Menstrual cycle charting is a simple and reliable method of checking ovulation . It can also indicate when there is anovulation (no ovulation)
It has obvious benefits for tracking fertility but is useful for everyone who menstruates, as it’s so empowering to have this intimate relationship with your body.
Did you know a women is fertile for around only 6 days per month. So it’s really important to know when these days are to maximise your chance of conceiving. Charting is a tool that you can use to do this.
It includes taking and recording your waking body temperature (basal body temperature or BBT) each morning. As well as charting the consistency of your cervical fluid and any symptoms you notice, such as breast tenderness, very tiny amount of spotting, slight pelvic discomfort or bloating. Any pain, significant mid-cycle spotting, bleeding or unusual discharge should be investigated.
Sperm can live for 5 days, potentially 7 so you are fertile the 5 days before you ovulate and for 24-48 hours after you ovulate.
Additionally, it can be helpful to check the position of your cervix, if you’re comfortable to do this. Which I’ll explain below.
How to Chart
Firstly, You’ll need a fertility thermometer with 2 decimal points (for Celsius) that goes under the tongue, because you need to take your temperature in bed before you get up, talk or drink and at a similar time each day.
Fertility ones tend to have a memory so you can just take it and doze off again!
Take your temperature every morning as soon as you wake up. You can take it provided you’ve had three hours sleep, so if you’ve had a very broken sleep without three hours together, be aware that it may not be accurate and disregard that temperature.
Charting your temperature will show you after you’ve ovulated. The rise in the hormone progesterone causes your temperature to rise. Therefore, if you ovulate you’ll see a rise in your temperature. There may be a very slight temperature drop before you ovulate but this can be very minimal just 0.something degree so you may miss it.
The rise in temperature after you ovulate which lasts for a few days gives you the day of your cycle that you ovulate. You can then use this day as a guide for your next cycle and subsequent ones to plan intercourse.
Over time time you’ll see a pattern emerging, however the day can fluctuate slightly between cycles. In view of this, I recommend starting daily, or at least alternate day intercourse from day 7 of your cycle (with day 1 being the first day of your period and day 5 or 6 the last day of your bleeding)
You can use basal temperature charts from the internet, or there are apps to chart such as Kinandra, Fertility Friend or Daysy.
As well as charting your temperature, remember to check down below for your cervical fluid consistency, which goes slippier and stringy like egg white when you’re fertile.
Together with temperature, checking your cervical fluid is a really great indicator of fertility to work with. Your cervical fluid becomes wetter and stickier before you ovulate to help transport sperm to your egg. When you’re fertile you’ll probably see your fluid on toilet tissue as you wipe and your may also feel more “in the mood” for sex!
A side note. If you’re seeing this change in cervical fluid very early, or later in your cycle than around days 12-16 it’s worth mentioning to the Dr, as it may indicate a hormonal imbalance such as increased oestrogen or reduced progesterone.
You can also chart your cervical position as an additional check. Usually when you feel inside you’ll feel your cervix quite low and it’ll feel firm like the tip of your nose. When you’re due to ovulate it will be higher and feel softer, you may struggle to reach it.
I recommend sex every day or two from day 7 of your cycle (around one-two days after your period ends) and once you know which day you ovulate, you want to be focusing on having sex two days before and a couple of days at least after you ovulate. Sperm can live for 5 days and even up to 7 days after intercourse, so by ensuring regular sex before ovulation you’ll maximise your changes of hitting the target The best chance of pregnancy is 1-3 days BEFORE ovulation, although you’ll want to continue having regular sex for the days after if possible, just in case you’ve ovulated slightly later.
Regular sex throughout each month is important. Sperm quality reduces after 2-3 days without sex, so regular sex in particular during the follicular (first phase) of your cycle if possible. This is also a way for you and your partner to stay connected and close ️
By the way.. when charting try not to get hung up over individual temperatures, if you have a day that looks “off” it can be due to stress,
illness, drinking alcohol it’s the overall picture you’re looking for ️
Ovulation Strip tests. You can begin to test for luteinizing hormone (LH) from around day 8 of your cycle. This is the hormone responsible for telling your ovary to release an egg (ovulation)
When the test reads positive you will usually ovulate within the next 36-40 hours. Don’t worry if you don’t see the surge, they can have inaccuracies but you may find them helpful along with monitoring your other signs.