Often, when I talk to women about charting their cycle, they may say something like, “Oh, I did that when I wanted to get pregnant.” Today’s woman often thinks about and plans to become pregnant long before trying to conceive. It’s not uncommon for a woman to become interested in her fertility before she decides to “use it,” so to speak. Fertility is often ignored the rest of the time. But, I’d like to challenge you to consider that if you have ovaries, you should track your ovulation cycle even if you’re not trying to get pregnant. Ovulation tracking is good for you all the time. Or at least all the time until menopause!
Your fertility health is part of your overall health
I think there is a tendency for women to think of their fertility as somehow separate from the rest of their health. It’s sort of like a switch. You turn it on when you want to use it, and turn it off when you don’t want to use it. In reality, the process that your body goes through every month to release an egg and then prepare for possible pregnancy, causes changes all over your body. Your period and your signs of ovulation are a sign of your health. Here are a few examples of how charting your ovulation cycle can help you be a healthier person, even when you’re not trying to get pregnant.
Avoiding Pregnancy Naturally
You might think that the only way you can avoid pregnancy is to take a pill, get an IUD, or use a condom, but this is not true! There are many well-studied natural methods for avoiding pregnancy. The Creighton Model is the method I use and teach, but you have many options that are just as effective as the birth control pill, with no side-effects!
So instead of being on the pill before you decide to start a family, or in between having babies, you can be charting not only to avoid pregnancy, but to understand more about your health even BEFORE you decide to make babies with your fertility.
Here’s another problem with being on the pill: you can’t track your ovulation cycle! I mean, I guess you could try, but it doesn’t tell you anything about ovulation or your natural hormones. The pill stops those processes from happening.
Diagnosing Hormone Problems
One of the best things you can do to diagnose and treat hormone problems is to track your ovulation cycle even if you’re not trying to get pregnant.
Charting can reveal problems with the hormones in your brain.
Real Life Example: A certain type of pituitary tumor called a prolactinoma can cause infertility and other cycle related issues. On a fertility chart this might look like longer, or more irregular cycles, or periods stopping altogether.
Tracking your ovulation cycle can reveal problems with the hormones your ovaries make.
Real Life Example: Charting the time after ovulation to the start of the next period is a helpful metric in understanding fertility hormones. If this phase is too short, it can mean there are problems with your progesterone and/or your estrogen hormones.
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Charting is Empowering
When you chart you know your body. Like, really know it. You can be the first one who knows that something is “off” and use that to advocate for yourself.
Two months ago I started noticing I was having pain in my left breast. Of course, my hypochondriac brain immediately jumps to thinking I have breast cancer. I start checking for lumps and can’t find any. So I decided to add this to my fertility tracking. What I found was that the breast pain seems to be just in the few days leading up to my ovulation day. I noticed that the pain went away after ovulation. This really calmed my fears that it was something serious. I’ll probably still get it checked out at my annual exam next month, but I think it’s from rising estrogen.
A few years ago I had a client who was in a car accident. After the car accident she started having some vaginal bleeding so she went to the ER to get checked out. Later, her car insurance tried to deny the claim, saying she was probably just on her period. She actually used her Creighton Model chart to prove to them that she was NOT on her period. How cool is that?!
So, if you’re ready to take control of your health and fertility, consider charting your cycle. It’s one of the best things you can do for your health.