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Charting Basics

Knowing how to chart your cycle and knowing which phase you are in your cycle is an essential survival skill for all women If you are sexually active you need to know when you are and aren't fertile. If you aren't sexually active, its nice to know those days when you need to give yourself some extra TLC.

Most cycles are 29 days long - a variation of a few days more or less can be quite normal and small variations from cycle to cycle is also normal.

Day 1 of bleeding is referred to as Day 1 of the menstrual cycle. The length of the cycle is measured from Day 1 of one cycle (bleed) to Day 1 of the next cycle (bleed). See diagram on this page http://www.menstruation.com.au/periodpages/chartingcycles.html

Ovulation (when the egg is released) is the most fertile time in your cycle. Ovulation generally occurs 14 days before the next bleed. So for different cycle lengths, ovulation can occur on different cycle days. This is why it is important not to rely too heavily on the rhythm method of counting days - If ovulation is delayed you could mistakenly think you are infertile when you are fertile - use mucus observation with counting the days.

Cycle Length
Probable ovulation Day
25
11
26
12
27
13
28
14
29
15
30
16
31
17
32
18
33
19
34
20
35
21

 

This is a rough guide only, as ovulation can be delayed, for example due to sickness or stress. Some women who have hormonal imbalances can also experience cycles where the post ovulation or luteal phase is shorter than the standard 14 days.

The fertile window starts a few days before ovulation when cervical mucus starts to turn wetter and more profuse. When looking at mucus changes it is important to remember that each woman has a different experience of these changes. One woman may get the really wet mucus, another woman may experience mucus that is less wet. Maybe for you, the change is in quantity of mucus or colour. The important thing is, when you chart and observe you will start to see your own individual pattern. And it is this individual pattern that will give you clues about what your body is doing.

Picking the right charting method suit you is the key to successful charting. Being aware of why you are charting is also important. If you are wanting to conceive then your method of charting will be far more comprehensive than another woman who just needs to know when her period is next due.

Getting started - Its as simple as choose your weapon, start observing your body and write it down. It doesn't have to be complicated - a chart on your bathroom or toilet wall, with a pen or coloured pens nerarby to jot down your generaly fertility status each day. Before you know it, time has passed and you have a much clearer picture of what is going on.

Charting tools -

Calendars and diaries - Take your pick - it can be as simple as making a note in your usual calendar or diary or you can purchase lunar calendars and diaries that will help you chart whilst taking into account the moons movement. I like these because I consider the Moon an excellent aid to charting and regulating the cycle. For Southern Hemisphere the Moon Diary range is great. This site http://www.snakeandsnake.com has lunar cards for the Northern hemisphere (US Time zones).

Free Blank charting templates are available here, you just print them out each month.

Make your own - see instructions on the charting cycles page

Software - there are quite a few computerised charting solutions available online. We particularly like Hormonal Forecaster which is as far as we know, the only software that uses lunar phases. You can try Hormonal Forecaster for free by clicking here

What about Lunar Fertility? Learn about it - find your fertile phase and use the information when you chart. Lunar fertility is important because you can be fertile at times other than ovulation. More info here.

For lots more information on the nitty gritty of charting and what you can expect your body to do each cycle see http://www.menstruation.com.au/periodpages/chartingcycles.html

Written by Nadia MacLeod