Guest blog by Rachel Eyre.
You may have heard of Natural Family Planning, Fertility Awareness or the Symptom-Thermal Method as techniques for charting your cycle to achieve or avoid pregnancy. However, the biggest benefit to charting is the insight it gives you into your own body.
Not only will charting tell you when you are fertile and when you aren’t, it will also tell you a lot about what is going on with your hormones and let you know whether any interventions you are making to change your hormonal health, such as diet are improving things for you.
Here are just a few common hormonal imbalances that often show up in my clients’ charts.
High cortisol happens when you are stressed. This can appear in a few ways. When this first happens, it will stop ovulation from happening, which will show a lengthened follicular phase. This is the phase between menstruation and ovulation and can last 12-16 days in a healthy cycle. When you are experiencing stress, your body will often stop ovulation from happening, although it may try a few times (which will appear in your charts too).
If you have already ovulated, sudden high levels of stress can terminate and shorten your luteal phase (the phase between ovulation and menstruation). In women who are experiencing long periods of stress, ovulation will often become surpassed for long periods of time as your body will ensure only the essential processes are running, priming you for fight or flight.
It is always fascinating to me when we go through someone’s charts and we see something going on and then look at her diary and spot that it correlates with her charts.
PCOS, Blood Sugar Dis-regulation
Insulin resistance which can lead to PCOS will often show up in the charts Often you will see either anovulatory cycles, very long cycles, or shortened luteal phase. PCOS also shows up in cervical fluid patterns too.
Your thyroid shows up in several places in the chart. It could be your temperatures are a lot lower or higher than what would be considered the “normal range”. It can also show up as a cervical fluid disturbance too.
Thyroid can also cause changes the length of the cycle as well.
So what do you do if you want to learn how to chart your cycle?
There are a number of options out there. Some people have learnt from a book, and if you choose this method, you should absolutely read at least 2 or 3 in full first.
You may find a teacher near you, or charting circles in which you can learn in person. Look for someone who is qualified in Natural Family Planning, Fertility Awareness or a clear qualification in one of the methods as you want to make sure you learn the rules correctly.
There are also a number of online classes available. I do both 1-2-1 tuition via Skype and via webinars.
Whichever method you choose, I strongly suggest booking in at least 1 session with several completed charts with a qualified teacher so that they can ensure you have interpreted the rules correctly and help you learn to read your chart.
Rachel is a menstrual and fertility specialist who uses a blend of cycle charting, reflexology, fertility massage therapy and nutrition to help women with period problems, preconception, fertility and perimenopause issues. You can get your free ovulation toolkit and cycle charting kit at www.thehealthywomb.com
Suggested Further Reading
Natural Family Planning Teachers Association UK with free instructions (not a religious organisation) http://www.nfpta.org.uk/tutorials/
Taking Charge of Your Fertility, by Toni Weschler
Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach by John and Sheila Kippley
Justisse Method: Fertility Awareness and Body Literacy A User’s Guide: Volume 1