Charting your cycle for the first time is both exciting and overwhelming. Exciting, because you are about to take charge of your health and overwhelming because you realize just how complex the female reproductive system is.
For all of you who are considering starting your charting journey, below are three important things to keep in mind when diving into the ins and outs of the menstrual cycle.
1.) YOU WONT SPOT A PATTERN RIGHT AWAY.
It is unlikely that when charting your first cycle you will discover the fertile times and infertile times in your cycle. Quite frankly, you may spend your first cycle remembering to chart every day. Developing the habit of keeping track of your fertility signs can be tedious, and with busy work days and hectic home lives, charting is sometimes the last thing on our minds.
So really, the first thing to focus on when beginning to chart is consistency. Set reminders for yourself, so that you know that at the end of each day you should be taking the time to ask yourself these questions; how did I feel today? Wet, dry, warm, cold? What did I see today? Blood, discharge, nothing? Once you are successfully asking yourself these questions every day and answering them well, then you can start asking yourself: okay, what patterns am I seeing?
2.) NEVER COMPARE YOUR CYCLE TO SOMEONE ELSE’S CYCLE.
Another trap we can fall into when we begin charting is comparing our charts to the charts we see in textbooks and to the charts of other women who we know have healthy cycles. While it is important to use healthy cycles as a reference point for our own, we have to make sure that we don’t put our cycle in a box. When we do so, we run the risk of diagnosing ourselves with some kind of fertility issue when there is really nothing wrong with us.
Each and every woman will ovulate at a different time in her cycle, some will ovulate very early on and others will ovulate a little later on in their cycle. It is even normal for the same woman to notice that her ovulation day varies from cycle to cycle. This variety that we see in our cycles speaks to the beauty of God’s creation. He has made each and every one of us so beautifully, that every woman’s fertility blossoms in its own specific way.
3.) PLEASE DON’T OVERTHINK IT.
Even without overthinking, charting is difficult. That is why I beg all of you reading this – don’t make life harder by constantly second guessing your charting ability! When you second guess you charting ability this is when your ability to spot patterns crumbles.
If you are constantly going back and forth to your cycle and changing observations that you made or unable to come to a decision as to what your observation for that day will be, you are left with a chart that makes no sense. Your fertility teacher will be unable to read it and you will be unable to clarify it, because you are not confident in what the truth of your observation is.
A good way to counteract the overthinking, is forcing yourself to write down the first answer that comes to mind when you ask yourself an observation question. If you ask yourself whether or not you saw discharge today, and your first thought is yes – write down that you saw discharge. If you ask yourself whether or not you felt dry today, and your first thought is yes – then write down that you felt dry. When we force ourselves to be quick and simple with our charting, we will see the doubt we have about our charting skills dissipate.
We pray that these pointers have helped all of you reading this, no matter where you are on your charting journey!
If you’d like to learn more about the basics of fertility charting, we encourage you to sign up for our 13 week spring semester. For more information, leave your name and contact information on our homepage.