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Fertility Charting: A Beginner's Guide

Katlyn Joy | 8, August 2011


Fertility Charting: A Beginner's Guide

So you've decided it's time to try to conceive and you know the first rule of getting pregnant; timing is everything. In light of this, you will want to understand and know your personal cycles to determine the optimum time for babymaking plans.

When charting your menstrual cycles, you will be tracking four essential elements; your menstrual cycle, your basal body temperature (BBT), your cervical mucus, when you have sexual intercourse and your cervical position.

The key is to be consistent and write down observations, temperatures, and activity each day. Falling behind means guessing at best, and that won't yield helpful results. A fertility chart can help you pinpoint when ovulation is occurring, or might raise questions if you are having problems with ovulation. Fertility charting will also help you once you become pregnant to help determine when you conceived and set a due date for baby.

Keep track of when your period starts, stops and any irregularities should be noted. The first day of your period is actually considered day one of your menstrual cycle. Knowing the average length of your periods and the span between them may help a physician later in looking at any potential problems you have conceiving.

Charting Cervical Mucus

You will also need to become an expert in your personal fluids namely your cervical mucus. Cervical mucus is checked by simply placing a finger near the vaginal opening, whenever you go to the bathroom and note the color, consistency and general appearance.
Your cervical mucus changes throughout your cycle, but how exactly is often a very personal matter varying greatly between women. However here's an overview of what might be expected:

Day 1-5: Your period.
Day 6-9: Mostly dry or little mucus observed.
Day 10-12: Sticky, thick discharge which will increasingly become thinner and less sticky.
Day 13-15: You'll notice the mucus is more clear and thin, possibly stretchy like eggwhites. This is a fertile time cervical mucus-wise.
Day 16-21: The mucus gradually thickens and becomes white and sticky once more.
Day 22-28 The mucus increasingly dries up again.

The thin stretchy mucus is the most hospitable environment for the sperm to navigate through to the egg. Thus noting when this type of mucus typically occurs in your cycle can aid in achieving pregnancy.

Basal Body Temperature

Taking your basal body temperature (BBT) to determine ovulation requires being faithful in taking your temperature, preferably at the exact time each morning when arising and carefully recording the exact temperature on your chart.

Don't eat or drink, go to the bathroom or do anything before getting out of bed and taking this first morning temp. Most women opt to take the temp orally, but you could also take it vaginally or rectally. The important thing is to stick to one method. Again, consistency and attention to detail is paramount.

Most fertility charts have a graph for you to pinpoint your temp each day of your cycle. Make sure you record your temp in the correct place each day. Prior to ovulating a woman's basal body temp is often around 97 to 97.5 degrees F. During ovulation when progesterone is released, the temp will rise by a mere .2 degrees that's why careful temperature taking is necessary. The changes indicating the release of an egg are short-lived and subtle. Because the changes are so small, the importance of keeping track over a number of cycles is helpful rather than just a few months of charting.

As a back up, you may try a home ovulation predictor kit. This home test checks the levels of luteinizing hormone in your urine. The LH surge will predict ovulation occurring in the next 12 hours to 3 days. These kits are considered highly reliable, but not perfect.

When charting for fertility purposes, you have to maintain a schedule, keep the details readable and consistent and be dedicated to keeping it up. The results will help you determine when to time sex, and can help your doctor advise you on when and how you should best time intercourse. It may also provide clues, should conception not occur within several months as it does for the average couple.

Tool: Fertility Chart
Track ovulation, basal body temperature (BBT) and cervical mucus, position, and firmness with Baby Corner's downloadable and printable fertility chart.

Related Articles

Charting Cervix Position

Charting Basics - Cervical Fluid

Charting Basics - Cervical Position

Charting Basics: Basal Body Temperature

Charting Basal Body Temperature: How to Chart Yours


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