Hormones & Cycles

How to track your cycle?

There are many ways to track your menstrual cycle, but only some are useful to get pregnant. When trying to conceive, knowing when ovulation happens is VITAL. Ovulation will show you when you are most fertile. This means when you have the highest chances to conceive. Ovulation is the KEY event that marks your cycle.

However, fertility is not only relevant when trying to conceive. It is always important to keep in mind. Knowing how your own body works can be very empowering and reflects your overall cycle health.

In this blog post, we will explore different ways to track your cycle.

Menstrual Cycle Phases

One of the important things to know is how long each phase of the menstrual cycle is. The menstrual cycle is complex and many events happen along with it. There are some of these events that are controlled by the uterus and others by the ovaries. Roughly the menstrual cycle can be divided into the first half, ovulation, and the second half.

menstrual cycle graph

The first half of the menstrual cycle

Duration: from Period to Ovulation - very variable in length

Ovarian Cycle: Follicular Phase

Uterine Phase: Menstruation and Proliferative Phase

Ovulation

Duration: around 24 hours

The second half of the menstrual cycle

Duration: from Ovulation to start of next period - 12-14 days

Ovarian Cycle: Luteal Phase

Uterine Phase: Secretory Phase

Read this blog post to learn more about the different ways to divide the cycle: The Phases of the Menstrual Cycle

No matter how you track your cycle, it is crucial to know how long your first and second half of the menstrual cycle lasts. It can give you great insights into your hormones and your overall cycle health. For example, if your Luteal Phase (second half) is ten days or shorter, it could mean there is not enough progesterone being produced. This condition is called Luteal Phase Deficiency.

Take a look at this blog post about Luteal Phase Deficiency!

calendar with days crossed off

Calendar Tracking Method

Do not mistake the length of the phases of your menstrual cycle with the Calendar Method. This method is based on the assumption that every cycle lasts 28 days and ovulation always occurs on day 14.

The egg, after ovulation, can survive around 24 hours and sperm can survive approximately five days in the feminine reproductive tract. The fertile days with this method are calculated based on this information. So the fertile days are about 5 to 6 each month.

But, not every woman has 28-day cycles and most women do not ovulate on day 14. This is why some extra days are added after ovulation in this method.

This method does not offer real certainty about ovulation day, as it is not determined exactly.

basal body temperature thermometer

Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

The BBT method relies on a slight increase in body temperature that usually happens during or the day after ovulation. This is due to increased progesterone levels triggering the reaction. By the time you determined that your ovulation has occurred and found out your alleged ovulation date, it’s too late to conceive that cycle.

BBT can be a good way to confirm ovulation. However, various factors can influence your BBT. Illness, medication, stress, jet lags and drinking alcohol can affect basal body temperature.

Blog Post: BBT and TTC

cervical mucus between fingers

Cervical Mucus Methods

With this Fertility Awareness Method, you check the consistency of your cervical mucus. A few days before ovulation, the mucus becomes noticeable, fluid, clear, and stringy. After ovulation, it becomes milky, cloudy, and viscous.

  • Billings and Creighton Methods

These methods only track cervical mucus. Billings focuses on the sensation of the cervical mucus on the vulva (i.e. slippery). The Creighton Method uses observations of menstrual bleeding, quality and color of cervical mucus, and absence of mucous to indicate days of fertility.

Sympto-Thermal Method

This method combines the Basal Body Temperature and the Cervical Mucus methods. By using this procedure, ovulation is predicted by seeing clear cervical mucus before ovulation, and ovulation is confirmed with the basal body temperature rise. Some also add the cervix position; when it rises and is soft and moist, you are most fertile (but it can take a lot of practice to notice).

Sympto-Hormonal Method: Marquette

The Marquette Method uses an electronic monitor to measure estrogen and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) in urine combined with cervical mucus monitoring. The electronic monitor reads “low,” “high,” or “peak,” depending on the hormone levels. It is optional to also tracking some symptoms like cervical mucus or basal body temperature.

hormone chart

Hormone Tracking

Hormones trigger all the changes that happen during the menstrual cycle, like cervical mucus changes, temperature changes, mood changes, etc. There are different options when it comes to hormone tracking. The most basic form are regular OPKs or Ovulation Predictor Kits which test your Luteinizing Hormone (LH). They use urine test strips to detect LH levels. If two lines appear on the test, it means ovulation will happen in about 12-24 hours.

More advanced options integrate digital period tracking and more hormone tests, like the Pearl Fertility home kit. With the Pearl kit, you test Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) levels on a personalized schedule. It includes the option to add test progesterone tests covering all key hormones for the three parts of the cycle: FSH for the first part, LH for ovulation, and Progesterone for the second part.

Pearl comes with an app for your smartphone to read the test results and hormone levels by simply taking a picture of the tests. This allows you to know your ovulation date and your most fertile days in advance. All this information is presented through the interactive screens of the app, where you can see your hormone levels in a personalized chart every cycle.

It is a real-time approach working for every cycle with a more thorough analysis of your menstrual cycle than common ovulation prediction kits or other methods.

If you would like to know more about the role of FSH, LH, and Progesterone in regulating the phases of your cycle, check out these articles: FSH, LH and Progesterone.

Get your kit today!

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