“When was the first day of your last menstrual period?”
How many times have you been asked that at the doctor’s office. It seems like no matter what we go in for we’re always asked that.
This is because they are trying to see if you may be pregnant based on the calendar and of course they will confirm further.
How do you answer?
If you immediately looked up into the distance, squinted your eyes or even cocked your head to the side a little…this post is for you.
If you would like to get pregnant or avoid pregnancy naturally meaning without pharmaceutical medications or devices.….this post is for you too.
Planning a pregnancy around busy or less busy seasons at work is a factor working moms face when it comes to family planning.
Let’s review some tips to get a predictable period so you can better predict ovulation and your fertile window.
First of all don’t feel bad if you cant remember the first day of your last period.
To find out what’s predictable for you start charting your menstrual cycle.
Disclaimer : I’m not a physician or fertility specialist, so see them for a detailed care plan if needed.
Phases : more to the cycle
Did you know there’s actually 3 other phases besides to your cycle besides the bleeding or menstruation phase? Each phase plays a role and is named below.
We typically just say follicular and luteal phase, but that will be another post for another day.
If you’ve been struggling to figure out this whole calendar method thing and you’re getting frustrated, confused, or overwhelmed with the fancy medical terminology I don’t blame you.
I’m going to break it down in a simple step wise process in one place for you.
Hormonal birth control is heavily pushed in society and health care but we’re pushing back here and shedding light on effective natural routes for family planning.
If you can track your cycle and get to know your body and when you’re most likely to get pregnant, do you really need synthetic hormones?
Your call…I just want to empower you with some other options so you can start to make an informed decision.
As a pharmacist, contrary to popular belief, we first have to learn non medicinal treatment. I take this to heart and you will find here that I will go the natural route first and then let you know of some medicinal options later if appropriate.
How to do the calendar method
On average the menstrual cycle is about 28 to 32 days per cycle.
Some sources state this method is not thought to work if all your cycles are shorter than 27 days so if that’s you give your doc a call to confirm.
Also, you want to track your cycle of off hormonal birth control because it mimics a 28 day cycle and prevents ovulation.
You’re not getting a true picture of your natural cycle when you’re on the pill. Just make sure you always use backup contraception as you go off the pill.
Step 1 : Track cycle to cycle
Track your cycle length for at least 6 months. The first day of your period is day 1 of your cycle. Count the number of days until the first day of your next period to see how many total days your cycle lasts.
Step 2 : Find day 1
How many days are in your shortest cycle? Subtract 18 from it and that becomes day 1 of your fertile window.
Step 3 : Find the last day
How many days are in your longest cycle? Subtract 11 from it and that becomes the last day in your fertile window.
Step 4 : Plan it carefully
If you want to get pregnant, then plan to conceive during your fertile window. If not, then practice abstinence or another birth control method of your choice.
Step 5 : Keep tracking
Keep on tracking! If the calendar method is your birth control of choice then you need to be tracking your cycle and it’s changes every single month for the best results.
Let’s try an example
Say you track your period for 6 months and get the below results.
|Month 1||Month 2||Month 3||Month 4||Month 5||Month 6|
Day 28 – Day 18 = Day 10 (fertile window opens on day 10)
Day 30 – Day 11 = Day 19 (fertile window closes on day 19)
Most likely days to conceive are days 10-19
Learn your cycle trends
Once you start to identify reliable trends this should give you some peace of mind.
I became increasingly cautious about my health when I got pregnant and then again while nursing. It became more important to me to understand how my body works instead of having someone else guess at figuring it out.
It’s also nice to have some predictability when work and mom life get super busy.
Speaking of being busy. It’s important to know that other factors can impact your menstrual cycle. Stress level, medications and sickness to name a few. Make sure you are aware of this as you track your fertile window.
Here are some stress relieving tips you can use to naturally increase your happy hormone.
Start tracking your cycle. The time is going to pass anyways, so why not do something simple and healthy for your body?! If nothing else you’ll get to know your body. How will you know something is off with your cycle if you don’t know the baseline?
Use an app
I’m not going to send you tips without trying to save you time as well. There are plenty of free smart phone apps to choose from to track your period. They come in handy because you can easily log symptoms and quickly pull up previous months to identify trends.
I use the Ovia Fertility app.
Click here for a quick review of 10 time saving apps to choose from.
Informed family planning
Hopefully this will help you avoid a delightful surprise or plan your bundle perfectly.
Accuracy of strict tracking is key for success with the calendar method, so just a fair warning to make sure you pay attention.
Once you do it a few times, it becomes part of the routine.
I know cycles can seem like they’re non existent until they re-start.
Hopefully these tips took you from confused and misinformed to educated and empowered.
The calendar method is most effective when used with other natural planning options not mentioned here called basal body temperature and cervical mucus.
Thanks for hanging out.