• The Art of Charting: Keeping Track of Your Fertility Cycles

    by  • January 27, 2013 • Natural Fertility Series • 3 Comments

    The Art Of Charting

    Okay, this is the post that everyone should read 😉 Charting your cycles can open your eyes to all sorts of things going on with your fertility cycles, no matter what stage you are at in your fertility. Charting is one of the most powerful steps that women can take to maintain or improve not only their gynecological health but also their general health. All kinds of things can be seen in a chart – thyroid disorder, hormonal imbalance, adrenal fatigue, etc – once identified, they can be treated.

    There are several methods used to track your cycles… the most used are Basal Body Temp, Cervical Mucus, Saliva Microscope, OPKs and of course day-to-day symptoms. With combined charting methods, you should be able to notices patterns and consistencies.  You will be able to note if something is not normal, when you are ovulating and how long a “normal” cycle is for you. These things are helpful when you are trying to achieve or avoid pregnancy. Let’s take a look at these methods and how they work. I also want to introduce you to the BEST online tool when it comes to charting cycles.

     

    Basal Body Temperature

    BBT

    Basal body temperature is the resting temperature of your body. Using a basal thermometer, which can record the most accurate temperature up to a tenth of a degree, you record your temperature daily. You may take your temperature orally, rectally or vaginally… the main thing is staying consistent.

    During the first part of your cycle, your temperatures will be lower. Right before ovulation you will have a slight drop in temperature followed by a sharp rise in temperature. Not all women will have a drop in temperature before ovulation but if you notice your temperature drop, you can start baby dancing if conception is desired.

    DO:

      • Be consistent. Try to take your temp around the same time each day, whether it’s when you first wake from a full night’s sleep or if you take daily naps of 2 hours or longer. Also, always take your temp in the same place – if you start with oral temp, stick with it.
      • Have your thermometer, note pad or fertility chart and pen at your bedside. This takes the stress of finding what you need at the very sleepy stage of waking up.

    DON’T:

      • Don’t stress out if you miss a day. Getting used to charting take some time, like building a habit. Just move on to the next day.
      • Don’t record a fever if you are ill. Your chart will not be accurate if your body is fighting illness. Once you are feeling better, start up your charting again.

    Cervical Mucus Charting

    Earlier this month we discussed cervical mucus (CM). CM is another great way to chart your cycles. You don’t need anything special to use this method. And once you get the hang of it, you can mentally chart your cycles no matter where you are.

    Okay, so there is an initial gross factor, especially if you are just getting started with natural health. There are a few ways to check your cervical mucus. First, just take a peek at any discharge that lands in your undergotchies, make note of whether you are moist, dry or sticky. Another way is to look at the toilet paper after you wipe, you should notice a thick, shiny discharge. Lastly, if you really want a clear look at your cervical mucus, you can insert two fingers into the vaginal opening and “swab” the cervix.

    When it comes to charting your CM, your records might look something like this… Cycle Day 8 – none, CD 9 – tacky, CD 10 – tacky, CD 11 – creamy, CD 12 – creamy, CD 13 – stretchy, CD 14 – EWCM, CD 15 – wet/no CM, CD 16 – creamy, CD 17 – tacky….. Basically, at the end of the day, chart whatever type of CM you observed. The closer you get to ovulation the stretchier your CM becomes. After ovulation, you won’t notice much CM at all.

    DO:

      • Check your CM several times a day. Record the last type of CM you saw into your fertility chart.
      • Wash your hands prior to checking for CM vaginally to decrease the chances of irritation or infection.

    DON’T:

      • Don’t worry if you aren’t a lot of changes in CM right away. Everyone’s body is different and many women have “hostile” CM which can be corrected. (See my post on Cervical Mucus)
      • Don’t check cervical mucus for fertility charting after intercourse. Wait at least 6 hours afterward to check as residual semen may give the appearance of fertile CM.

    Ovulation (saliva) Microscope

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    Using an ovulation microscope is another way of charting when you are fertile or not. I have the Fertile Focus microscope (it looks like a lip stick tube). This mini microscope uses saliva to chart your fertility phases. When you hit your peak time of fertility, your saliva creates a ferning pattern on the lens of the microscope.

    To use the microscope, you would apply a drop of saliva onto the microscope lens when you awake in the morning. You need to do this before you take a drink, kiss the hubs or brush your teeth. Once the saliva has completed dried, you can take a peek through the microscope lens to observe whether there is a ferning pattern or not.

    At the beginning of your cycle you may observe nothing but little specks. As you get closer to ovulation you should notice a slight ferning pattern, which is recorded as the transition phase. When your peak fertility approaches the entire slide will be covered in a ferning pattern. Once you have ovulated, the ferning pattern will cease.

    Other Methods

    While you really don’t need much more than those methods mentioned above, it’s good to start noticing other changes in your body on a consistent basis. Do you crave foods during a certain phase? How about get headaches or insomnia? Are your breasts tender or can you feel a twinge of pain in your abdomen long before your period is scheduled to arrive? Always jot down your daily symptoms. Soon you will be able to understand what your body is doing with ease.

    And don’t forget that you can also use OPKs to confirm that your body is producing luteinizing hormones and preparing for ovulation.

    Resources for Recording Fertility Charts

    I came across an amazing online program that really helps keep all your fertility charting notes organized. And it is way more than just an organizing tool! But… you will have to wait until tomorrow to find out about this great program! I can’t wait to tell you more :)

    So until then, I have a simple chart you can use to get started. Click HERE to request your free, printable fertility charting sheet.

    While this isn’t a step-by-step guide (which could take up a weeks worth of posts), I hope you have been encouraged to start charting your cycles and really taking the time to understand how your body works.

    Do you chart your cycles? What methods to you use?

    About

    Jasmine is a God-fearing, always-learning, stay-at-home-wife to the best husband in the world! In the past couple of years, her new found loves have become herbal fix ‘ems and things “all natural”! She is continually learning to slow down, enjoying the important, simple things in life…like naturally taking care of her home, husband and health. She really enjoys creating things “home-made” and showing others how to do the same! You can also connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

    http://www.thymeandtimber.com

    3 Responses to The Art of Charting: Keeping Track of Your Fertility Cycles

    1. Pingback: FertilityFlower: The Best Charting Tool Available {a giveaway} | Like A Mustard Seed Blog

    2. Jess
      February 1, 2013 at 12:26 pm

      Hi Jasmine! Just wondering if you have any insight into charting when you still haven’t had a period due to extended breast feeding? I’m 18 months postpartum and still no period. I want to start charting so we can ttc in the near future. I signed up for Fertility Flower but with my last period being in 2010 , everything is a bit off (but that’s another story). Thanks for any input :)

      • February 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm

        Hey Jess! I would just keep track of your cervical mucus and daily symptoms. Of course you can check your temp just to get into the routine. Until you start ovulating again you won’t see much change, but you will notice when your body is ready to kick back into gear as your fertile CM will pop out of nowhere. I would also maybe look into a simple fertility cleanse or at least start taking chaste berry (vitex) and red raspberry leaf. Both are safe to use during nursing and will help your hormones get back to normal.

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