Charting Your Cycle
If you really want to understand how your body works and learn what is normal for you, you need to chart your cycle. If you keep accurate records it will help your doctor identify any medical problem you may have. Charting is also very useful if you are trying to get pregnant as it will help you identify your most fertile time.
You can download a fertility awareness chart from the internet or get some from your GP or local Family Planning Clinic. Once you have one you can just copy the blank sheet so you have a new one each month.
It's very important to know that day 1 of your cycle is the first day of your period. The chart will have a column for each day of your cycle starting at day 1 and continuing up to day 40 and beyond. Mark your cycle on the chart and start a new chart when your period starts again. And don't forget to date the chart at the top and record your cycle length. This will enable you to see any changes in your cycle from month to month.
What Can You Record
On the chart you can record a wealth of information for each day of your cycle in just a few minutes in a very simple way using symbols or colours to show any or all of the following
· how many days you bleed, how light or heavy you are, the blood colour
· spotting - mid cycle or other spotting can sometimes indicate problems
· any pain - including breast pain, period pain or even headaches and migraines
· type of cervical mucus -this will help you identify when you are ovulating
· when you have sex
· colds or other illness
· any vaginal discharges or infections - like candida or STD's
· stress - this can affect your cycle and delay ovulation and thus your period
· your basal body temperature - this will also help you know when you are about to ovulate
· ovulation pain - or mittelschmertz -some women actually feel a pain when they are ovulating, which normally alternates from one side to the other each month, as usually only one ovary releases an egg each month
· cervix position - as you are about to ovulate your cervix moves high up into your vagina, becomes softer and the os or opening opens right up
· PMS symptoms like bloating or food cravings
· if you are breast feeding
· what type of contraception you are using - if any
· if you are trying to get pregnant or trying to avoid pregnancy
Conception Or Contraception
Charting is very useful if you are trying to get pregnant as it will help you to see when you are ovulating. It is one of the first things doctors ask you to do if you are having problems getting pregnant.
Natural family planning relies on charting and abstinence from sex for 10 days or so a month around your fertile time to avoid pregnancy. This requires a lot of discipline and is therefore really only a suitable method of contraception for people who are trying to space their children, rather than avoid pregnancy altogether. If you are interested in learning this method contact a Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness advisor.