I began charting mid-way through this cycle, our first cycle of officially trying. Charting involves taking one’s temperature every morning and watching for cervical fluid changes.
After ovulation, the body starts to produce high amounts of progesterone, which is a heat-producing hormone. This heat can be seen in a distinct rise in temperature, so long as temperature is measured in a reliable way across days. The way to do this is by taking one’s temperature upon waking, before doing anything (going to the bathroom, drinking water, etc.). In my last few weeks of measuring my temperature, I have learned two important factoids:
- You have to seal your lips around the thermometer. Maybe this is common-enough knowledge that nobody feels the need to mention it, but I didn’t get the memo and was measuring some bizarrely discrepant temps. As in, my temp was fluctuating bay up to 0.7 degrees fahrenheit on back-to-back measures.
- If you drink something that isn’t perfectly at your body temperature (i.e. anything that you’re likely to drink, basically) wait for 30 minutes before taking your temperature. This is relevant for me because I wake up thirsty periodically throughout the night, every night, and occasionally not too long before my official wake-up time. Drinking water was probably affecting my measurements, although nowhere close to my gaping-mouth-temperature-taking strategy (ok, it wasn’t actually GAPING. Now I’m embarrassed).
Moving right along, the second main component of charting is observing cervical fluid (A.K.A. cervical mucus, but doesn’t fluid just sound so much more beautiful than mucus? Thinking of my vagina filled with fluid seems practically romantic, while a mucus-filled vagina sounds like something to discus with your doctor at your earliest convenience). Now, I had already been fairly attuned to cervical fluid because it’s hard not to notice a gush of liquid mic-cycle, every cycle. (I often tell my husband that I’m leaking. Fascinating body fact, or huge turn off? NOBODY KNOWS!) Being the evolution afficionado that I am, I had put two and two together and worked out that a juicy vagina around mid-cycle–coupled with an increased sex drive in my case–was my ancestors’ little gift to my future children. But! Really making an effort to observe my cervical fluid, every day, has added a whole new lawyer of interesting to dirty undies.
If you, too, want to learn more about the wonderment of the cycle of your body, get yourself a copy of Toni Weschler’s classic Taking Charge of Your Fertility and check out www.tcoyf.com. This is THE book to read on this subject. I recomment making use of your public library before deciding whether to add it to your personal collection, but I won’t force you.