Fertility Awareness And How To Chart Your Cycle
If you want to understand your fertility you need to chart your menstrual cycle.
Getting Your Chart
In order to begin, you can download a chart from this site, or get one from your G.P. or fertility and family planning organisations. The NFP (Natural Family Planning) organisation has trained natural fertility teachers throughout the U.K.
Some people prefer a chart where the temperature scale goes up the side and the dates go along the bottom.
Choosing Your Thermometer
You need to look at very small temperature changes so it is important to have an easy to read fertility or ovulation thermometer, not a regular thermometer. If you choose a digital thermometer it should be accurate to 2 decimal places. If you prefer a mercury thermometer, which are usually more accurate, but are not always so easy to read, make sure it has sufficient graduations between 35 degrees C and 37.5C. You need to use the same thermometer every day, don't switch to a different one mid-cycle.
Taking Your Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
You should have the thermometer by the side of your bed and take your temperature as soon as you wake up in the morning, before you get out of bed and before eating or drinking anything. It's important to try and take your temperature at more or less the same time every day.
You can take it orally or vaginally but don't mix the two. Choose one or the other and stick to it. Vaginal temperatures are usually more accurate, as they give a core body temperature but you may prefer to stick the thermometer in your mouth. Take your temperature for the time recommended by your thermometer, and then note the reading and enter it on your chart. If it has a save function, or is a mercury thermometer you can look at it later and record it then.
Recording Your Information
Most charts are very user friendly and make it easy to record your BBT each day. You should also record any differences to your normal activities. E.g. If you had a disturbed sleep, or went to bed or woke up earlier or later than usual. There is usually space to record your vaginal or cervical mucus, breast tenderness and so on. Some women also like to check their cervix, and record the changes day to day.
Don't forget to put when you had sexual intercourse on the chart too, as the seminal fluid can sometimes be mistaken for mucus.
Use a new chart for each cycle and remember that Day 1 of your cycle is the first day of your period. If you chart for at least three cycles you will soon see a pattern emerge.
Although all this charting and recording may seem like a lot of bother, the more information you record, the easier it will be to see your body's patterns.
It will tell you when you are ovulating and it will also show you when you are pregnant, even before you miss your period.