This is an example of some cycle charting, using a simple common calender. This example also demonstrates how to correctly count your cycle. I have used my own cycle to illustrate how it is done.
Update: Currently, I use protection as soon as my period is done, as time has gone by, my personal cycle has shortened somewhat, and I've had to make adjustments to compensate for that. My cycles now vary between 24 and 29 days, occassionally a little longer. Please keep in mind, these calendars also have the benefit of hindsight. I can figure out when ovulation occured and count back. When ovulation occurs can vary each month, thus changing the days of your cycle that your likely to be fertile. Using a calender alone, is called the Rhythem method, and has a high failure rate due to this reason. You don't want to make contraceptive choices based on educated guesses.
I've used different colors to represent different things, red for notes on menstruation, green representing fertility and any sex occurring on these days is likely to result in pregnancy. Light purple represents my notes on cervical mucus, and dark purple represents sexual activity, with notes on whether or not contraception (birth control) was used. Please keep in mind it is your responsibility to practice safe sex, to protect yourselves from diseases. If you are not in a long-term committed relationship or married, then you should use condoms every time regardless of whether it is a non-fertile day, diseases are transmitted with one sexual contact -- it is important to use condoms every time.
fertile days - includes the days surrounding ovulation, plus a minimum of 7 days before ovulation. The most difficult aspect to using fertility awareness methods is identifying when ovulation will happen.
The main key to success when using fertility awareness methods is having enough safe days before ovulation. Sperm lives for about 3 to 5 days, in rare cases they can live for up to 7 days.
* - signifies the most fertile days of my cycle. These were determined at the end of the cycle looking back. As the a woman's monthly cycle unfolds it is difficult for most women to pin point when ovulation occurs exactly. The only way to pinpoint ovulation to the day is by using a basal thermometer or if you feel, as some women do, a twinge at mid-cycle which is ovulation occurring, this is something most women do not feel happening.
It is important not to rely on mucus signals alone when first learning about your cycle, mucus can often be very confusing, very little of it may appear during the cycle. In the sample calender below, an example of this is given. In the days preceding the arrival fertile mucus I experienced a very dry sensation, uncomfortably dry in fact. Dryness is often associated with non-fertile times during the cycle. This is why it is so important to realize relying on mucus signals alone, especially for the inexperienced puts you at great risk for pregnancy. Even though I felt very dry, with no traces of any mucus, I realized that I had not ovulated yet and that I would soon, and sure enough the fertile mucus arrived on schedule. If I had unprotected sex on either of the dry days, particularly Day 11, I would be setting myself up to conceive.
Continued from cycle calender above
Note: Each month is a little different. It is not uncommon for mucus present to be considerably less than what was described above on the calender. There are some months where I notice only a small amount of fertile mucus, the clear, stretchy kind, there have been cycles, where I would only see a little bit of stretchy mucus, just once. Signs can be subtle, and easily missed, especially when your not sure what you are looking for. A really good book, in addition to the information found on the web site, which can help teach you what you need to know about your cycle. Taking Charge of Your Fertility - The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control and Pregnancy Achievement by Toni Weschler, MPH
- Note: Do not check consistency of cervical fluids when you are sexually aroused, your natural juices can obscure the true mucus reading. Check cervical mucus when you go to the bathroom, check the toilet paper every time you wipe, just get into the habit of it. I've notices in you squeeze you muscles you can help to expel some of the mucus from the vagina, try blowing your nose, the same muscles you use when you blow your nose, or poop are the ones that can push out the cervical mucus, check for mucus following these activities.
- This calender combined with other methods of fertility awareness can be very effective. Combined with mucus observation, Cervical changes, basal thermometer, or fertility testers.
- It is important not to use the calender alone as your sole means of identifying when not to have unprotected sex. The unexpected can happen. You can ovulate at a time you do not expect.
- The most dangerous time to have unprotected sex is before ovulation occurs.
- Its really not that hard to determine when you are fertile, all it takes is a little information and education, once you know what to look for and have found which tools work for you.
- This calender example will work for women who cycle regularly between 27 and 30 days (length of normal menstrual cycle) for cycles which fall outside this range the days will need to be adjusted. For women who cycle regularly, the calender can be very effective as a guide, but needs to be combined with another method to allow you to know when fertility has passed for this cycle.
- Women who have irregular cycles will need to focus more on identifying when they are fertile, if your cycle varies widely, you may want to look into herbs which can help bring your cycle into balance and encourage some regularity.
- When learning to chart your cycle, and learning about your cycle it is important to keep notes, and use as many tools available as you can. Experimenting with different methods of fertility awareness, gives you the opportunity to learn a great deal about your body, and see which methods work best for you. One of my most informational and educational tools was a plastic speculum to view my cervix.
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