I want to elaborate on something that I think is one of the best aspects of charting you cycles using the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness: Being able to gauge hormonal health.
Not only that, but being able to do so easily and notice anything that is going on early.
When I first started charting, I had extreme amounts of cervical fluid, both pre and post-ovulation, longer cycles (not super long, but averaged about 32 days), lower temperatures overall, and a slow shift into my luteal phase with my temperature and cervical fluid. This is all stuff that indicates that my hormones were not quite right.
In fact, my second cycle I charted was anovulatory, but remains my only anovulatory cycle since charting.
As I tweaked my diet and started being less stressed, my cervical fluid decreased, my cycles shortened, my temps have gone up, and I usually have an extremely crisp transition after ovulation*.
First of all, why are you able to gauge hormonal health by charting?
You need to chart 2 signals daily in order to practice the sympto-thermal method: temperature and cervical fluid. Cervical fluid is produced by increasing amounts of estrogen and dried up by high levels of progesterone. Temperature is increased by high levels of progesterone.
When you learn how to chart, you learn what the typical hormonal cycle looks like as well as what signals your body gives you indicating high or low levels of those hormones.
The length of your cycle and the lightness or heaviness of your period can also give a clue of your hormonal health.
Sure, there are hormones at play that we can’t see via body signals, but you can actually get a good idea of some of the problems that may be going on in your cycle – Just by charting!
Some of the things you can see just by charting your cycles
Longer cycles can be an indication of low hormone levels in general or PCOS (you can get a good idea of which one based on quality and quantity of your cervical fluid), which is characterized by lots of estrogen and testosterone. They can also be due to acute stress, but generally stress induced long cycles will be more of a one-off than a recurring theme.
Low progesterone can be seen in a few ways such as low temperatures after ovulation, fertile quality cervical fluid after ovulation, a slow rise in temperature after ovulation, spotting before your period, or a short luteal phase.
Low estrogen can be seen in low amounts or low quality of cervical fluid, and perhaps a lighter period.
High estrogen can be seen in increasing amounts of cervical fluid and possibly some of the characteristics of low progesterone.
Bad ovulatory pain can be an indicator of endometriosis.
You also have a check on your thyroid. Since our thyroid regulates metabolism, and your metabolism increases or decreases our body temperature, you can see a potential problem with your thyroid based on whether you have high or low temperatures.
How the constant feedback helps
Having feedback each cycle can be wonderful so that you know if you just had one weird cycle (which is almost never going to be a problem) or if you are continually having some kind of imbalance over time.
You also get the added benefit of being able to see what is working and what isn’t. If you start charting and your cycles are a little off, you can get an idea of what might be going on and what you can do to support your hormones back to health. You can then watch your cycles to see if what you are doing is working or not. How friggin’ cool is that?
Seriously, this is one of the best parts of charting. I can’t tell you how amazing I have found it to have body feedback every month. It is so cool to know how my hormones are doing and see how my body reacts to different ways of being treated.
Your cycles can be a massive barometer for your overall physical and emotional health, and having that can help you notice if something isn’t quite right for you. It’s amazing.
*note: my last two cycles were kinda iffy, probably the result of moving to Los Angeles and having the light influence. I have also been eating almost no meat, and my body does much better when I eat meat. I probably never would have taken notice of this if it weren’t for the feedback that I get from charting my cycles!