your body prepares for pregnancy, you'll be able to time sexual intercourse for your most fertile days. That's not to say you can't practice during the rest of the month, but a fertility calendar might help you get pregnant more quickly.
If your periods are regular, it's likely that your ovaries release an egg about once every four weeks. This is called ovulation. If the egg is fertilized, it can begin developing into a baby. If not, it will be lost from the body during your period about two weeks later. Doctors think that the day or two before ovulation is the best time to try to get pregnant.
Keeping Track of Fertility
There are several ways to check for fertility. These include:
- Basal body temperature (BBT). Your temperature will rise by approximately one degree at the time of ovulation.
- Cervical mucus. Mucus released from the cervix becomes clear and stretchy a few days before ovulation.
- Periods. Most women ovulate about 14 to 16 days before a period starts, depending on the length of the cycle.
- Hormone changes. Over-the-counter monitoring kits can alert you to the hormone changes that accompany ovulation. A surge in Luteinizing Hormone (LH) occurs a day or two before ovulation.
You can learn more about monitoring your fertility by reading the LoveToKnow Pregnancy article on Signs of Ovulation.
Finding a Free Fertility Calendar
Free fertility calendars are available at many pregnancy-oriented web sites. The reliability of these sites is mixed. Some are maintained by doctors, midwives, or other pregnancy experts. Others offer information that's confusing or incorrect. Some exist to sell fertility or pregnancy products and offer a free fertility calendar to draw you in.
Calendars from Experts
The following calendars are from sites maintained and monitored by experts:
- The National Women's Health Information Center has a simple Ovulation Calculator based on the date of your last period.
- The Malpani Fertility Center is a fertility clinic in India. Their site has links to a calculator and several different fertility tools, all available for free.
- The Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University has a free fertility calendar you can download, along with instructions on how to use it.
- The National Women's Health Resource Center offers a downloadable BBT chart.
Calendars from Other Sites
Each of these sites offers a helpful free fertility calendar, but they also promote products, charge a fee to use other site services, or offer unverified information.
- Fertility Friend offers many different services to help you track your fertility. There is a charge for full membership, but the basic fertility calendar is free to use. It helps you chart information including the date of your last period, the length of your cycle, and your basal body temperature.
- JustMommies has a downloadable fertility chart with spaces for basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and other signs. JustMommies is an ad-heavy site with lots of links to fertility products.
- Fertility Plus has a free fertility calendar that's downloadable in several formats, including PDF and Excel. It says it's a BBT calendar, but it includes space for lots of other information, too. This not-for-profit site has lots of articles about fertility and conception, but it does caution that it's written "by patients, for patients" and that the information has not been verified by medical experts.
Accuracy of Fertility Calendars
The accuracy of any calendar depends on how regular your cycle is, how often you have periods, what methods you use to check for fertility, and how good you are at those methods. It also depends, to some extent, on chance. It's not impossible to ovulate at an unexpected time.
Free fertility calendars can be fun and interesting, but for a lot of women they aren't necessary. Many doctors recommend simply having regular sexual intercourse, at least every other day, once you've decided you want to become pregnant. Still, if you feel you need a little extra help, if you're worried about missing your fertile days, or if you're just the sort of woman who likes to have everything planned out, a fertility calendar can be a useful tool.