Want to balance your hormones but not sure how to track your cycle? In this post, I’m going to break down the best fertility awareness methods, why you should use them, and the benefits of tracking your cycle.
More and more women are realizing that learning more about their cycle can give them clues and insights into their fertility and clues about potential health concerns. After all, some refer to the menstrual cycle as the fifth vital sign.
Tracking your cycle will help you understand how you experience each individual menstrual cycle phase and how to support each phase through diet, physical activity, and self-care practices.
You’ll also get insight into why you may be experiencing certain symptoms, energy levels and the state of your mood.
Why Track Your Cycle Manually?
It’s likely you’ve downloaded a period tracking app to keep up with your cycle. However, there are several concerns about using apps.
While these apps can help you predict menstruation, they may be more prone to inaccuracies if you forget to put in data consistently. They are also unreliable when it comes to predicting ovulation without very specific data.
The Entire Cycle Matters
Usually, when people reference their cycle, they focus on menstruation and ovulation. In fact, many women only seek information about their cycle when they’re trying to conceive or having period-related symptoms.
However, there are four phases of your cycle, and symptoms during each phase can provide insight about your body. Supporting your body through the entire cycle can help you have better periods and more regular ovulations.
For example, the follicular phase is when eggs are being prepared for release. That’s why it’s important to focus on nutrient-rich foods that boost fertility during this time.
Luteal phase is the other often overlooked part of the cycle. Ironically, this is the time when you’re likely to experience PMS symptoms and plays a role in preparing the uterus for a successful pregnancy.
5 Fertility Awareness Methods Used for Cycle Tracking
1. Standard Day Method
This method works best for women who have regular cycles. It involves marking a calendar based on a fixed number of days, usually assuming a 28-day cycle.
While this method is simple, it needs to be done consistently and may not be accurate without the tracking of other symptoms.
You can find my simple tracker here, if you’re interested in trying the standard day method.
2. Intuitive/Symptom Tracking
This method gives you more insight than the standard day method because you record symptoms like mood swings, cramps, bloating and other bodily changes.
You can personalize which symptoms you want to record or track and I find this method more helpful if you’re cycle-syncing your diet and exercise. It can give you more insight into your body’s needs.
If you’re interested in trying this method, grab my Cyclical Living Planner so you can track your cycle and symptoms and incorporate cycle syncing into your lifestyle.
3. Cervical Mucus
Checking your cervical mucus can be done as part of Intuitive/Symptom tracking, symptothermal method, or alone.
Cervical mucus changes throughout your cycle depending on your hormone fluctuations. At the beginning of the cycle, your cervical mucus may be dry to thick and white.
During your fertile window the cervical mucus has a clearer, slippery egg-white texture to make it easier for sperm to fertilize the egg.
If pregnancy does not occur, the mucous returns to the thick or dry texture.
While this method might be really helpful for determining ovulation, in my experience it works best in addition to another method, especially if you aren’t observing your cervical fluid consistently.
4. Symptothermal Method
This method involves tracking both cervical mucus and Basal Body Temperature (BBT) and sometimes includes checking cervical position.
This is one of the most accurate methods for tracking your cycle and may provide a fuller picture of one’s fertility window.
This method requires a special basal thermometer that should be used immediately upon waking for the most accurate readings. It’s also important to track consistently for accuracy.
5. Ovulation Tests
If you’re only interested in determining your ovulation window, ovulation tests and prediction kits are a simple and effective way to get accurate results.
These types of tests measure the rise of Luteinizing Hormone in your urine to help you predict your fertile window and ovulation.
Using ovulation tests and kits does have some limitations. They only help predict fertile windows and ovulation. And they don’t give any other information regarding the entire cycle. Another drawback to this method is that you do have to buy test strips monthly to use this method consistently.
Finding the best method for you is a matter of personal preference and convenience. People with more regular and predictable cycles might find the Standard Day and Intuitive tracking methods work well.
While people with more symptoms, fertility challenges and irregular cycles will likely need to do a combination of methods to get the most accurate and helpful information from their tracking.
If you’re new to manual cycle tracking or haven’t tracked your cycle consistently in a while, I encourage you to get my FREE cycle tracker to begin tracking your menstrual cycle today.
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