Do you never know when you're going to get your period? Do you have no idea how to tell when you're ovulating, or why it even matters to bother trying to figure it out? Did you know that you're not actually fertile every day of the month? Pregnancy is not a possibility any and every day of the year. Women have infertile periods of time during each monthly cycle. There is a foolproof way to figuring out when both your fertile and infertile times are, and to know when your period is coming...
It's honestly shameful that we are not taught this information growing up and in school. Especially when many times, girls get their first period before they even become a teenager; I did! I started mine when I was 11. Thankfully, my mother was always very open with me about what to expect, so it wasn't a huge or terrifying shock to me when I did get it. It took me until I was 27 years old to learn how to properly monitor and chart my cycles, though. I'd always had a general idea of when my period was coming, but based on nothing more than how many days in length my previous few cycles had been. This is not always the greatest thing to go by. The amazing book Taking Charge of Your Fertility (don't let the name scare you off) shows you how simple it is to begin practicing the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM).
The first thing you need to do is definitely the easiest: start taking your temperature first thing every morning, before you get out of bed. You need a basal body thermometer for this. (This is the thermometer I use, it works incredibly well and is a very affordable less than $10. I see some negative reviews for it, but I've been using it for over 10 months and it's never let me down.) Why this specific kind? It's more precise than a regular thermometer, within a tenth of a degree. And basal body temperature just means the baseline temperature of your body at rest. The reason you measure your BBT is to keep a record of your low temps that you will see during your period and ovulation, and then your thermal shift of .3 degrees or more into higher temps after ovulation has occurred. For example: during your period and ovulation, your temperature may be somewhere between 97.1-97.6; after ovulation has occurred, you can expect to see the temperature increase to 97.7-98.2 or higher. Once higher temps of at least .3 degrees have been observed for 3 days, and your cervical fluid has dried up (more on that in a minute), ovulation has occurred and you are infertile until after you get your next period.
The second thing you need to do is: after you finish your period, begin paying attention to and recording the quantity and consistency of your cervical fluid at the front of the cervix (the opening of the uterus) in your vagina. Sound complicated? Just gently press deep back when you wipe each time you pee throughout the day, and look at what's on the toilet paper. That's it! The more slippery, stretchy, and more of it there is, the closer you are to ovulating; the gummier, stickier, and less of it there is, the further. Typically, after your period you will either have a few dry days, where there will be no or not much of any cervical fluid, or a few days of minimal, sticky, infertile quality fluid. After these first few days, around day 8 or 9 (the first day of your period is day 1), you will start to notice an increase in the amount and quality of your cervical fluid. Each day there will be more, and it will become increasingly slippery until you ovulate, and then pretty rapidly dry up after. This drying up should be compared with your daily basal body temps, so you will be able to see, once your temperature spike coincides with a lack of cervical fluid, you know that you are done ovulating and in your infertile period. Pretty cool! *After three consecutive days of both high temps and dryness, you are infertile, and it is considered safe to have intercourse without the risk of pregnancy.*
The Fertility Awareness Method is a wonderful means of natural birth control without the use of synthetic hormones. It is also incredibly useful for pregnancy achievement, as you are always aware of when you are most and least fertile. And if you do indeed conceive, by tracking your cycles you will know far sooner than you would ever even think of taking a pregnancy test to find out. Your series of post-ovulatory high temps will continue past your missed period. After a clearly documented ovulation (if you had a delayed ovulation, or did not ovulate, this does not apply), typically around the 16-18th consecutive day of high temps is when you can confirm you have achieved pregnancy this cycle. This is before women usually even start to think much of, or notice their period being late. For so little effort, you get to be so meticulously aware of your cycle that you can quickly notice this and any other kinds of irregularities. Having this knowledge in your hands is powerful!
If you want to learn more, Taking Charge of Your Fertility has all the details laid out and explained so clearly, it is so easy to understand and immediately begin implementing. Finally learning about something that is such a presence (and often nuisance) for so much of our lives is incredibly empowering. It's so important to be your own advocate for your health. Don't be in the dark any longer about understanding and charting your cycle, read this book! And download and print out the monthly charts for free at tcoyf.com. I promise this is not difficult stuff, everything will become so clear to you as you read, and the peace of mind this brings you is incomparable. Seriously, do yourself the favor of getting this book and learning more about the Fertility Awareness Method, you'll wonder how you ever got by without it. I'm still in awe all the time; I don't know how I managed before! I can assure you though, if I have a daughter one day, she too will be reading this book. I encourage you to learn too, and to share this information with all the females in your life.
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