At Ova Moon, we talk a lot about healing your body to heal your cycle. This is because our menstrual cycle is an indicator of overall health! In order to better understand what is happening internally throughout the cycle, it’s important to track your cycle. The most effective way to do that is using the fertility awareness method.
What is the fertility awareness method (FAM)? This is a practice that involves tracking different fertile signs as they change with the cycle to determine the fertile and infertile phases of your menstrual cycle. The main signs to pay attention to are cervical mucus, the basal body temperature (BBT) and the cervical position. As we start to track our cycle we begin to get a picture of what is happening to our bodies on a hormonal level!
Cervical mucus changes throughout the cycle to be different colors and different consistencies. It can most effectively be determined by sticking two clean fingers into the vaginal canal from a squatting position. This allows your fingers to get closer to the cervix. Post period you have a few days before cervical mucus comes which are known as your dry days. Then your cervical mucus forms and provides a balanced environment for the sperm to stay alive and to support natural conception. Post ovulation the body goes back into dryness due to progesterone, and stays that way until menstruation.
In a healthy cycle, there is only cervical mucus during your fertile window. Peak fertile mucus is clear, stretchy or slippery and is often compared to raw egg whites, while non-peak mucus is cloudy and white and can be compared to creamy white hand lotion. Peak mucus is the best for supporting pregnancy but you can get pregnant anytime there is cervical mucus prior to ovulation.
BBT charting measures your temperature throughout the cycle. It can’t predict ovulation but can show that ovulation has happened. In order to utilize BBT for FAM, the resting body temperature is taken every morning at the same time and recorded on a chart/app. The chart can then be used to see what day of your cycle ovulation is happening (This can be different every month and it’s totally normal!). Progesterone rises after ovulation and raises the body's temperature so most charts will show the first half of the cycle .5 -1 degrees Fahrenheit lower than the second half. Because certain lifestyle factors that might contribute to fluctuations in your temperature it’s important to make note of nights you go to bed late, days you drink alcohol and days that might be more stressful.
The position of the cervix changes during the cycle and there are two distinct positions and ways that the cervix will feel which can help you know when you are in your fertile window. When the body is in its fertile window, the cervix is soft, open and higher in the body. It might feel like there is a little dimple on the cervix. When you are outside of your fertile window, the cervix is low and closed.
During our years of menstruation, ovulation is a sign of health! When the body is relaxed and getting the nutrients it needs, it wants to reproduce. Over time, using these 3 tools of the FAM you will be able to effectively know when you are ovulating which can be supportive whether you are wanting to conceive or wanting a non-hormonal form of birth control. Remember, it can take time for this method to be effective because there is a lot to learn in order to understand the body’s signs. Once you get the hang of it though, it will become second nature like brushing your teeth. If you want a more in depth understanding be sure to check out the Fifth Vital Sign by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack. Feel free to comment on any questions you have!