Charting? Why yes once upon a time, (many many years ago) I didn’t even know there was such a thing! I simply kept track of my Menstrual Cycles by counting up 4 weeks from my first day of a regular Flo – (the lovely Period as most would call it) and then circling the day on my Calender. (This was of course BEFORE we had the luxury of smart phones where we could utilize Menstrual Cycle Tracking APPS) Sometimes I would put a frowney face on it, always knowing what it meant. But aside from doing it the old-fashioned way – it wasn’t until I had turned 21 and decided that I wanted to be a mother! This was back in 2004, the Internet had just started to be a huge thing! At that point, most everyone (including myself) had it. Needless to say after a few cycles of (NOT PREVENTING Pregnancy and unfortunately NOT ACHIEVING Pregnancy either) – that’s when I decided to do some research! (Good ol’ trusty Dr. Internet!) Ha Ha
To my surprise, there were all kinds of ways to improve your odds on achieving Pregnancy! Charting, was one of them. (I found this really wonderful FREE Charting website and you can view My Charting Homepage here) I started reading about BBT’s (Basal Body Temperature – your temp after a solid block of at least 3 hours of sleep upon waking before doing anything else) Essentially I learned that when taking your temp each morning, you just want to open your eyes and immediately insert the Thermometer (orally or vaginally) with as little movement as possible since that can cause your temperature to rise and therefore wouldn’t be as accurate. You will also want to use a special kind of thermometer called a BBT (Basal Body Thermometer which are inexpensive and you can find very easily at a drugstore or even online). So for example instead of reading a temp that may be at 98.6° on a NORMAL FAHRENHEIT Thermometer that only reads (3 digits), it is a bit more sensitive and can read that same temperature at 98.63° (4 digits) and is able to record slight fluctuations. From the first day of your Menstrual Period until Ovulation has occurred, that is considered to be the FP (Follicular Phase). Your temps are generally a lot lower prior to Ovulation due to a Hormone called Estrogen.
I’m sure you’ve heard someone in your family tell you that Ovulation usually occurs on Day 14 of your cycle, about a week after your Period ends, right? Well – that’s ONLY on a 28 day cycle that would be considered practically PERFECT in every way! (Like Mary Poppins Ha Ha) Nope, every woman’s cycle(s) are different. Cycle lengths can vary significantly with each individual during the FP and although the LP (Luteal Phase) tends to be the same from month to month give or take a day or two, the length itself can vary from woman to woman! On average the LP tends to be between 10-16 days.
During your cycle, you can also record your CM (Cervical Mucus) as well as your CP (Cervical Position). The easiest way to check this is by observing the fluid once you’ve wiped while looking at your tissue paper. If you tend not to succeed with that method, (which isn’t uncommon) you can also do it another way! Once you’ve washed your hands with antibacterial soap (to avoid infection) – gently insert two fingers into your vagina, proceeding to scoop a bit of CM on or near your cervix. Once you’ve done that you can then begin to observe it. Feel the texture, is it stretchy by 1-2cm between your index finger and your thumb? Is it only slightly stretchy? Does it break easily? Does it feel smooth? Silky? Watery? Paste-like? Or Does it crumble easily? Also, note the color. Some of the most fertile EWCM appears to be tinged with pink or even with blood. Some can even appear to be brown! (Mid-cycle spotting is also common just prior to Ovulation). CM usually will appear to be dry or sticky following your Period. As Ovulation nears it will be a bit more fertile, watery perhaps, following with the MOST fertile which is EWCM (Egg White Cervical Mucus) the name itself is somewhat self-explanatory. It resembles raw egg whites! It’s very similar to semen so that they can journey from the penis to the Vaginal canal very easily while also being nourished. They can live up to 5 days in fertile CM! Not every woman may get EWCM, so it’s important to note your most firtle which simply could be watery and is very alkaline. Once Ovulation occurs you can expect to have a few days of dry or sticky CM again that will usually increase to a thick, lotion-like consistency which is extremely acidic and not considered fertile.
Onto CP (Cervical Position) it’s much the same as charting & recording your Cervical fluid patterns. (It is recommended to check your CP at the same time everyday as it can change positions throughout the day, and you can also check it at the same time you’ve checked your CM) although with CM you’ll want to check that several times a day while only recording the most fertile! Throughout your cycle the cervix changes. During your most non fertile times it will be low for menstrual flow, and feel a bit like the tip of your nose whereas just days prior to your Ovulation you may notice that it’s a bit higher and softer. You may also observe that it’s slightly open, and that’s to allow the sperm to enter into the cervix. It may feel like your lips and sort of spongy to the touch. Immediately after Ovulation it will usually go back to being a Low, Firm & Closed Position.
So that now brings us to the LP (Luteal Phase) the time from Ovulation until either you achieve Pregnancy OR AF (Aunt Flo) rears her ugly face. Yes, your next Period. You can usually confirm that Ovulation did in fact occur with a Temperature rise. So during your FP if your temperatures (say for example) ranged in the 97.00-97.50’s you could confirm Ovulation by recording 3 days of higher temps say in the 98.00-98.50’s range or even higher. So on the actual chart itself, you’ll see a secondary thermal shift! If you’ve achieved Pregnancy, you’ll usually maintain your higher temps due to Progesterone which is a heat inducing Hormone responsible for the LP. Sometimes between 4-5dpo you can observe a Temperature drop from the Corpus Luteum, sometimes around 7-10dpo (Days Past Ovulation) you can also see another Temperature dip known as an “Implantation Dip,” along with some spotting, (which can be rare) and on some you might see a 3rd shift in higher temperatures which is known as a “Triphasic Pattern.”
So now that you know the basics here are a few example Charts from your Royalties collection herself! Lol
This is an example of a Chart that shows the NORMAL BIPHASIC PATTERN!
This is an Example of a Chart that resulted in Pregnancy! It had CLIMBING TEMPERATURES and no spotting, and I tested way past 12-13dpo.
This is an example of another chart that resulted in Pregnancy, except it had a TRIPHASIC PATTERN!
This is an example of a very PROMISING LOOKING CHART, that had some spotting and a dip 7-10dpo that DID NOT result in Pregnancy!
Lastly, this is an example of a chart with very ERRATIC TEMPERATURES! Which is WHY it’s important to temp either orally or vaginally throughout your cycle the same way. Also be sure to do it at the same time each day!
So as you can see, there are many reasons to chart. One of the main would be to TRY AND CONCEIVE A BABY! Another would be to TRY AND PREVENT CONCEPTION, as well as simply the best way to PINPOINT EXACTLY WHEN YOUR PERIOD WILL ARRIVE! Generally if you do not achieve Pregnancy, Estrogen will then kick back in and cause a huge drop in your temps which usually indicates you can expect to start your Period the day of, the following day, or possibly within a couple of days from that point!