Charting Basics | Understanding Your Cycle

I received several requests to share more about charting after I posted about my preconception journey, so I thought I’d talk more about the methods I learned.  Charting reproductive cycles is a valuable tool that any woman can use easily and effectively to learn more about her body and reproductive health.  It takes only a few minutes a day and the only cost is the price of a thermometer.

Before you read on, I want to make absolutely certain that you understand I am just sharing my personal experiences with charting my own reproductive cycles.  I am not an expert on the subject, nor am I a certified health professional.  I strongly suggest consulting expert sources, such as a book, charting specialist, and/or a doctor to learn more about how to effectively chart your cycles before you begin to chart yourself.

charting reproductive cycle

My experience with charting started about six years ago when I went off the birth control pill for the first time and wanted to see how my body and cycles would (or would not, as in my case) self regulate.  I dutifully took my basal body temperature, which you do first thing upon waking before getting up, every morning for a year and recorded it in a journal.  Although I didn’t attempt or even know about the full, three-part charting method just yet, my consistency in taking my morning temperature technically counted as charting.  Getting into this daily habit of paying attention to my reproductive health served me well when I decided a few years later to follow a more in-depth charting method.

Please be advised that some of the links provided are affiliate links and I do receive a small commission if you make a purchase using those links.  This does not cost you any extra when you make a purchase.  I very much appreciate your support of this blog in doing so!

I gleaned most all of my current information about charting reproductive cycles from Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.  This guide walks you through every detail of the female reproductive cycle and how charting can provide a wealth of information about how your own body is functioning at any given time.  I highly recommend this particular read before you consider charting for yourself.  It provided an invaluable wealth of information for me that helped me clearly and easily understand charting.

The other book I referenced in my pre-charting research was The Garden of Fertility by Katie Singer.  I read Taking Charge of Your Fertility first and felt like it provided all of the information I needed to chart my own cycles, so I didn’t read Singer’s book quite as closely, although I did cross-reference some of the major points.  I also photocopied the “low temperature” chart in the back of The Garden of Fertility and used that as my chart of choice.

There are many available resources for charts depending on your personal preferences, including computer software, phone apps, and paper copies.  I prefer written charts, which is why I went with the one from Singer’s book.  I felt like it could accommodate my particular needs well as someone with a lower basal body temperature.  I also liked that there was room for me to keep track of general health as well in the bottom “Misc.” section.

I am sharing copies of my personal charts below.  These images, and all others included in this blog that are my own, are copyrighted and copying or redistributing them in any form is prohibited by law.  I also ask that you kindly respect my sharing of very personal information.

chart comparison 2015

Here you can see two charts from my preconception journey.  The one on the left is from last fall and represents a typical cycle for me in the last year or so after I got my reproductive cycles under control with the help of both Eastern and Western medicine (which took a little over a year).  The chart on the right is from my last cycle this spring in which I conceived.

My cycle followed a longer pattern than what is taught as “normal” with an average 35-37 day cycle and ovulation around day 22, as opposed to a 28 day cycle with ovulation on day 14.  Not every woman falls into the “normal” cycle range and even those who don’t may have healthy cycles.  Charting is a great tool to determine what is normal and healthy for you.  I was able to conceive with a longer than normal cycle once I reached optimal reproductive health.

I used the three-part method to get as complete as a picture as I could of my reproductive health, which includes taking my basal body temperature every morning, checking my cervical position and firmness, and taking note of my cervical mucus on a daily basis.  These three points can provide a very clear picture of your cycle when tracked properly and consistently.  I also tracked other daily experiences such as headaches, stomach problems, and anciety levels, which I came to learn played an important role in my reproductive health.  Again, I urge anyone wanting to learn how to effectively do so to consult an expert source.

I explain in more detail how I used charting to help me understand my cycles in this video:

I hope my sharing helped you understand a little more about the benefits of charting.  I truly believe it is an invaluable tool for not just becoming aware of your reproductive health, but general knowledge about how your body functions.  No one has more access and information about your health than you do yourself.  Taking just a few minutes a day to assess and be aware of how your body is functioning is time well spent in my opinion.  I definitely plan to pick up charting again once I give birth.

I’d like to reiterate that I am not an expert on charting and strongly suggest you consult a professional source before charting yourself.  Wishing you all the best in your charting journey should you choose to do so!

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* Post contains affiliate links.  This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

29 comments

29 thoughts on “Charting Basics | Understanding Your Cycle”

  1. Yes! This is great. I haven’t watched the video yet so I’m not sure if you mention this, but WomanCode is another great resource if you are having trouble with your cycles. So happy for you guys!

    1. I love the womancode. It is so great for women that want to conceive and works for women that just want to understand their body too. Alisa Vitti is amazing.

  2. Love your openness and willingness to share. Forwarding this to a friend who has been trying for years to get pregnant, and doctors have not been able to pinpoint a reason she & her husband haven’t conceived. Hopefully this will provide her with the knowledge to understand her body better and possibly give them hope. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Jen, Thanks for sharing something so personal with us. My husband and I are currently struggling with infertility and you sharing your struggles has given us hope.

  4. How generous of you Jen, to share your charting methods and personal charts. Also very brave. As always, I love your colour coding 🙂

    Hope it will help ladies out there and their partners!

    I’m also very grateful that you are still posting non-pregnancy related content as always: organising, planners, makeup and the like. My favourites!

    All best wishes for you, Don, Winnie & the little baby bump* 🙂

    *JTC: ‘bump’ is a nice way to refer to the unborn baby, in British English!

  5. Hi, thanks a lot for this post. Very informative. I have a question about the timing of intercourse, if you do not mind. Some people say it should be done every other day, some other say that by the LH peak it is better to start doing it everyday, etc .. Since you have been reading a lot, have you find a ‘proper’ answer to this?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. A lot of expert sources recommend the every other day method, but it depends a lot on the man’s sperm count. Don has a very high and healthy sperm count so we didn’t have to worry about that. In our case we were told once a day was just fine, but not more frequently around the fertile window.

    2. Hey Jen! Thanks so much for this wonderful post. I wanted to mention something you might want to look into. I watch your videos and read your blogposts mainly from my iphone. I’m also a frequent Amazon shopper so I have their app on my iphone. Normally when an Amazon link opens up on my phone, the page then opens up to the app on my phone(where I then add the item to my shopping cart. Sometimes I checkout right away, other times I wait til I have a few things in my cart before checking out). When I click on your link, it just opens up the Amazon page in Safari rather then redirecting me to the app. I want you to be able to get credit or commission since I never would’ve bough the product if it weren’t for you. Idk if there is a fix to this, but I wanted to mention it in case this issue is causing you to miss out on a lot of potential commission.

  6. Wow. This was so much information. It all makes sense now! I was surprised when you rebranded and switched your bee logo for a pacifier.

    I am very private and not sure I could share my own charts on the Internet. Interesting vid.

    1. That’s interesting that you see a pacifier! I never would have picked that out. Isn’t it funny how we see different things in the same images? 🙂

  7. Jen-
    It was very nice of you to share so much about this part of your life. As a nurse, and the mother of two young women, I know how awkward it can be discussing such personal things. You did it very well, and your daughter will benefit from your wonderful delivery of information. (although I don’t think we’re EVER truly prepared for those talks when they come along!) :). I watched the video because my oldest daughter is starting to think about a baby in the next year or so…I will definitely pass along your book recommendations.
    ~Andrea

  8. I cannot thank you enough for this entire post. I’ve been following you for some time now and it just so happens that i really needed some pointers from someone who kinda has been doing it for some time. And also, thank you so much for going as far as showing your personal charts. It helps me tremendously. In fact, i need to find your email so I can properly thank you. 🙂

  9. I just wanted to say, good on you for sharing! I am a midwife here in Australia and it is amazing how many women think that only a doctor should know what a cervix feels like, it is your body – touch which ever bit of it you like!
    Charting is such valuable information and can sometimes be far more accurate than dating scans – another great reason to know the exact ovulation.
    I know it may have felt awkward to share but what a great message and conversation started x

  10. Hi Jen! I was so excited to see this post & video from you! I actually just received Taking Charge of Your Fertility (her latest edition was just released) in the mail a couple days ago and am gearing up to start charting myself. So, thanks so much – you’re a great reference! This stuff is all so interesting to me and I’ve also been wondering how I was so ill-informed! It should definitely be taught! 🙂

    By the way, you look beautiful! There’s something extra pretty about you in this video! You’ve definitely got the glow! 🙂

  11. Hi Jen ! I LOVE ALL of your Videos !! So EXCITED for you & Don and your growing Family!! I used charting also, but not until trying for our 3rd child, as our first 2 children were Boys and we really wanted a girl too (God willing).
    I charted and went off of the information from the Book regarding the “best chances” to try for a girl on timing of conceiving during the fertile stage (toward the end of the fertile period). So using that information from the charting and a lot of Prayers asking for a Girl, we had our Girl !!
    For all 3 of our children,we didn’t find out until Birth what the Gender was. Throughout our 3rd pregnancy, I pretty much convinced myself we were having a 3rd Boy, I even wanted to look into getting a doorbell that sounded like the intro to the old TV Show , “My Three Sons” (I’m aging myself here…lol) , but low and behold, as I gave Birth and the Dr. said, it’s a Girl, you can imagine our elation !! It took awhile for it to set in !! Our Daughter is now 14 and I definitely plan to teach her charting and I have always talked to her about “reading the signs” of her body to learn how her body works.
    Thank YOU for sharing and I look forward to watching your journey into Motherhood !! Probably my biggest advice…there are only so many hours in a day and something has to “give” as one’s Family grows….one can ALWAYS clean etc….but one can NEVER get back each day with your child. Even though the child turning into an adult may seem like a long time in the future, it truly goes by wayyyyy to fast …. Our two boys are now adults and both are currently serving our Country. They both chose that path on their own. We are Very PROUD of them, but it is HARD as a Mom (and Dad) to have Sons in the Service!! GOD BLESS you and your Family Jen !!

  12. I have just started using the Ovia app, and so far I really like it. It will send you daily reports, and you can enter your health for that day, including what you have eaten and how much water you have had. You can enter your mood, track your period, intercourse, and other things as well, even your mood! Plus it is FREE! So far it’s really good!

  13. Hi Jen,thank you so much for sharing — it’s such a sensitive and personal topic and I was impressed with your honesty and frankness in your video! I agree that it is an essential part of health that we women should track, and I think I will begin as well.

    I’m curious whether you made any schedule or lifestyle changes in response to your charting? For example, I suffer from frequent migraines, and I know they are hormone-related as they are most severe/frequent 1-2 days before my period. With that knowledge though, unfortunately I cannot avoid work or other responsibilities…the only adaptation I’ve ever made is to skip my run those days. Any advice on your own personal experience (e.g., with cycle-related headaches and digestive issues) would be appreciated!

    Thanks as always for sharing and for letting us be part of your life. Best of luck with the growing bump, and for a healthy remainder for your pregnancy!

    1. I was encouraged by one of my health practitioners to lay off hot baths and intense exercise during my luteal phase, but that wasn’t directly related to my charting.

  14. This video is SO great. I am someone who is JUST starting TTC but I KNOW that because I have PCOS among a bunch of other things it is not going to be easy. I have ben SO overwhelmed by all of the information regarding charting, all the acronyms, and just everything… it has been crazy trying to research it and my head is spinning. This video is such a great starting point and I am so thankful to you for putting yourself out there to help explain this process to us new people in such a direct and concise fashion. Thank you so, so, so much <3

  15. TCOYF was my fertility bible for 10 years as we worked to conceive our first. I love that book! The stuff in that book are the kinds of things *every* woman should know. I was floored that it was something we’re not taught about like we’re taught about our periods and everything else about our bodies! I’m teaching my girls (my oldest is 12 and just started this past year) how to tell what their bodies are doing.

  16. I want to thank you for this wonderful article. I think the same as you, this is something every women should know. Not only to get pregnant, the same impotant thing is NOT to conceive.
    For those of your readers, which are not native english speakers like me this book might be a little bit comlicated to read. There are a book in german “natürlich und sicher” which was translated in other langueges.

  17. Jen, I watched this video when you first posted it and again today (since we just started TTC this month). 🙂 Your delivery is excellent…concise yet conversational. It’s about time women started discussing these things without giggling or being embarrassed (we aren’t 11 anymore!). It’s important that we realize we don’t all follow a certain pattern or fit into a certain mold (not only with our cycles but with everything in general). Thanks again for sharing your journey. I am charting as well as using OPK tests (I figure it doesn’t hurt to try a few methods to figure things out). I’m currently reading the newest edition of TCOYF (it has several new chapters in it) and also just read The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant (highly recommend it). I’m charting using two apps, but I’m so visual I think I will print out a paper chart like you did. I have a question for you…did you continuing taking your BBT throughout the beginning of your pregnancy or did you stop at some point? Just curious as I’ve read a few different reasons to continuing temping versus stopping when you get the positive pregnancy test. Thanks again for sharing!

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