Written by Liza Blake
The world of fertility awareness and charting doesn’t have to be confusing. In today’s blog post, you'll get answers to some of the most common questions we answer about fertility charting.
Is it important to chart cervical mucus?
Yes! Cervical mucus is an incredibly important piece of charting your fertility. Cervical mucus makes it possible for sperm to last more than a few seconds in the naturally-acidic environment of the vagina and female reproductive tract.
The presence of cervical mucus opens your fertile window after your period ends. This is important to know if you're trying to conceive, as well as if you're trying to avoid pregnancy or charting for health. The quality of your cervical mucus can give you insights into your cycle
How do I chart cervical mucus?
Charting mucus may take a few days or weeks to get the hang of, but it comes down to noting a few different qualities in your cervical mucus: color, texture, sensation, and possibly texture. You should note your observations each time you go to the bathroom, and mark the most fertile pattern at the end of the day. To learn more about qualifying and charting cervical mucus, check out this article!
Can I chart if I have irregular cycles?
Yes! Charting with irregular cycles can actually be incredibly helpful. Whether you have PCOS, are postpartum, or have another root cause of your irregular cycles, fertility charting can help you know where you are in your cycle, as well as gain valuable insights. These insights may include how changes you're making are affecting your cycle, if and when you are ovulating, and a whole lot more.
Charting works even with irregular cycles because you're determining your current fertility status, not relying on past cycles to predict your fertility. You'll be able to positively identify ovulation when it happens, rather than simply hoping that ovulation happened.
If I chart LH/OPKs, should I track temperature and cervical mucus too?
Generally, the answer is yes! LH strips (and by extension, OPKs) only give you a very small window before presumed ovulation to avoid intercourse if trying to avoid pregnancy, or get busy if you're trying to become pregnant. Cervical mucus will typically give you 5-8 days of heads up before ovulation in a standard-length cycle (26-30 days). This is important because sperm can live up to 3-5 days in the female reproductive tract with proper cervical mucus present. You can optimize your chances to conceive more by using cervical mucus in addition to LH strips.
You can't confirm ovulation with LH strips, but you can by taking your basal body temperature (BBT). Knowing when you ovulated means you know for sure you are in your two week wait if you're trying to conceive, or are confirmed infertile for the rest of your cycle if avoiding pregnancy.
Why does luteal phase length matter?
Your luteal phase is the time between ovulation and either the start of your next cycle, or a positive pregnancy test. During the luteal phase, your body produces significant amounts of progesterone (and less significant amounts of estrogen). This phase is clearly important for those TTC since it allows you to begin a healthy pregnancy. But it's also important for those who aren't TTC because progesterone is an important hormone to keep your body balanced throughout its natural cycle. A short luteal phase length (fewer than 10 days) means you won't produce enough progesterone for that balance, or enough to allow the fertilized egg to implant successfully if you're TTC.
What is the easiest way to take my temperature?
When taking your basal body temperature with a traditional BBT thermometer, it’s important to take your temperature at the same time each day, before you get out of bed, after at least 3 hours of sleep. For some, it can be challenging to remain consistent especially if you work night shifts or have young children. This is where the Tempdrop shines. With the Tempdrop wearable thermometer, you don’t have to wake up at the same time each day to take your temperature, and you can still get an accurate reading even if you wake up multiple times throughout the night. (Check out this article about how it's helpful for rotating shift workers!)