Are you one of the growing amount of women using an app to keep track of your cycle? If you are trying to use the app as a natural birth control method, that could be risky.
You may be using an app just to get an idea of when your period is coming, or you may be using it to get an idea of when you are ovulating. The latter may be ok if you are trying to get pregnant (though you can do much better by learning the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness!), but if you are trying to figure out when you are fertile for natural birth control purposes, you could be in for trouble.
If you are trying to figure out when you ovulate and are fertile for birth control purposes, you need to keep track of more than just the days of you cycle. This means that the period tracker app isn’t going to cut it.
Even if the app is telling you your expected date of ovulation.
Even if you have a regular cycle.
Massive drag, right? What is the best way to go about charting your cycle (and the signs you need to be aware of) if you want to track your cycles for use as natural birth control, in that case?
The real meat: What you track
More than any medium you are using, what is really important is what you are actually tracking. This must include cervical fluid. And hopefully temperature, too. Tracking these signs and applying a few rules to what you observe is how you use the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness, which is over 99% effective.
If you don’t track that stuff? Well, then you are actually just guessing when you are fertile based on past cycles. I hate to break it to you, but that is just a variation on the rhythm method. The ineffective rhythm method.
And, of course, in addition to tracking these signs (don’t worry, it’s actually easy to do) you also must understand these signs and apply a few rules to them :)
Now, let’s talk about how you can track and what the pros and cons are of each medium.
Vintage versus techie
Having a physical resource to flip through as a history of your cycles can be really beneficial. This will partially differ based on how you like to view things, but to see your whole cycle and multiple cycles side by side you need the physical paper resource.
Many women like apps because they always have their phones around, and if that is the case for you then maybe it is something that you will want to consider
For me, I love having my notebook with all of my previous charts in it. Any attempt I have made to use apps has not been fruitful.
At the same time, I have clients that LOVE using apps. They find it so much easier and more sustainable to use an app since they always have their phones on them. If this is you, maybe a app is ideal, but let’s dig into what might go wrong if you use an app.
How to evaluate a charting app
Before you even think about downloading that app that is promising cycle tracking and fertility gauging, get a thorough education in the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness. This means, at minimum, read a book like Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Do not try to read a bit online and call it good.
When figuring out if this app is any good, remember what we talked about above. The meat. You should make sure you can input temperature and cervical fluid, number one priority. If not, this app does not support the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness and is NOT going to be helping you figure out your real fertile window.
If all you can input is your period days that is a huge red flag. Especially if the app is trying to predict when you are fertile for birth control purposes.
You MUST have real time data, rather than calculations based on passed cycles, in order to use the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness. It is the difference in between using the rhythm method and the sympto-thermal or ovulation (cervical fluid only) method. The rhythm method is not reliable, whereas the others are.
Next check and see if the app has any predictive properties. Since the good and effective way of figuring out when you are fertile is NOT about predicting ovulation, you should give preference to apps that do not have any predictive properties. If they do, you may be more likely to try to gauge your fertility off of the predictions than your own body signs. Not good!
Make sure not to neglect the most important part: YOU!
Think about how you interact with things like apps. If you think that you will put more weight on the signs your body is giving you than the app, it may not be such a big deal for you to use an app that you really like that also makes some predictions. If you think you would second guess yourself, a predictive app may not be for you. At least not until you spent a while building up your confidence in your body and the signs it’s giving you.
What about you? Have you thought about using an app? Did you ever use one and find you didn’t have enough information to go off of?