Tracking Your Cycle: How to Get Started

This post is written by guest author Jessie Brebner. Jessie is a passionate advocate for Fertility Awareness as a gateway to improved health, body literacy and female empowerment. She is currently in training with the Natural Family Planning Teachers Association of the U.K. to certify as a qualified Fertility Awareness Educator, and will shortly be releasing Pen & Paper – the definitive Fertility Awareness charting journal. Head to penandpaperfertility.com to stay up to date with regular blogs on menstrual cycles, charting, journaling, natural contraception/conception and more. 

When you reach for your DivaCup every month, do you ever wonder why your period has chosen this exact day to stop by for a visit? Do you keep track of it with an app, or do you prefer to leave things to chance and never wear white? Do you worry when it comes earlier or later than expected? And have you ever wondered what is actually going ON down there behind the scenes to make sure that your period is a regular occurrence?

If these are the kinds of burning questions that keep you up at night, you’ll be thrilled to know that the arrival of your period doesn’t need to be a mysterious guessing game! In fact, your period will always reliably appear approximately 14 days after you’ve ovulated, and this time frame is known as the luteal phase.

Signs of Ovulation

“But… how do I know when I’m ovulating?”

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but no one can predict when ovulation will occur with 100% accuracy. You may have heard that ovulation is most likely to occur on day 14 of a 28 day cycle. However, this is not the case for all women, all the time. Most people don’t have a textbook cycle, and will often have shorter or longer cycles than the “average” length listed in medical textbooks. Plus, things like travel, stress, medication, illness, increased exercise or changes in diet can cause you to ovulate earlier or later than expected!

Luckily though, we’re not in the business of predicting ovulation – we’re in the business of tracking. Tracking your fertility signs, that is!

As you approach ovulation, your cervical fluid is affected by an increase in estrogen, and it progressively becomes wetter, clearer and more slippery (like raw egg white). After ovulation, the increase in progesterone causes a rise in your core resting temperature (known as your basal body temperature). Cervical fluid and basal body temperature are known as the Primary Fertility Signs.

Using a Fertility Awareness-Based Method, such as the Symptothermal Method, allows you to track these incredible changes and accurately pinpoint your fertile window. You’ll never be caught off guard by your period again!

Tracking Your Fertility

Pinpointing your fertile window also allows you to conceive easier when you’re ready. You can use the Symptothermal Method as birth control, which has been proven 98.2% effective with typical use. If that’s not exciting enough, tracking your primary fertility signs can also provide a window into your hormonal health. It can allow you to identify issues such as anovulation (lack of ovulation), delayed ovulation, short luteal phase, infertile cervical fluid, PCOS, low progesterone, irregular bleeding and more.

To learn more about your hormones and how to harness them to make life easier, you’ll want to check out the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. Keep in mind that if you want to use the Symptothermal Method of Fertility Awareness as birth control, you’re advised to work closely with an instructor. You can find one here.

A database of Fertility Awareness Educators can also be found here.

To get support and advice, join the Facebook group Fertility Awareness Method Of Birth Control where you’ll find over 18,000 other women who use the Symptothermal Method every day.

Finally, you’ll want to record your observations in an app like, or in a journal like Pen & Paper.

Your period doesn’t need to be mysterious or confusing. Your body has been showing you the signs all along – it’s just waiting for you to stop and listen.

 

*Please note that all of the above only applies to women who are cycling naturally without the influence of synthetic hormones. If you are on the Pill/ hormonal IUD/ Depo/ Vaginal Ring / Patch/ Implant etc then you won’t see these changes in your primary fertility biomarkers.

 

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