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Tracking your fertility data



When to start a new cycle

Each new cycle starts on the first day of your period. The first day of your period is the day that you have full red flow, not spotting. If your period starts starts late evening or in the middle of the night, you may start your new cycle the following day.



Adding a previous cycle

You may wish to enter previous cycles to improve future cycle predictions.

To add a cycle:

  1. Click the My cycles and symptoms item in the user menu in the top right menu
  2. Click the Manage button (under Manage cycles and periods)
  3. Click the Add period button at the top of the page
  4. Select the first day of bleeding as the Period start date
  5. Adjust the length of your period by clicking the - or + buttons to increase or decrease the number of days your period lasted
  6. Click Add period

If a cycle is added in between existing cycles the system will automatically reanalyze your data for all affected cycles (including possible ovulation days, intercourse timing scores and pregnancy probability predictions).



Editing a cycle (start date or period length)

Sometimes you may need to adjust the start date of a cycle or the length of your period if the information has changed or was entered incorrectly.

To make changes:

  1. Click the My cycles and symptoms item in the user menu in the top right menu
  2. Click the Manage button (under Manage cycles and periods)
  3. Click the button next to the cycle that needs adjustments
  4. To adjust the start date, select the correct date on the calendar
  5. To adjust the length of your period, click the - or + buttons to increase or decrease the number of days your period lasted
  6. Click Save changes

If changes are made to the dates of your cycle, the system will automatically reanalyze your cycle (including possible ovulation day, intercourse timing score and pregnancy probability predictions).



Tracking a pregnancy loss

If you suffered a pregnancy loss and would like to keep all of the data you entered for the cycle (including symptoms and positive pregnancy tests) you can change the "Status" of your pregnancy in order to change how it is displayed in your Cycles listing. (This will change it from "Pregnant" to the new status you select)

This status is only visible to you.

Option 1

  1. On the Manage cycles and periods page, any cycle that has the 'Pregnant' status will have a change link.
  2. Select the pregnancy loss type from the list
  3. Click "Save status"

Option 2

  1. On the Calendar and analysis page for the cycle, click the ' Edit' link next to the "Pregnant" status.
  2. Select the pregnancy loss type from the list
  3. Click "Save status"

If you need to change your pregnancy status back to "Pregnant" set the Pregnancy status to the blank option and click "Save status". This will remove the Pregnancy loss status.

Change from Pregnant to Not pregnant: If you need to remove the Pregnant status all together you will need to delete all positive pregnancy tests for the cycle. See Removing 'Pregnant' status from a cycle below for full information.



Removing a cycle

Sometimes you may need remove a cycle if the information has changed or was entered incorrectly.

To remove a cycle:

  1. Click the My cycles and symptoms item in the user menu in the top right menu
  2. Click the Manage button (under Manage cycles and periods)
  3. Click the button next to the cycle to remove
  4. Read the information on the delete confirmation screen
  5. Click Yes, remove cycle to complete the deletion process or
  6. Click No, cancel to keep the cycle

NOTE: Removing a cycle will not delete any of the data recorded on days included in the cycle. All days from the removed cycle will be moved and included in the previous cycle.

Removing a cycle may cause the ovulation prediction, pregnancy probability and/or intercourse score of the previous cycle to change.



Removing 'Pregnant' status from a cycle

If you recorded a positive pregnancy test but later discovered you were not pregnant or incorrectly added a positive pregnancy test and would like to have the "Pregnant" status removed for the cycle, follow the steps below.

If you have suffered a pregnancy loss, see above for information on Tracking a pregnancy loss.

In order to remove the status "Pregnant" from a particular cycle, you will need to delete all positive pregnancy tests recorded for the cycle.

  1. Click the My cycles and symptoms item in the user menu in the top right menu
  2. Click the Manage button (under Manage cycles and periods)
  3. Click the Cycle start date link for the desired cycle
  4. Click each date that has a positive pregnancy test
  5. Scroll down and click the button to delete any positive tests (and confirm)
  6. Repeat this process until all positive pregnancy tests are deleted for the cycle

If you recorded a pregnancy test as positive, but later found out it was an evaporation line (a line on your pregnancy test that looked positive, but was a flaw in the test), you should delete the positive pregnancy test result and then add another entry, but select "Evaporation line" as the test result. This will be included in the statistics page for the particular brand and will help others identify pregnancy test brands that are more prone to evaporation lines.



What is cycle charting/fertility charting

It is a method of predicting ovulation and fertility. It involves recording different symptoms each day to look for signs and patterns that indicate increased fertility. These may include oral/vaginal temperature taking, cervical mucus observations, cervix position, texture and opening, saliva ferning patterns, etc. These signs can be charted to enable analysis of changes throughout your menstrual cycle.

Cycle/fertility charting can help you get pregnant. Healthy couples and couples experiencing fertility problems can benefit from cycle charting. Tracking the signs that are proven indicators of fertility allows you to understand when your fertility is highest and you can then time intercourse accordingly.

As your body prepares for a possible pregnancy, the brain sends hormonal triggers to your body to prepare for ovulation and the release of an egg. These hormonal triggers also produce signs and symptoms that you can observe and track. By keeping track of these symptoms, you can begin to understand when ovulation occurs.

What does charting involve?

Cycle/fertility charting involves recording daily symptoms. The idea is to pinpoint your most fertile time each cycle. The most commonly used are basal body temperatures, cervical mucus observations and ovulation predictor kits. Other signs you can record are cervix position, texture and opening, saliva ferning patterns and fertility monitors results.

It is not necessary to chart every fertility sign. Most women start by charting basal body temperature (BBT). It is useful to identify when and if ovulation occurs during your cycle. BBT data can also help indentify a potential fertility problem and your charts may be useful for your doctor.

Cervical mucus observations can be very valuable as well. BBT only identifies/confirms ovulation after it has occurred. Cervical mucus, on the other hand, indicates approaching fertility. Knowing when ovulation is approaching is key!

Charting multiple fertility signs and symptoms increases your chances of timing intercourse correctly (the days leading up to ovulation are most likely to result in pregnancy). The more information you have the better prepared you will be each cycle. Knowing that you are in fact ovulating and knowing what signs indicate impending ovulation will increase your chances of conception greatly!



BBT basics

Basal body temperature charting can tell you if you ovulate and when it occurred. Confirming ovulation is helpful to rule out anovulatory cycles (when ovulation does not occur in a cycle). It is also helpful in determining ovulation patterns from cycle to cycle - discovering a pattern will help estimate when ovulation is likely to occur in future cycles and can help you plan intercourse at the correct times. Understanding when ovulation occurred can be helpful in determining your chances of conception based on your recorded intercourse.

Basal body temperature (BBT) charting is useful for confirming ovulation. I can not predict ovulation before it happens, it can only confirm ovulation after it has already occurred. Other fertility signs, like cervical mucus, can indicate possible ovulation in advance.

When ovulation occurs, your body temperature increases slightly (by about 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit or 0.3 degrees Celsius). This increase in temperature will be sustained for several days. By monitoring and charting your temperature, it is possible to determine ovulation by finding this temperature shift.

During the first part of your menstrual cycle (follicular phase), your basal body temperature remains relatively low. This lasts throughout the follicular phase. Once ovulation occurs, progesterone levels in your body increase. The higher progesterone levels cause your body's core temperature to shift by a very small amount. Your temperature remains elevated for most of the second half of your cycle (luteal phase) until your progesterone levels drop again. If conception was acheived, your progesterone levels will remain high and your body temperature should remain elevated.

An ideal BBT chart shows two different temperature levels. This is called biphasic chart because it shows the two different temperature phases of your menstrual cycle. Lower temperatures during the follicular phase and increased temperatures after ovulation (luteal phase) that is sustained until the start of the next cycle.



Guidelines for taking your basal body temperature

In order to analyze your chart properly it is best to have the most accurate data recorded. Your basal body temperature will be most reliable if you follow these guidelines as closely as possible.

  • Take your temperature just as you wake up in the morning, before doing anything else. You can not get up, sit up, walk around, go to the bathroom, eat anything, drink anything, or engage in any kind of activity (even shaking down a mercury thermometer can skew your temperature). Keep your themometer at your beside along with a notepad to record the temperature and the time it was taken. If you use a mercury thermometer, shake it down the night before.
  • Take your temperature at the same time every day. (Yes, even weekends and holidays) Set an alarm - you can always go back to sleep! This is very important as your resting temperature increases by approximately 0.1° every half an hour and so could skew your chart.
  • Take your temperature after at least three to four consecutive hours of sleep. (To get a more reliable result at least 5 hours is preferable)
  • Take your temperature using a special BBT thermometer. You can take your temperature orally, vaginally or rectally. Just be consistent throughout the cycle.
  • You should use the same thermometer throughout the cycle. (If you buy a new one, start using it on cycle day one of the next cycle.) If your themometer breaks and you must use a new one, make sure to add a note of this on your chart.
  • Don't get upset if you oversleep or forget to write a temperature down (or miss a day all together) In most cases one or two missed temperatures won't make ovulation undetectable. (Especially if you are checking multiple fertility signs like cervical mucus, cervix position or using ovulation predictor kits or a fertility monitor). Just do the best you can.
  • It is also advisable to mark in the notes section on your chart days when your temperature may be unreliable due to illness or alcohol consumption etc.

Ideally, you should start charting on the first day of your period, and continue to take your basal body temperature every morning throughout your entire cycle. Every day, record your waking temperature, along with the time that you took it.

After you have experience with charting, you may discover that you can skip the first few days of your period and start taking your temperature a few days into your cycle. Until you know when you tend to ovulate, though, it's best to take your temperature all the way through your cycle.



Equipment needed

You will need a special Basal Body Temperature (BBT) thermometer; digital and mercury varieties are available. Regular fever thermometers are not suitable as they are only likely to display temperature to 0.2° rather than the necessary 0.1° accuracy. These special themometers are quite inexpensive and can be purchased from most drug stores and pharmacies.



What is cervical mucus

Cervical mucus is produced by glands in the cervix (within your cervical canal). During your cycle, the quantity and the consistency (texture and appearance) of cervical mucus changes - this is due to hormone fluctuations. As you approach ovulation, estrogen increases and you begin to produce the most fertile type of cervical mucus. You are considered most fertile when the mucus becomes clear, slippery and stretchy (often compared to raw egg whites).

Fertile-quality cervical mucus supports conception by providing a healthy medium in which sperm can survive and propel themselves. Fertile cervical mucus protects sperm from the naturally-acidic environment of the vagina and helps sperm to move through the cervix into the uterus. Paying close attention to the changes will help you time intercourse correctly and you can begin to understand your own fertility patterns.

What can it tell me about my fertility or ovulation?
Fertile-quality cervical mucus can help indentify when ovulation may be approaching. This is important when timing intercourse.



Typical/ideal pattern

The most common cervical mucus pattern is as follows:

  • The first few days following your period there will be little or no mucus. You will feel dry. There is little chance of pregnancy during this time.
  • Next cervical mucus gets moist and sticky and may be white or cream in colour. There may be a small chance of becoming pregnant during this time.
  • Your cervical mucus will next turn creamy, somewhat like hand lotion and be white or yellow or cloudy. It may stretch slightly but not very much and break easily.
  • As ovulation approaches your cervical mucus will become watery and greater in volume. It is likely to be clear and may be stretchy. Consider yourself fertile when you see this type of cervical mucus.
  • As ovulation gets even closer your cervical mucus becomes most like eggwhite. This is your most fertile cervical mucus. It will likely be clear (or tinged with white) and very stretchy. The amount of this mucus will steadily increase until ovulation occurs.
  • After ovulation, there is a marked change in mucus appearance and quantity. It tends to become sticky (does not stretch) and there is a feeling of dryness.



How to check cervical mucus

The easiest way to check your cervical mucus is to make your observations when you go to the bathroom. You can simply use toilet paper and wipe the entrance of your vagina. (You may also notice some cervical mucus in your underwear) After several cycles you will likely become quite familiar with the variations in your cervical mucus and how to indentify each. If you don't find much mucus externally you can also collect your cervical mucus internally by inserting your clean finger into your vagina and circle your finger around your cervix (or as close as possible).



How to chart and record cervical mucus

You may find you have several different types of cervical mucus in one day. In this case always record the most fertile cervical mucus. This ensures that you do not miss a potentially fertile day. Remember that not every woman experiences every type of cervical mucus.

Dry If you do not have any cervical mucus present. (No cervical mucus in your underwear and/or the outside of your vagina feels dry) You will likely experience dry days after your period and after ovulation has occurred.

Sticky If cervical mucus is sticky or tacky; is glue-like, stiff or crumbles; if it breaks easily and is not stretchy. It will likely be yellow or white, or could be cloudy or clear. You may experience sticky cervical mucus before and after ovulation.

Creamy If your cervical mucus is similar to hand lotion (white, yellow or cloudy/clear). It may stretch slightly but will break easily. You may experience creamy cervical mucus before and after ovulation.

Watery If your cervical mucus is clear and like water. It may be slightly stretchy. This cervical mucus is considered fertile. (This may be your most fertile cervical mucus as some women do not get "eggwhite" cervical mucus) You will most often see this type before you get eggwhite cervical mucus prior to ovulation.

Eggwhite This is considered the most fertile cervical mucus. If your cervical mucus resembles eggwhite. It will be very stretchy and usually clear (but may be tinged with white or even pink) You will be able to stretch this type of cervical mucus between your thumb and index finger.

Spotting If you have any pink, red, dark red or brown discharge. It may mark your underwear or a liner or you may only see it when you wipe. If it is only spotting and does not require a pad or tampon, record it as spotting and not your period. Spotting may occur just before your period or after your period ends. It may also occur around ovulation or even around the time of implantation if you have conceived. Only start a new cycle if you true period has started (full red flow).

Period Be sure to always start a new cycle on the first day of your period (the first day that you have full red flow that requires a pad or tampon) This first day is considered Cycle Day 1.



Multiple patches of egg white cervical mucus or egg white cervical mucus after ovulation

You probably know that egg white looking cervical mucus is a good indicator of impending ovulation. But, what if you notice egg white cervical mucus (EWCM) after your chart shows that you have ovulated.

What does this mean?

There are several possibilities. It is possible to have EWCM after you ovulate. The hormone estrogen is involved in the production of EWCM. As your estrogen levels increase before ovulation, you will notice an increase in cervical mucus. Egg white looking mucus is a very good sign of higher fertility. When you start to see EWCM you should consider yourself fertile and plan intercourse during this time if you are trying to conceive.

EWCM and Estrogen

EWCM is produced as a response to increases in estrogen levels. Some women will experience another rise in estrogen levels about a week after ovulation, but the increase is not quite as high as what occurs just prior to and during ovulation. Both estrogen and progesterone levels increase during this time to help prepare the lining of your uterus for implantation. During the secondary rise in estrogen you may notice a second patch of EWCM. Not every woman will experience this but it is not considered unusual.

Towards the end of your cycle, if you are not pregnant, progesterone plummets and estrogen rises. This may bring on a couple days of EWCM. You may notice that it correlates with a drop in your basal body temperature.

EWCM and Delayed Ovulation

Another possibility is that your ovulation was delayed for some reason. It is possible for your body to prepare to ovulate and then not ovulate. Some women will have an increase in LH (Luteinizing Hormone) which will show up as a positive ovulation test and have fertile cervical mucus (which would indicate impending ovulation), but then due to stress, illness or some other factors, not actually ovulate. If you do not see a clear thermal shift on your chart or you are not completely sure if you have ovulated, it is always best to consider this type of cervical mucus a sign of high fertility. You should plan intercourse whenever you see this type of mucus to help ensure your best chances of conception.

EWCM and Anovulatory Cycles

If you are noticing multiple patches of EWCM but your temperatures do not show a clear thermal shift, you may be having anovulatory cycles. This means that your body may be trying to ovulate, which is why you are seeing the multiple patches of EWCM, but for some reason you are not actually ovulating. During a "typical" ovulation chart you will see EWCM followed by a temperature shift and a drying up of cervical mucus following ovulation. You will usually feel dry after you ovulate (this is one way to confirm that ovulation has occurred). If you are having patches of fertile cervical mucus but you are not seeing a clear biphasic chart (a follicular phase, ovulation and a luteal phase), it could mean that you are not ovulating. If this is the case, you may want to bring your charts to your health care provider and get further advice.



What is an ovulation predictor kit (ovualation test)

An Ovulation Predictor Kit (OPK) is a test that looks for luteinizing hormone (LH). Just prior to ovulation, women experience a short surge where the LH level rises to a higher level. The OPK will help you pinpoint this surge and help you predict when you will ovulate.



What can an OPK tell about fertility or ovulation

Luteinizing hormone (or LH) in elevated quantities causes ovulation (the release of the egg - or ovum - from the ovarian follicle). During the menstrual cycle only a small amount of LH is made, but in the middle of the cycle LH briefly and dramatically increases. This increase is called the "LH surge" and precedes ovulation. Conception is most likely to occur within thirty-six hours following the LH surge. The LH Ovulation Test is specifically designed to detect your LH surge - the time when you are likely to ovulate. If you receive a positive on an LH test, you are in your most fertile phase of your menstrual cycle.

OPKs can not confirm ovulation, but they are a very useful tool in determining your most fertile period each cycle. It is best uses OPKs in conjuction with other fertility signs, such as BBT charting or cervical mucus observations.



How to chart ovulation tests (OPK)

Countdown to pregnancy cycle charting includes an area for you to record ovulation test results. Select positive (+) or negative (-) as appropriate. Simply leave this field blank if no test was taken.