Perhaps you've just begun the conception roller coaster, or maybe you're looking at ways to help increase your chances at conception.
Read on – because it’s amazing what you can learn about your own body, and even help it to conceive by simply charting your cycle each month.
The benefits of charting your cycle are huge.
For a little effort, you can really get to know your body, your most fertile times and least fertile times.
You may even learn to accurately predict when you might ovulate and know the signs your own, unique body will give to indicate a pregnancy.
Charting is a daily activity, where you record observations made by your body, which may tell you some little clues as to what your cycle is doing. The main fertility signs involved which most
charts are based on include the following:
BBT or Basal Body Temperature
When charting, it is best to take your temperature first thing in the morning before you get up. It’s important to take this temperature at the same time everyday, with the same thermometer, after three hours of uninterrupted sleep. While this is not always possible, there is no need to worry if you forget or have a bad chart day! I fell pregnant with my second child on my first charted cycle, with lots of interrupted sleep and some irregular time taking!
When you purchase a thermometer, the best one to buy is a BBT (basal body temperature) thermometer, which you can see here.
It's important to use the same thermometer at the same time each day, to recognise your body’s fluctuations, you’ll be fine.
This may sounds strange to some, however keeping a close eye on the cervical mucus your body produces can help you. It's a great fertility indicator which you can use when charting.
If you feel uncomfortable checking your mucus, that’s fine, however the more methods you include in your chart, the more accurate it may be. It's important to become comfortable and acquainted with your body, especially as it goes through the journey of conception, pregnancy, childbirth and beyond.
Cervical mucus changes with the fluctuations of your hormones, for example, the hormone oestrogen.
Following a period, cervical mucus will typically be dry before becoming sticky, then creamy, then watery before becoming it’s most fertile state of clear and stretchy. It's referred to as egg white cervical mucus (EWCM). This form of mucus best supports the sperm on it’s passage to the egg.
To read more about cervical mucus observations, please read our article here.
If you're breastfeeding, especially in the early months, you may have little to no mucus production. The hormones produced during breastfeeding suppress ovulation, which may result in dryness.
Over time as your hormones build back up, you will notice increased mucus production, which is a sign that fertility is returning.
Ovulation Prediction Kits (OPK’s)
Ovulation prediction or test kits can be purchased online, from your pharmacy or supermarket.
They work just like a pregnancy test, but instead of testing for hCG, it measures your levels of LH. If present, it indicates you'll likely be ovulating in the next 12-48 hours.
A positive result on an ovulation test kit means it's a great time to step away from screens and snuggle under the covers with your partner!
Saliva Ovulation Microscope
Ovulation microscopes are handheld mini-microscopes. They enable you to observe the microscopic picture of a dry saliva sample.
By observing your saliva's crystallisation, it helps to determine the ovulation period, when the saliva appears to look like ‘ferning,’ unlike other infertile times.
These have mixed reviews so do your research when choosing one.
The position of your cervix changes throughout your cycle which can give you further clues to your fertility.
It may take a little time for you to become familiar with the different positions, so give yourself a little time to learn. It’s going to be difficult to know the very first time if your cervix is high or low.
A low, hard, dry and closed cervix is least fertile.
A high, soft, wet and open cervix is most fertile.
Checking the position of your cervix is best done at the same time each day, due to changes which occur throughout the day.
Charting online or with mobile apps have become very popular.
It does a great deal of the work for you, and stores your information in your profile. You just need to enter in your observations.
There may be some lingo to learn, but it doesn’t take long and you’re a pro. Just ask any of our very friendly TTC’ers in our conception forums! For example, day one of your period is CD1 (cycle day 1). It's best to start charting on CD1.
Also in the BellyBelly Forums, you can join in on our charting your cycle forum. You’ll find plenty of help to interpret and suggest ideas by more experienced charters. Here are some cycle charts for successful conception.
There is also a discussion about My Beautiful Cervix which is a website where a woman has taken photos of her cervix throughout her cycle, so you can see the changes for yourself. Its very graphic, but a great way to see and understand what’s going on with your cervix throughout your cycle.
All the best with charting your cycle and may it help you achieve a faster pregnancy!