Welcome to my very first series! I thought it would be fitting to make the first series about one of the first steps through TTC, pregnancy, birth and parenting. You may have heard people talk about charting, using abbreviations such as BD, BFP & the LC, talking about their apps and ovulation. But what does all of this mean? In this series we will talk about the different aspects of charting, which is to great advantage of every woman, TTC or not, to understand what your body is doing.
Basically, Charting is tracking your reproductive/fertility cycle. This includes tracking periods, but is also so much more. Really getting into charting can help you pinpoint the day of ovulation, the length of your luteal cycle, the period of fertility and can help you identify if you have a problem that can affect your fertility, or if there are steps you can take to increase fertility. Charting can also be used in NFP, Natural Family Planning, to avoid pregnancy, or just to get to know your body!
The first step (or one of them) is to find a good app to chart with. I am a hard-copy type of person, so I also write down my steps in a notebook, but an app is really helpful in pinpointing ovulation, and ease of entering and extracting information. There are two very popular fertility apps (I’m sure there are many many more as well).
- The first one is Ovia, which many women swear by and has a very complex series of questions you can use to track all signs and symptoms throughout the month. For me personally, Ovia is soo slow and hard to quickly add information to on my phone, so I don’t use it.
- The second is Fertility Friend. Now, there is a free version with limited abilities and a paid version (you get to start with a trial) that has tons of information, analytics, etc etc. Personally, the free version is enough for me, someday if I may feel the need to pay and upgrade for all the features, it’s not terribly expensive. Fertility Friend is super easy for quickly entering your BBT (Basal Body Temperature) which is a big plus for me! We will cover Fertility Friend in another post in the series.
There are a lot of things that you can do to chart. In my opinion the #1 thing you need to do is chart your BBT, or Basal Body Temperature. This is your body’s resting temperature and needs to be taken at the same time everyday, and after a few hours (at least) of uninterrupted sleep. Basically, go to bed at a reasonable time, then set an alarm for the same time everyday, and before you even sit up, talk to your spouse or your dog, reach for your thermometer and take your temperature. (Again, we’ll cover more specifics in a following post.)
Another important factor is CM, or cervical mucus. Your CM changes throughout your cycle, certain types are a sign of your fertile period, and dry CM (or lack of basically) usually means that you are not in the fertile period. This is very important, but hard for me, I can never seem to find the correct type of CM, and BDing (baby dancing, or…sex!) can mess up your mucus. This is a more detailed process, it may need a whole blog post to itself.) Along the same lines of CM is cervix position. This means charting how high or low your cervix is, as well as if it is open, closed, soft or hard. This is difficult for a lot of people, and it takes time to know your own body, to be able to detect the changes.
Another step is using OPKs, (ovulation prediction kits) to test when you are ovulating. These track the LH (luteinizing hormone), which indicates ovulation. I find these difficult; they cost money (never good when you have them, and want to pee on 3 a day) and some women, and even cycle to cycle, can either miss their LH surge, or can show positive results for days. Both, not very helpful.
It is also important to chart other personal symptoms, such as cramps, headaches, tenderness so you can look back and see what symptoms you had when.
Lastly, an important factor to chart is when you BD! That is very helpful to help detect infertility problems, (are you BDing in the fertile window?) as well as help with detecting pregnancy.
There’s so, so, so much more. We will cover many more aspects of charting in this series including how and why to take your BBT, how to check your cervical mucus and what you’re looking for, fertility friend, examing your chart, and more!
Have questions? Leave me a comment or ask me on Twitter! @CopperPink71