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Use Fertility Charting To Understand Your Body and PCOS

In 2009, Hubby and I decided that we wanted to start a family. I always suspected I would have issues and when I went off birth control, my period didn’t return for 3 or 4 months. I found it really frustrating and wanted to know what was happening in my body. I had read a lot about fertility charting and how women were using it to help them conceive. I thought I’d give it a go.

For those of you wondering about how PCOS can affect risk factors in pregnancy, I wrote an article about this: PCOS and Pregnancy Risk Factors

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I’ll get into the details of fertility charting in a bit but charting basically allows you to see when you have ovulated. I found this helpful for a number of reasons:

  • I took my charts to my doctor and they aided in my diagnosis of PCOS.
  • I knew when I had ovulated so I knew those months with an erratic cycle were not as a result of pregnancy – it helped manage my disappointment every month.
  • When I DID ovulate, I knew that chances were good that I was pregnant by looking at my graph – and I got my positive pregnancy test 12 days after I ovulated.

Let’s have a look at the basics of fertility charting and then we’ll look at whether it might be something worthwhile for you.

Understanding Fertility Charting

PCOS Fertility Chart Fertility charting is used to monitor your body’s signs of fertility and impending ovulation. Most women without PCOS will show signs of ovulation in the middle of their cycle. During the first half of the cycle (menstruation – ovulation), body temperature is slightly lower. However, once ovulation has occurred, there is a spike in basal body temperature as progesterone is released and prepares your body for pregnancy. It is this increase in temperature over the second half of the cycle that signifies ovulation.

If you have conceived and are pregnant, your temperatures will remain high, even after your period is due. If, however, you have not conceived, it will drop back down to roughly where it was at the beginning of your cycle.

Women also chart their cervical mucus as this changes throughout the cycle. Cervical mucus that has the consistency of an egg white indicates that the body is preparing for ovulation.

Charting is only effective in determining if ovulation has occurred not predicting when it will occur.

The Problem with Fertility Charting with PCOS

So, here’s the problem with charting with PCOS. Many of our cycles are anovulatory. This doesn’t bother me, personally. I would rather know what’s happening with my cycle, even if I haven’t ovulated. What is more of a problem is that many women with PCOS don’t have periods and haven’t for many years. If you fall into this category, charting may not be for you. It may well be too frustrating and there seems little point in charting a cycle when there is no cycle to chart.

If, however, you do have some kind of cycle, even if it ranges from 30-60 days, fertility charting may be a helpful exercise.

Also, charting may be helpful if you have recently started Metformin or Clomid. It will allow you to monitor your own ovulation and therefore the effectiveness of your treatment plan.

If charting seems like it might be a worthwhile exercise for you, let’s have a look at how you go about it.

PCOS Fertility Tracking Chart

How to Chart

  • The first thing you need to do is get hold of a basal thermometer. Your temperature changes are often very small so a digital basal thermometer works best.
  • Take your temperature first thing every morning. It works best if you take it at the same time every day, before you get up. If you get up first, your temperature will change and your readings won’t be as accurate as they could be. Also, it is recommended that you take your temperature after at least 3 hours sleep.
  • Record your reading in a notebook next to your bed or you can use an online charting service like Fertility Friend. They offer a free service where you can log your fertility signs and temperatures and they will even suggest when you ovulated based on your signs and temperatures.
  • You can also make records of other signs life Egg white cervical mucus but this is often not accurate in women with PCOS as we can have EWCM at different times during the month. This means it is not a good predictor of fertility or ovulation.

 

As you begin recording your temperatures, you will begin to see some patterns emerging in your cycle and it will give you a better idea of what is actually happening with your body and your cycles.
I have personally found fertility charting to be a helpful tool in better understanding my body and managing my disappointment while trying to conceive. It might be something worth looking into for you too, if you have something of a regular cycle.

The other benefit of charting is that you can monitor the success of any treatment plans you are trying, whether it is diet and supplements, acupuncture or Metformin. If your treatment is successful, you should see some sort of stabilization of your menstrual cycle and hopefully the return of ovulation.

Have you tried fertility charting with PCOS? If you have, I’d love to hear what you thought, whether you loved it or hated it! Just leave me a comment below!

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Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and PCOS expert who has been a leader in the online PCOS space for over 8 years. Tarryn has the support of leading clinicians from around the world who support her scientific approach to understanding and talking about PCOS this includes all medical journals and ongoing research. You can read more about Tarryn and the team here.

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16 Responses

16 Responses

  1. Hi I’m newly diagnosed, (lean PCOS) any doctor I see, none of them even look at my bbt. I’m told diet exersize and lose weight is the best to do and although there is some room for that in my life I’m not a standard PCOS person. I also find it helpful for managing disappointment. If you have any experience reading charts, are you willing to take a look? What are some apps you recommend? I’ve used so many and they all are missing something I think would be helpful and I haven’t found any completely helpful/easy to use apps!

  2. I am preeti, from India. I am 27 and unable to track ovulation. I gained 33kgs in 3years. Please help with some diet for weight loss in pcod, I really want to start a family.

  3. So I just started charting on OVIA a fertility app. I have PCOS. I didn’t start until a few days before I did a trigger shot. How does one factor that in on my chart. I took clomid for 5 days 7/15/2015-7/20/2015. I did a trigger shot on 7/22/2015 and had an IUI on 7/23/2015. I’m not sure what I should be looking for in charting or if charting will even work. Cd 15 my temp was 97.9 cd 16 97.9 cd 17 97.8 cd 18 98.0 cd 19 98.2 cd 20 98.0 cd 21 98.4. I’m not sure what to make of these numbers! Please help!

  4. Hello! I have PCOS and am 28. I charted for a few months about a year ago and had a sustained temp rise and periods ever cycle accept one annovulatory cycle. My question is, If I have that sustained temp rise did I DEFINITELY ovulate? I have heard that your body can shed the lining even when an egg or eggs did not mature fully (which is why they turn into cysts) So what does anyone think?

  5. I was diagnosed with pcos last month and I felt so frustrated. I am 20 years old and my husband is 58 I am worrying that I will not be able to give him a baby and will never experience to be a mum. I am at metformin,folic acid and clomid now. I am hoping and praying that it will work.So that my step son would have sibling. Good luck to all

    1. Hi , I’m in the same situation I’m 22 and he is 60.. All I wanted is to start a family with him , but because of pcos I’m scared to death its not going to happen ;-(

  6. I just recently started taking metformin and immediately started charting after the doc gave me provera for a cycle. Pcos for me was diagnosed when I was 15 and now I am married, 31 and want to start a family. It is nice to see there are others out there like me and it gives me encouragement to keep up with the program and stay positive so I can hopefully one day conceive a child.

  7. I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 15 then at 16 I had the implanon which completely stopped my periods. I had that taken out last year and I started having periods 52 day cycle’ but my last period was 36 day cycle.
    For a 20 year old I have a lot of stress and responsibility’ my partner of 2 years has asperger syndrome (autism) and adhd’ in his case his mental health is rather (ill say strong).
    Since I can remember I’ve always craved to be a mum’
    I’ve never heard of a PCOS DIET’ But if there is a chance it will improve my chances of being a parent’ ill try anything.

    Does anyone know what’s the best multivitamin to take?

    Thanks so much to the creator of this *in a way I always thought I was alone* Now I know I’m not ♡

  8. Hi tarryn I took an ovulation test to day an there was to lines but one was fainter than the other wat does this mean I’ve bin havin pain in left ovary an some cramping hopin it’s ovulation x

    1. I heard yesterday from Christi Orrechio that if your BBT is lower than 97, you could have a sluggish thyroid, which contributes to infertility.

    2. Hypothyroid causes a low body temp. I would ask your doctor to test your thryoid. I have both PCOS and hypotyroid. My temp never goes above 98* even with thyroid regulating meds.

  9. hello tarry, i think i have pcos because i do not have period for 10 years. now, my doctor diagnose me to have diabetes type 2 which is it so bothering me. 3 months before this, i have my first medical appoinment with my doctor and he ask me to reduce weight. i try to do that, but i always failed. i think this is because i not consistence with my diet program and not exercise regularly due to hectic life with my study. i felt so stress until now…this next monday, i will have my second apppoinment with him. actually, he does not diagnose me yet with pcos, but i think i have it through my readings in your blog! why this disease choose me? =(

    1. It doesn’t choose anyone’ I was diagnosed at 15. If you ask your doctor to refer you to hospital for a ultrasound they will be able to see if you have PCOS. If they can’t see that way (cause your bigger) then they use a probe. They did it that way with me’ I had a lot of cysts and was told straight away then it was confirmed by my GP.
      I Hope everything going okay for you
      Now & in the future x

  10. Hi Tarryn

    thank you so much for the website. i was diagnosed with PCOS two years ago and got married a month ago, we not planning on having babies yet but i feel i should prepare my body in the mean time. you have giving me so much hope with this website and im feeling so motivated, like i can take over the world. i hope this depressing me will wake up and smell the rose. thank you so much.

  11. Thank you so much for the info! I too was diagnosed with PCOS (Early 2012) just before marring my husband. I knew I wanted children and I was so upset to learn that it may be difficult/not possible to do so. I have been on Metformin for almost a year now and have noticed some physical changes and the return of my period BUT no ovulation 🙁 I am now on month 2 of Chlo (with Provera and a VERY long 42 day cycle between). I am noticing changes but I’m so nrevous that I am reading into things I want to see/feel. I just dont want to dissapoint myself monthly. I am charting on FF (great tool) but unfortunately I seem to have a BBT that is all over the place. I read it at the same time every morning (before getting out of bed) but I end up with ranges from 35.3-36.7 Is that too big of a range? Congrats on your little girl! I hope to be in your shoes one of these days!

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