10 Good Reasons to Chart Your Monthly Cycles

The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) typically involves keeping track of your daily basal body temperature and cervical mucus consistency, and can include monitoring cervical position and other possible signs of fertility. It is most often thought of as a way to help achieve or avoid pregnancy, but there are actually many benefits that all women of childbearing age can experience. Some of these include:
  1. Having a deeper understanding and feeling of connection to your body. Understanding your unique hormonal profile and rhythms can be very empowering. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature and you become much more in tune to all the subtle signs and signals your body gives you.
  2. Learning what cervical fluid is normal and when there might be a problem. For years I thought I might have a candida problem due to a lack of understanding what was normal vaginal discharge; I thought it was dirty and a sign that something was wrong until I learned the normal stages of cervical fluid (i.e. dry, sticky, creamy, watery, egg white).
  3. Knowing exactly when to expect your period can give you a lot of freedom. Even if you have irregular periods, since the luteal phase (the period after ovulation) is consistent for most women, once you've ovulated you can accurately predict the onset of menses.
  4. Alerting you to potential problems and changes with your cycle. For example, consistently erratic temperatures can signify a thyroid problem, patches of fertile cervical fluid not followed by ovulation can point to ovarian cysts, while a luteal phase of less than 11 days can suggest progesterone deficiency and a propensity to miscarriage. Charting will also let you know if you are in fact ovulating.
  5. Helping diagnose when there is a problem. Sharing charting results with your health care expert can be a great tool to help determine a course of action.
  6. It can give you peace of mind once you have conceived. While a significant dip in temperatures after conception can signify impending miscarriage, continued elevated temps can let you know everything is going along smoothly. I find that knowing my temperature is still high in the beginning weeks of pregnancy helps me relax more during the day.
  7. It is an easy and reliable method of birth control. It may take a few weeks to get into the habit of taking daily waking temperatures and then a few cycles to get a clear picture of overall patterns, but after that it's easy sailing; it takes just minutes a day. Furthermore, when properly used, FAM is 98.5% effective as a birth control method.
  8. It is very inexpensive - just the cost of a basal thermometer!
  9. It is non-invasive; there are no side effects from artificial hormones, latex irritations, or implants to contend with.
  10. And, finally, it pinpoints your fertile time so you can time sexual intercourse to maximize your chances of conceiving or avoiding pregnancy.
There is a wonderful website - http://www.fertilityfriend.com - which offers a FREE 20-lesson course on fertility and charting basics, teaching you everything you need to know and then some. They also offer FREE basic charting software; you plug in your daily waking temperature and cervical fluid consistency and they calculate your coverline, luteal phase, and most fertile period for you, virtually removing any chance for human error. It's really an invaluable resource and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to get to know their natural rhythms and cycles better.

Happy charting!

Would you like to use this article in your e-zine or website? You may, as long as you include the following information: Writer and "mompreneur" Ardis Henson is a weekly contributor to "Raw Mom", an inspirational blog and online resource for moms interested in natural methods for enhancing fertility, handling pregnancy symptoms, managing ADD/ADHD and other learning disorders, homeschooling, yoga, healthy recipes, romance tips and MORE! Check out http://www.RawMom.com Sign up for our FREE "Raw Mom Tidbits" and get juicy words of wisdom, recipes, and inspiration delivered regularly to your mailbox!
By Ardis Henson
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