The Art of the Chart and its importance for your natural health and wellbeing
Preserving Your Fertility (whether you choose to birth or not) by Lorraine Ferrier
Let me guess you’re on the Moon Times site because you’re either an advocate of natural products or perhaps you are researching making the switch for whatever reason – which is great. You may even already be charting your period. Perhaps using a Moon Times Charting Journal.
But what if I told you charting your period was just one step in preserving your health as a woman aka your fertility. Fertility spans the arc of womanhood—menarche– menstruation–birth–menopause. Whether we intend to birth or not, have gone through menopause or not, fertility is the arc of womanhood.
And, what if I revealed that you can tap into your body’s wisdom by observing your natural signs throughout your cycle and I can teach you the basics right here, right now? That’s the art of the chart and when you can see your hormonal fluctuations in real time it can benefit you in many ways.
Benefits of fertility charting
If you do start fertility charting you may observe the following benefits:
- saving time, energy and stress if any fertility issue becomes apparent and you need to be referred onto a specialist as you have a unique cycle record that can be summarised by a qualified professional
- seeing in real time how alcohol or stress affects your cycle motivating you to make any necessary changes
- observing if and when you are ovulating (not all women ovulate on day 14 as some medical professionals have you believe. And it is perfectly normal not to ovulate on each cycle, although if this pattern is sustained do seek outside help)
- allowing you to see your fertile window in real time to pinpoint the best time for conception to occur
- measuring the length of time it takes from ovulation to menstruation (the luteal phase) this needs to be more than ten days in order to avoid miscarriage if you are pregnancy planning
- Many women enjoy learning to chart, especially relearning facts about their reproductive system that they had long forgotten when taught at school.
- Men particularly enjoy hearing about their partner’s cycle as it is a discussion that does not (under normal circumstances) happen.
- And charting brings an awareness and understanding to hormonal changes and emotions due to PMS, bringing couples closer together.
There are many types of charting that you may have heard of such as the Calendar Method, Billings, Creighton or Rhythm Method. I will be sharing the Sympto-Thermal Method of Natural Family Planning, a ‘double check’ method which is scientifically proven and approved by the World Health Organisation. The Sympto-Thermal Method uses the fertility indicators of cervical fluid and sensation along with a rise in the basal body temperature to accurately predict fertile phases.
The Sympto-Thermal Method can also be used for pregnancy prevention (contraception) and as such is a valuable life skill. Here we give an overview of Fertility Awareness, but to use the Sympto-Thermal Method for contraception reliably you need to learn how to interpret your chart which we don’t detail here. You can download a Fertility Joy chart at lorraineferrier.com/ resources
There is a myriad of information online about fertility charting but using a qualified professional is always advantageous especially if you are using the method as a contraceptive. A specialised fertility professional will be able to inform you how your unique lifestyle affects your fertility e.g. how some medications such as cough medicine, natural or otherwise, impact fluid secretions. They will also have a network of trusted fertility experts to refer you to.
Your natural signs and symptoms of fertility
Cervical Fluid The quality and quantity of cervical fluid, sometimes called vaginal discharge, (the colour, amount and texture) changes throughout your menstrual cycle. At the beginning of your cycle it is thicker and may be scant or white, ensuring that no sperm can enter the cervix (at the top of your vagina). As your cycle continues the fluid becomes more amicable to sperm transport and survival (becoming thinner, copious and may appear stretchy) indicating that ovulation is about to occur. Fertility awareness
How To: Each time you go to the toilet, before passing urine, wipe your vulva area and check your cervical fluid on the toilet paper. This is done throughout the day and a summary recorded on your fertility chart. All fluid is noted. Do not check mucus on your underwear as this will give an inaccurate record.
In your own words describe the ‘CAT’: Colour, Amount and Texture. One description in each category needs to be noted to enable your chart to be interpreted correctly. Below are several examples from each category:
O Texture—slippery/stretchy/thick/pasty It’s your chart so use words or a key that you are comfortable with and can understand. Keep it simple.
Note: Fertile-type mucus is watery and stretchy to aid sperm survival but fluid that is not watery may also keep sperm alive. When you begin to chart it’s advisable to have sex every other day as sperm can sometimes get muddled with your cervical fluid description.
In addition to cervical fluid the sensation at the entrance of the vagina is used as another fertility indicator of this method—you are more fertile at wet times in your cycle i.e. optimum swimming conditions for sperm.
How To: Throughout the day note the feeling at the entrance to your vagina (the vulva area). For example, when you are on your period you will feel noticeably wetter than at other times. Or perhaps you notice when you feel horny that you are wetter—when your libido rises it’s due to hormonal fluctuations increasing your fertile fluid.
Summarise your observations at the end of the day: dry, damp, moist, wet or nothing. When you are on your period just leave this section blank.
Cervical Position Changes in the cervix can also be charted as the position, openness and texture of the cervix changes throughout your menstrual cycle. Changes in the position of your cervix throughout your cycle also aid in identifying your fertile times. These changes can be felt at the top of your vagina with your fingers. The first change usually occurs four to five days before you ovulate. During the fertile phase your cervix can be higher in the vagina, softer to feel, more open and a little dimple felt at the entrance to the cervix. This is a useful additional check when you are finding it hard to describe your mucus pattern. Some couples find that they can feel the position of the cervix during sexual intercourse at some times during their cycle— when the cervix is lower there may be some discomfort.
How To: Check your cervix around the same time every day, but not immediately upon rising in the morning or after a bowel motion. If you have ever used tampons or a menstrual cup the method is the same. Insert one or two fingers into your vagina either from standing, a slight squat or with one leg raised on a chair or toilet.
You need to observe the position, feel, opening and tilt of the cervix.
O Position—is it low/raised/in between?
O Feel—is it firm (f) (like the tip of your nose)/soft (s) (like your lips)?
O Opening—is it opened or closed?
O Tilt— is it back, front or up?
You may not be able to differentiate this, do not worry! Note: The cervix takes months to close properly after vaginal birth and remains slightly open. It’s therefore advisable to allow three months before charting your cervix post-partum.
Basal Body Temperature
The basal body temperature (BBT) (temperature at rest) varies during your cycle, rising when ovulation occurs, because of the release of progesterone. It is this continual higher temperature without menstruation that informs that conception has occurred.
How To: Take it first thing in the morning (before any activity) while still in bed—you can’t even roll over to kiss your partner! Take it at approximately the same time every day. Put the thermometer into your mouth as far back as possible under your tongue. Annotate your temperature on your chart, halfway on the horizontal line (to one decimal point). Record the time that you take your temperature within the ‘cervix’ column if not using, or by the ‘dot’ itself. Once you have a few temperatures recorded join the dots so it’s easy to interpret.
Note: If you are sick or consume alcohol annotate this on your chart as it can affect your readings.
Wherever you are on the arc of womanhood charting can be a powerful ally to your natural healthcare and awareness.
Lorraine Ferrier is a dynamic Natural Fertility Expert and creator of the Fertility Joy Program –to make your baby dreams a reality. So, if you want to conceive naturally or have had trouble conceiving in the past you can connect with your Fertility Joy here www.lorraineferrier.com
Want 50% off June 3rd Teleseminar Fertility Joy: The Surprising Secrets of a Natural and Easy Conception. Here’s your special Moon Times access code (valid until June 2) https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fertility-joy-the-surprising-secrets-of-a-natural-and-easy-conception-tickets-16710095345?discount=LOVE_FertilityJoy_ThankYou%40Moontimes
And if you are seeking fertility joy right now…why not apply for a FREE ‘Fertility Joy Breakthrough Call’ just email Lorraine direct at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: ‘Moon Times: I Want Fertility Joy!’ and she will send you a short application form.
Lorraine’s work (from the ‘Benefits of Fertility Charting’ onwards) has been recently published in Lucy Pearce’s Moon Time: harness the ever-changing energy of your menstrual cycle (2nd edition)
The first edition has consistently been #1 in Menstruation on Amazon.com for a number of years. This second edition features over 45 pages of additional material.
You can find out the full details and buy the book here UK