For those of you who are new to fertility awareness cycle charting, you may be wondering:
How difficult is it?
How much time does it take?
These are great questions to ask! It’s one thing to learn about how to observe cervical mucus, or how to interpret your temperature pattern, but what does that look like in practice? Can you incorporate this into your daily life?
I know how to chart using FEMM, Billings, and SymptoPro. I primarily chart using Billings mucus rules, FEMM LH strip protocol, and SymptoPro temperature interpretation and calculation.This works really well for me and my current circumstances, but I don’t advise anyone to mix methods unless they’re an advanced charter and have done a substantial amount of reading and research on evidence based best practices. Remember that there is no effectiveness research available to you if you mix methods. *The chart shown above is an old chart, and not representative of the tracking I’m doing currently.*
With all that said, here is my daily routine. Depending on the biomarkers you track and the specific method you use, your routine may look *slightly* different but I think my experience is a pretty good representation for many charters.
Wake up: Remove Tempdop from my arm and sync. Tempdrop is a wearable thermometer that I wear on my arm all night long. During cycles that I choose to take my temperature orally with a regular basal body thermometer, I stick my thermometer in my mouth and get my reading before getting out of bed. Then I record the reading into my charting app.
After temping: I go to the bathroom. After I wipe myself, I check my toilet paper to see if I notice any cervical mucus. If I do, I make a mental note of its characteristics. Since I’m currently charting using Billings rules, I don’t handle the mucus. If I were using FEMM or SymptoPro classifications I would lift any mucus off the toilet paper and pull it between two fingers to see if there was any stretch to it. I check for mucus every time I go to the bathroom.
In between bathroom breaks: I occasionally do a mental check-in to notice whether I feel any type of sensation/wetness at my vaginal opening. This takes practice, but once you learn (under the guidance of a trained instructor), it quickly becomes second nature. In Billings charting I create my own terms for the sensations I experience, so I make a mental note of what I felt. If I have my phone nearby, I make a note in my charting app so I don’t forget.
LH testing: On days I experience a wet or slippery sensation, I use a urine test strip to check for LH in mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon. I take note of the result (positive or negative) in my charting app.
End of day: At the end of the day, I fill in my charting app (or paper chart, if I’m using one) with information about my mucus and sensation. I especially take note of whether there has been a change in mucus or sensation quality from the previous day. I also track some information about symptoms and medications (per FEMM recommendations) to give a better overall picture of my cycle health. If I’m menstruating, I chart the amount of blood lost (FEMM). I interpret my fertility status based on method rules.
Now, I’m going to break down how much time all of the above takes me each day:
Temperature: When oral temping: ~2 minutes with the thermometer in my mouth. Using Tempdrop: ~30 seconds to sync (I push the button and make my bed while syncing).
Mucus checks: 15 seconds per bathroom break (so maybe 90 seconds per day)
Sensation checks: No conscious effort at this point– I’m so attuned to this that I don’t really have to think much about it.
LH tests: I dip the strip into a small cup of urine, then leave it on my bathroom counter for 5 minutes until it’s ready to read. Only takes about 1 minute of active involvement.
Data recording: 2-3 minutes MAX
Total: 5-7 minutes per day
I have been charting for several years, so these habits are ingrained into my daily life. Even if I wasn’t actively recording my data, I would still probably look at my toilet paper automatically, and I’d be mentally noticing sensation at the vulva. Charting definitely took more conscious effort when I first started self teaching years ago from Taking Charge of Your Fertility, but after learning FAM from an instructor, I felt much more confident and my routines fell into place easily.
If you already chart your cycles, share your daily routine in the comments. How have you incorporated charting habits into your lifestyle? What challenges have you experienced, if any? I’d love to hear your story.
If you want to learn how to chart, and are looking for an instructor to guide you, you can check out my current course offerings here.
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