MY FAVOURITE WAY TO TRACK MY CYCLEOct 26, 2022
TRACKING YOUR MENSTRUAL CYCLE*
*without an app
You may have read my previous blog post on why I don't recommend period apps. If you haven't, you can check it our here.
As I mentioned in that post, apps are a useful secondary resource, but nothing will be as accurate as listening to your bodily cues.
Our bodies are in constant communication with us, whether it's pain, discharge, temperature or anything else; and when we learn to read and understand the language of our bodies, we no longer feel like a stranger in our own skin. Things start to make sense.
Natural methods of fertility awareness are not only useful to prevent or plan for pregnancy but they are a beautiful way to stay in communication with your body and become more in tune with your cyclical nature. In my experience, this relationship gets deeper and deeper with time.
1. The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM).
Here's my favourite way to map my cycle. The fertility awareness method, or sometimes referred to as the sympto-thermal method.
FAM utilises three concrete signs of fertility: basal (resting) body temperature, cervical fluid and cervix position.
Did you know you're only fertile for 5-6 days each cycle?
You are fertile the five days before ovulation (because that's how long sperm can survive in your body) and one day after ovulation (because that's how long the egg can survive).
Here's how we track:
BASAL BODY TEMPERATURE (BBT):
Check your waking temperature from under the tongue, before you get out of bed or drink water. Ideally with a thermometer with at least one decimal point (eg 36.5°C).
After ovulation, progesterone becomes the dominant hormone and progesterone has a heating affect on your body.
This means before ovulation your BBT might be between 36.1°C- 36.5°C. After ovulation, your waking temperature increases by about 0.3°C and will stay higher until you bleed again.
This small increase in body temperature is enough to know you ovulated and you cannot conceive for the rest of your cycle.
BBT is a great way to be certain once you're post-ovulation. Tracking your cervical fluid is more useful to know when you're pre-ovulation.
The texture, colour and consistency of your cervical fluid will change depending on what phase you're in.
Right after your period you may experience a few days of dryness.
As you transition into inner-spring and estrogen rises, you might experience fluid that is quite sticky. It can be rubbery, springy and pretty thick. Once you see this fluid, it's a good indicator you're getting closer to your fertile period and if you're not trying to conceive, you may want to use protection.
Next, the moisture content rises. It becomes creamy, runny, milky and more like moisturiser; white and opaque. It can make the entrance of the vagina feel cool.
At ovulation, cervical fluid becomes gooey, slippery and soft. It's often likened to egg white and if you were to hold it between your finger and thumb, it would be stretchy and wet. This is to support the sperm in travelling up to meet the egg. Please note, you may also see this fluid when you have high oestrogen so it's best to combine these bodily cues.
After you've ovulated, as your body heats up from progesterone, your cervical fluid will dry up, becoming pasty and crumbly. It typically has a yellow tinge and can become crusty in your underwear.
Your cervix is the bottom part of the uterus, where the menstrual blood comes out.
The firmness and positioning of your cervix is the the final physical sign of ovulation. Usually, your cervix is low (about a fingers length) and has a firmness like pushing the tip of your nose. In the days before ovulation, your cervix will be higher and slightly softer compared to the rest of your cycle when it's low and firm. You can check your cervix by inserting a clean finger into your vagina and feeling for it.
You can combine these three physical signs with your calendar charting to have a deep insight into where you are in your cycle.
Calendar charting will likely already be a part of your practice if you're taking your temperature daily.
Please note: I will take at least 6 cycles of tracking for you to be able to rely on this method. It's subtle and requires building a relationship with your body.
This is body literacy.
2. One word a day method
If you're less interested in preventing or planning pregnancy, but you'd like to forge a deeper relationship with your body, journaling one-word-a-day to describe how you feel is a great entry way into keeping a menstrual diary and forging a lasting relationship with your cycle. Especially if you're someone who doesn't feel naturally inclined to put pen to paper.
The idea is that you figure out which day of your cycle you're on—you can do this by tracking back in your calendar which was the day you began your last period; that's your day one and you count forward from there—then each day, you can begin by just documenting one word to describe how you're feeling. Maybe somedays, it's three words. Maybe somedays, it's simply a happy/sad face.
It can be as simple or complex as you make it.
But it's you, checking in with yourself each day.
We learn to listen to our bodies. We are in communication with ourselves. And from this, we learn about ourselves more deeply.
3. Journaling method
Using the same journaling prompts consistently means that you have a clear insight into your changes each day. It's like doing the same meditation practice daily. Or the same yoga asana practice. We can notice the fluctuations in our bodies and minds. It's not the yoga/journaling/meditation that changes, it's you.
1. Which day of my cycle am I on?
2. Which phase/season am I in?
3.How is my energy level today?
4.How is my physical body today?
5.How is my emotional body today?
6. What can I do to support myself today?
Again, not a method that revolves around preventing or planning pregnancy, but a useful practice to deepen your relationship to your body and cycle.
Even though I don't recommend relying on apps, they are a useful secondary resource for when life gets busy and you lose track.
We're all only human and I would be lying if I said I kept on top of all of these things all of the time.
I am however, in constant communication with my body.
In learning to read and understand her language, I feel more at home in my skin that ever before.
And that's big as someone who suffered from disordered eating for so many years.
If you want to learn more about body literacy and learning to love your cycle, have a look at ORBITAE. My online, self-paced, menstrual cyclical living course.
Or email me to have a chat, I always love hearing from you.
WOULD YOU LIKE A FREE YIN YOGA CLASS?
Leave your email here to receive your free yin class directly to your inbox plus exclusive access to blog posts and other offers before the rest.
Your email is safe with me.