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.
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.
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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.
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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