Learning to Chart Your Menstrual Cycle for Conception
1. The onset of menstruation- your first day of bleeding is considered Day 1 on your chart. The shedding of the endometrium lining, shows that a pregnancy has not occurred during the previous month and therefore marks the beginning of your follicular phase (the pre-ovulatory phase of your cycle). Your accuracy in noting this date will help to determine the exact timing of ovulation.
2. Cervical Fluid– as ovulation approaches, estrogen levels begin to rise and your uterus secretes cervical fluid. Cervical fluid is a lubricator to help the sperm fertilize the egg and reach the uterus. If ovulation has not occurred, the cervical fluid becomes a nutrient base, allowing sperm to live within a woman’s body for up to five days. In Toni Weschler’s, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, she defines three stages of cervical mucous on the road to conception including sticky (the beginning stage not overly conducive to fertility), creamy (a stage that may support the life of the sperm somewhat) and finally the wet phase, where your cervical fluid takes on an egg white consistency indicating you are most fertile.
3. Your waking temperature– first thing in the morning, before you even get out of bed, take your body’s resting (body basal) temperature with a basal thermometer and note it on your chart. It is most effective if your temperature is taken during the same one hour time frame each day. A shift in temperature of 0.2 to 0.4° Fahrenheit indicates that ovulation may have occurred. If you are pregnant your temperature will remain elevated during your pregnancy.
To begin practicing FAM, download a chart from Toni Weschler’s site and amazing book Taking Charge of Your Fertility.