Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tracking My Menstrual Cycle

I've been trying to diligently track my menstrual cycle ever since I skimmed Taking Charge of Your Fertility last year. For some reason, however, I have yet to be very successful with it. Something always seems to get in the way: waking up at inconsistent times, traveling and changing time zones, getting bored in the middle of my really long cycles, using a thermometer that only went to the tenths place and learning that I should get one that goes all the way to the hundredths, trying to use a tracking system that is too complicated--blah, blah, blah.

Well, it's time to get serious with my tracking because a) I'm going to need the information to share with my doctors/acupuncturist if I have fertility problems and b) I'm going to need the information to help Matt and me be strategic with our timing once we are trying to conceive.

I've tried using Fertility Friend (for free!), which I think is a really helpful tool (thank you, Julia, for suggesting it!). However, I find that it takes an extra step because I have to record the temperature first thing in the morning and then transfer it onto the website later in the day.

I tried just using a sticky note in the bathroom, but then I couldn't really see the pattern and the spike.

Finally, I copied a fertility chart (out of this book--but it's similar to all the other ones I've seen) and taped it to the inside of my bathroom cabinet (right below the list of two-letter Scrabble words I aspire to memorize while I brush my teeth--which, incidentally, I rarely look at!). I keep a pencil in there, too. So all I have to do is record the temperature while I'm waiting for the shower to heat up. Voila!

I'm hoping this new system will help me be more consistent!

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Anonymous said...

If you have a smartphone, there's probably an app you can download to track everything too. I use one called MyDays for Android. I'm horrible at keeping track of my period too, but I've found this works becasue I've always got my phone with me when I remember I need to mark down period stuff. It'll predict when your next period will come and tells you when you should be ovulating.

Good luck!

Sharpiegirl said...

I've read that some people can take their temp just after they've gotten out of bed and it's the same as when they first wake up. I switched to OPK's so I never tested that for myself but it might help you not stress over taking your temp so much.

Elisabeth said...

I use a thermometer that automatically saves the last temp. That way I can take it before I get up, and record it at bedtime, when I am relaxed.

Danica said...

I had trouble tracking mine too. When I started tracking I would wake up all through the night thinking I'd forgotten to take my temp. Which made it so I wasn't getting enough sleep. Then my husband and I decided I would take it when his morning alarm went off so it would always be around the same time and I could let go of it, but then one morning he rolled over to wake me and I was sleeping with the thermometer in my hand! Obviously it was causing more stress than I needed. The "Making Babies" book said to stop if it was stressful so I the way, thanks for that book recommendation. Anyway, I'm not sure the whole temp taking thing is for me, I may just need to pee on sticks. :)

Sharpiegirl said...

I was the same way Danica! That is why I went to the sticks.

Anonymous said...

An important thing to remember is that the overall pattern of your chart is the significant thing. A few, scattered days of waking up early/late, forgetting, etc, are unlikely to prevent you from figuring out if you're ovulating. As a Type-A person myself I made myself crazy at first trying to read to much into every single temp or bit of cervical fluid, but over the course of a couple months it because much easier to see the overall pattern. Charting definitely worked for us: because of it I was able to track my signs and get pregnant on a cycle where I didn't ovulate until day 28! My doctor was skeptical until an 8.5w ultrasound confirmed I was absolutely correct with the dates. Best of luck with getting to know your body and your future TTC plans.

Roxanne said...

Hey Sara,
I know you had mentioned in a previous post about going a little more green with your feminine products. I just found a website for organic products and they are offering a free sample! I signed up, just to check them out, and thought I'd pass it on.

Anonymous said...

I use one of these charts:

I keep a printed copy of it beside my bed, and then take it into the bathroom with me after I've taken my temperature and record the temperature then.

Marina said...

I know I'm commenting super late on this post, but... I just found this blog from your 2000dollarwedding blog, and I am a huge fan of TCOYF and just had to put in my 2 cents.

First of all, I hope your new tracking system is working out! I honestly believe tracking your temperature consistently is the most important thing you can do to figure out your fertility status. I have a digital thermometer that holds the last 5 temperatures in its memory, so I don't have to write them down every day if I don't want to. One thing I keep meaning to do is ask my husband to actually be the one to put the temperatures on the chart. One of the benefits of charting is that it's possible for male partners to be involved in a way that's not possible with any other birth control or fertility method, so if you can take advantage of that I think that's great.

I would also really recommend that you get someone else to look at your charts who's been charting a while. Especially since you have long cycles, it can be a bit tricky learning to identify a temperature spike that signals ovulation. Cycles that I had trouble interpreting at first were easy for me to interpret when I looked at them again a year later. The forums at the TCOYF website and FertilityFriend are great places to get feedback.

I wouldn't rely on ovulation test strips, because as others have said there's a lot of variables there. I also wouldn't rely on the idea that you ovulate 14 days before your period starts--for me it's usually 11 or 12 days, and the range seems to be between 10 and 16 days, generally.

And the only other thing I wanted to say (before this turns into a novel--whew!) is that I've had some luck regulating my cycle by how much light is in my room when I'm sleeping. The way it works is you keep your room pitch black most of the time, and have some light (nightlight, streetlamp or moon through the window) for a week or so around when you want to ovulate. Of course small adjustments to your cycle would probably work better than large adjustments--maybe aim for ovulation on day 20 one cycle, then day 18 the next, etc.

Ingenue said...

I know you've already got your little coconut cooking - but I just read this... For future reference: I've used the cycle tracking chart out of the back of "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" for about 6 years. I just make about 20 copies of the chart every 20 months or so, 3-hole punch them and keep them in a 3-ring binder in my bathroom. I keep the current chart on top with unused copies underneath, and when I start my period I just move the finished chart for that cycle to the back of the binder. This way all of my charts are easily in chronological order, I have new copies waiting when I need them and the binder is in a handy spot in the power room.

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