Do you want to start charting your cycle, but don’t know where to start? The new year is a great time to start a new habit like fertility charting. Make this the year you begin your charting journey and get in sync with your body and your cycle. Here’s how to start:
1. Find day 1 of your cycle
If you are off hormonal birth control and are naturally cycling, you will be somewhere in your cycle right now. Find out where you are by finding day 1 of your cycle:
- Think back to your last period (The first day of full bleeding) - This was day 1 of your cycle.
- Count forward to today.
- Write down what day of your cycle you are on.
2. Find something to chart on
- Look for something that allows you to record your sleeping temperature (basal body temperature) on a graph. Some people enjoy sitting down at the end of the day to chart their cycle on paper, others prefer the convenience of an app.
- If you decide to use an app, make sure it allows you to mark your coverline, peak day and temperature shift.
- Add additional observations to your chart. Such as, cervical mucus and LH testing. You will chart your fertility signs like cervical mucus at the end of the day, but you can record your temperature on your chart as soon as you wake up.
3. Find something to chart with
If you’re wanting to use the symptothermal method of fertility awareness (tracking your fertility with basal body temperature and cervical mucus), you will need to find a basal body thermometer. Take your basal body temperature at the same time each day, before you get out of bed, and after at least 3 hours of sleep. An oral BBT goes to 2 decimal places.
If you struggle to wake up at the same time each day to take your temperature, you may find Tempdrop helpful! Tempdrop is a wearable thermometer that takes your temperature throughout the night, eliminating the need to wake up at the same time each day to temp.
4. Pick a method
If you want to use fertility awareness correctly, the most important step is finding a method to follow.
There are a few considerations to think about when choosing a method. Consider:
- Are you trying to avoid pregnancy, get pregnant, or chart for health?
- Do you want to learn from a secular or religious method?
- Do you want to incorporate other fertility biomarkers, like LH testing?
There are many different types of fertility awareness methods that use different combinations of fertility markers, different rules to open the fertile window, and different organizational beliefs. The key is to find a method that works for you AND learn it thoroughly.
Some people are successful in teaching themselves, by reading a book like Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Others may want to find a certified fertility awareness instructor to guide them in the process. Whatever you choose, ensure that you understand how to apply the rules of your method before you rely on it for birth control.
5. Make it a habit
Fertility charting, like any practice, is a habit that is cultivated over time. The more you do it, the more it becomes an integral part of your day. While it only takes a couple minutes each day to chart, it might take a little while for it to become an automatic practice.
You can make this process a little easier by:
- setting reminders in your phone,
- leaving sticky notes in your bathroom,
- writing down your motivation to learn fertility charting,
- reminding yourself often,
- getting a partner to remind you, or finding some accountability from a fertility teacher or someone else who is on the same journey as you,
- following some fertility awareness accounts,
- joining a Facebook group.
If you are struggling to wake up at the same time to take your temperature, Tempdrop can help you stick with your habit of charting, eliminating the need to wake up at the same time each morning to temp.
Are you ready to make 2021 the year you start charting? You’ve got this!
Nathalie Daudet is a social worker and FEMM instructor based in Winnipeg, Canada. She discovered fertility awareness after searching high and low for a non-hormonal method of birth control. After learning the magic of fertility awareness and the gift of body literacy, she decided to pursue formal fertility awareness training and share the knowledge of fertility awareness with women looking for a natural birth control option. Fertility Awareness Project is the hub for Nathalie’s FEMM classes in both group and individual formats, online and in person in Winnipeg. If you love this post and would like to thank Nathalie, shop Tempdrop with Nathalie's unique referral link.