Have you just begun the conception roller coaster?
Or perhaps you’re looking for additional ways to help increase your chances of conception.
It’s amazing what you can learn about your own body with just a little bit of research.
You can even help your body to conceive sooner, simply by charting your cycle each month.
The benefits of charting your cycle are huge.
For little effort, you can discover your most fertile times and least fertile times.
You may even be able to accurately predict ovulation, and know the early signs your body will give to indicate a pregnancy.
Charting is a daily activity, where you record bodily observations.
These observations can reveal some little clues as to what your cycle is doing.
Your fertility signs can be detected with the following tools and methods:
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.
Keeping a close eye on the cervical mucus your body produces can help you spot fertility indicators.
The type of mucus you observe can be recorded on your chart and matched to other fertility observations.
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, oestrogen.
Following a period, cervical mucus will typically be dry or non-existent. It will then become sticky, then creamy, then watery, before becoming it’s most fertile state of clear and stretchy.
This clear, stretchy cervical mucus is 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 work almost identically to a pregnancy test.
But instead of detecting the pregnancy hormone, hCG, it detects a hormone present at ovulation – luteinising hormone (LH).
LH surges to high levels when a developing egg follicle reaches a certain size.
Your LH surge is important, because it triggers ovulation.
If present, a LH surge indicates you’ll likely be ovulating in the next 24-48 hours.
A positive result on an ovulation test kit means it’s a great time to step away from screens, and go snuggle under the covers with your partner!
Adding a positive ovulation test result to your chart can further refine the expected date of ovulation.
Saliva Ovulation Microscope
Ovulation microscopes like the highly popular MaybeBaby ovulation tester 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.
It signals ovulation when your saliva looks like it’s ferning.
This ferning pattern does not happen at other infertile times.
Saliva microscopes tend to 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 An App
Online charting software and 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 online, instead of a bit of paper (like we used to do in the olden days, ha!).
There may be some cycle lingo to learn, but it doesn’t take long and you’re a pro.
For example, day one of your period is CD1 (cycle day 1). It’s best to start charting on CD1.
DPO means days past ovulation.
In the BellyBelly Forums (which is now closed) you can read plenty of discussions in the charting your cycle forum.
You might also like to check out the website, My Beautiful Cervix.
My Beautiful Cervix was created by a woman who took photos of her cervix throughout her cycle, so you can see daily cervical changes for yourself.
It’s a great way to see and understand what’s going on with your cervix throughout your cycle, and what you need to look out for.
All the best with charting your cycle, and may it help you achieve a faster pregnancy!