The following is information from "The Garden of Fertility: A Guide to Charting Your Fertility Signals to Prevent or Achieve Pregnancy - Naturally and to Gauge Your Reproductive Health" by Katie Singer. You can go to Singer's website http://www.gardenoffertility.com/ and get more information as well as print charts for your usage. Other charts are available at www.lunafertility.com.
A woman has three primary fertility signals: cervical fluid, basal body temperature and cervix changes.
1. Cervical fluid (and vaginal sensation) can sometimes be noticed on your underwear when you are fertile and the labia (vaginal lips) will feel wet when you wipe or touch. The purpose of cervical fluid is to provide nourishment for sperm to live up to five days, filter out abnormal sperm, to provide an alkaline environment to protect the sperm from the vagina’s acidity, and provide a way for sperm to swim up through the uterus and fallopian tube at ovulation.
Cervical fluid typically appears a few days after a menstrual bleed, but it can begin earlier or later. When it appears, it progresses from a tacky quality, to a creamy substance, then to an egg white-like texture and then returns to a dryer quality.
To chart, observe 3 times a day and at the end of the day, write down the description of the wettest sample of mucus. Here’s how: before urinating, wash your hands and take a sample by wiping the tip of your clean finger or a folded square of toilet tissue in the same place just inside your vagina throughout the cycle. Is it sticky (like tacky paste) milky, creamy (hand lotion), or like egg white? Is it white, clear or streaked? How long does it stretch – 1 or 2”? If it is yellow or greenish, has an odor, and/or doesn’t change throughout the cycle, it may indicate a vaginal infection.
Typically the labia are dry after the period, moist or wet before ovulation and dry after ovulation. You can determine this by wiping after urinating, but generally you are aware without needing to touch, just as you are aware of your nose’s internal sensation of moist or dry without touching the inside of your nose. At the end of the day, record the wettest sensation from the day.
Your mucus or vaginal sensation might be obscure if you:
You can bleed and produce cervical fluid at the same time. Some women’s mucus doesn’t change from day to day: two weeks of no change indicates a basic infertile pattern. This is common in women who are not ovulating due to coming off the pill, breast-feeding, or pre-menopausal.
The presence of wet vaginal sensation or cervical fluid after menstruation signals that the follicular (fertile) phase has begun. Follicles (containing unripe eggs) are now maturing and emitting estrogen which stimulates the production of mucus, which can keep sperm alive for up to five days. You are potentially fertile. Without mucus, the vagina creates an acidic environment that the sperm can’t live longer than 30 minutes – 4 hours.
The peak day is the last day of moist vaginal sensation or wet mucus and it signals that ovulation is about to take place. You are considered infertile after 6 PM on the 4th day of mucus that’s dryer than it was on your peak day. If you are undergoing stress, breast-feeding, coming off the Pill, are have long cycles, you might have a split peak where your mucus builds up again until you finally do or don’t ovulate. If you experience bleeding after not ovulating, it is considered withdrawal bleeding. If they occur more than once a year because of stress, you may be at risk for ovarian cysts because you’ve got follicles developing but not enough hormonal activity to cause ovulation.
2. Basal body temperature: waking temperature after at least 3 hours of rest. Temperature is cooler before ovulation and warmer after ovulation.
To chart, you’ll need a digital thermometer that will retain your last recorded temperature or a basal mercury thermometer that doesn’t measure above 100 degrees. Place the thermometer by the bed within easy reach and away from heat, and take your temperature every day when you wake up, ideally at the same time every day and before getting up. Typically the temperature will rise about 1/10th of a degree every half hour so. If you take it at a markedly different time one day, record the time on the chart. Note too if you stayed up late the night before, drank alcohol, were ill, slept with an electric blanket or a heated waterbed, had restless sleep, were traveling, slept embraced with a partner or child, etc.
Take your temperature in the same place (orally or under your arm) and use the same thermometer throughout the cycle.
After taking a cluster of low temps in relation to a cluster of high ones that stay high, draw a coverline. You can do this by looking for a rise in temperature at least two tenths of a degree higher than any of your last six temperatures. Count back six temps, starting with this first low temp before the rise. Draw a line (your coverline) 1/10th a degree above the temperature that is the highest of this cluster of six.
You might not ovulate until 24 hours after the rise or you might release 2 eggs, so you must wait until 6 PM of the third consecutive high temperature above your coverline to consider yourself infertile. This begins the luteal phase, which typically lasts 12-16 days before a new cycle begins. If your luteal phase is 18 days long (have 18 high temperatures after ovulating and no period), then you’re probably pregnant.
3. Cervix changes: the cervix tends to be soft, open and high in the vaginal canal when you are fertile; firm, closed, and can be felt low in the vaginal canal during infertile phases.
Feel your cervix after your period has ended. To feel your cervix, wait a half hour after waking (it tends to be higher when you first wake up) and/or after you’ve had a bowel movement (may open slightly after a bowel movement) to check it. Check once each day, at about the same time, in the same squatting position. Wash your hands well, and insert your clean middle finger (with a trimmed nail) into your vaginal canal until you feel something like the top of your nose. The cervix’s angle tends to be straight at ovulation and more tilted on infertile days.
Check for 3 things:
Midcycle spotting, which tends to happen more frequently in long cycles, might be caused by a drop in estrogen just before ovulation, or it may indicate fibroids, endometriosis, or cervical or uterine cancer.
A technique called Lunaception has been used to direct fertility and normalize menstrual cylces. Sleeping in complete darkness except for three nights each cycle (to simulate full-moon light, sleep with a 40-watt bulb under a lampshade or with a 75-watt bulb beaming a shaft of light from a nearby bathroom) it is possible to stimulate a regular, healthy menstrual cycle. To acheive pregnancy, have intercourse on the days you sleep by light. To avoid pregnancy, avoid intercourse on the days you sleep with the light. Please use with charting to avoid any mistakes!