Fertility Awareness Method Explained and Tracking for Health

Fertility Awareness Method Explained and Tracking for Health

If you cringed when Rupi Kaur posted about her period on Instagram then this post is for you. And if you have ever been caught off guard by your period, then this post is for you. Going along with my last post on my health, I want to talk about something that is taboo for most: Reproductive Health.

More specifically, fertility awareness.

Fertility Awareness Method of Birth Control

Yes, that means this post may have some “TMI” included. It’s a little long, but worth every word.

How did I get here?!

When I was younger I learned that people could track their temperature and cervical fluids to help them conceive. One day I thought “If they can achieve pregnancy, then I can AVOID it” and thus my search for a new birth control began. I seriously thought I was a genius with this idea.

I wasn’t entirely sure how it worked as I had never been taught such basic things about my body. I knew that periods happened and the gist of them, but beyond that, I was clueless.

I was determined to make it work though. I have PCOS and Endometriosis and periods are no fun. Besides being painful and heavy, they don’t follow the text-book pattern we have been taught, and are irregular.

I’ve tried multiple forms of birth control including shots, pills, and even an IUD. For me, the synthetic chemicals provided by more mainstream forms of birth control were not working for me.

I wanted a more natural method that wouldn’t make me gain so much weight and feel yucky constantly. That’s when I found the fertility awareness method.

What is the Fertility Awareness Method?

It’s a natural form of birth control not to be confused with the rhythm method or natural family planning. The fertility awareness method is in a league all by itself.

First of all, it is not a guessing game (like the rhythm method is). And it doesn’t require that you completely abstain from sex while fertile like the catholic version of family planning. While the fertility awareness method is a “natural family planning” method, it isn’t quite the same.

There are a few different versions of the fertility awareness method, but most follow similar rules. I use the Sympto-Thermal Method which combines a few different methods. The basic idea is to be aware of and track your fertility at any given moment to help you make certain choices.

How is it done?

Upon waking in the morning you take your temperature and record it on a chart. This is called your basal body temperature. Your BBT varies depending on which part of the cycle your body is currently in. It is lower prior to ovulation and increases after ovulation. I set an alarm for 6am every day to do this. This helps me be consistent because I don’t always wake up at the same time on my own. Being consistent with temperatures is important to get a good reading. Taking your temperature at the same time every day is your best option.

Throughout the day, you check your cervical position and fluids and record those too. The most basic types are none or a dry day, sticky, creamy, eggwhite, and watery. When you piece all of this information together you get something that looks like this:

Interpreting a Cycle

Ovulatory Cycle using Kindara for Fertility Awareness Method - Natural Birth Control

This is a real chart of mine. I use the Kindara app to record all of my observations, but there are multiple other apps or even paper printables to use.

The numbers at the top coincide with the cycle day. So day 1 is the first day of a new period. The numbers on the right represent temperatures. I choose to track in fahrenheit. Some days I did not record a temperature.

Cycle day 1-5 was my period with some spotting on cycle day 6. As you can see, the day I start my period, I quit taking my temperature for a few days after. It’s a nice break from the alarm clock. Since my cycles are usually 5-7 days, I start taking my temp again around the 5th day.

Cervical Fluid

Cycle days 8-11 I recorded creamy consistency for cervical fluid. Days 12-17 are eggwhite. 18-20 I recorded watery. 21 was eggwhite, and 22 and 23 were creamy.

Eggwhite and watery cervical fluid are considered super fertile, but at the first sign of any fluid, one is considered fertile. Because sperm can live 7 days inside the vagina, even creamy or sticky fluid can be fertile.

Following the Rules

Because I am tracking for health purposes, this is pretty much all I chart. Depending on the rules you follow you may want to track more or less. I do check my cervical position, but don’t record it.

The P on cycle day 21 stands for Peak. This is the LAST day of fertile fluid. This does NOT mean the peak fertility day. The numbered blue circles are considered “days past ovulation”. Based on this chart above, I ovulated around cycle day 21 or 22. Despite what some may tell you, there is no way to chart WHEN you ovulated, just to confirm that you have.

Temperature Shifts and Ovulation

Remember when I said my cycles don’t follow a text-book pattern? Text-books state ovulation happens on day 14. This has never been true for me. I typically don’t see a shift, indicating ovulation until day 20 or beyond.

You can see two distinct temperature ranges in this chart. On cycle day 23 I had a temp shift. My temperature increased by at least 0.2 degrees above the last 6 temperatures which is what is required for a shift. In order to confirm ovulation, this rise in temperature must be sustained for at least 3 days.

Some people may experience a slow rise in temperature, but mine are usually sudden. After an egg is released, it dies within 24 hours if not fertilized.

Anovulatory Cycles

Sometimes I don’t have a temp shift at all, even though I experience fertile fluid. This means that I did not ovulate despite my body trying. This is a result of my PCOS, but anovulatory cycles can happen to anybody. This chart below is an example of an anovulatory chart. You can see that I observed fertile fluid, but nothing came out of it.

(Side note: The peak day is not marked correctly on this chart below. It should be day 41.)

Anovulatory cycle using Kindara and the Fertility Awareness Method of Natural Birth Control

On cycle day 44 of this chart I started bleeding. A bleed that happens after an anovulatory cycle is not a true period. If you are following rules like the Doering rule, you must remember that you are still considered fertile after this bleed and rules like the 5 day rule don’t apply. You can only use those rules if you confirmed ovulation in the pervious chart, along with some other requirements. Jennifer breaks it down in The Rules of the Sympto-Thermal Method.

Unprotected vs Protected Sex

When using this method to avoid pregnancy, you can have unprotected sex as long as you follow the rules. Because the egg dies within 24 hours after ovulation, once you have confirmed ovulation with a temperature shift of at least 3 temperatures 0.2 degrees above the last 6, you can have unprotected sex without risk of pregnancy.

For example, in the first chart above I could have had unprotected sex on cycle day 26, after ovulation was confirmed. In the second chart, since ovulation was not confirmed, unprotected sex on the 26th cycle day would have been risky.

In the first chart I also could have had unprotected sex on cycle days 1-5, 7, and from 26-34. The other days, protection would be needed to avoid pregnancy. Some of these days are based off of the dry day rule and Doering rule mentioned above and may not apply to you. Be sure you meet all criteria in order to use these rules.

Benefits of Fertility Awareness Method

Because I have charted for many many cycles, I am very in tune with my body. I know how long my luteal phase is and I can pinpoint the day I will start my period as soon as I have confirmed ovulation. Anovulatory cycles don’t apply.

Charting can also give you insight into problems such as low progesterone, anovulatory cycles (remember, bleeding doesn’t always mean you ovulated), thyroid function, and more.

In Conclusion

This method takes some work. If you can’t remember to take a pill every day, then you probably won’t be good at this. And just like a birth control pill, you can’t blame it’s effectiveness on a user that doesn’t follow directions. If you miss a pill, you could get pregnant. That isn’t the birth control pill’s fault. The same is true for this method. In this method, if you don’t follow the rules, you can have an unintended pregnancy. That is a USER error and not a result of ineffectiveness of the method.

If you are using this as a method of birth control, it is imperative that you follow ALL of the rules. I recommend the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. This book goes in depth and teaches you way more than this post could.

You can get it on Amazon using my affiliate link below:

Taking Charge of Your Fertility

Have you heard of this method before? 
Do you have any questions about it?
Do you use it or know somebody who does? 

Health Update and Habit Tracker Freebie

Health Update and Habit Tracker Freebie

At the beginning of the month, my daughter had an appointment at a Weight Loss Management Clinic. They recommended I start tracking her calories to reduce her intake.

I did.

And as a family, we made a choice to get healthier together, so I also started tracking my own.

I already know that I do better when I track my calories, so I asked for recommendations for calorie counting apps from my friends. The majority of people recommended My Fitness Pal. I had previously used another app, but went with their recommendations. The first couple days I tracked my calories just to see how much I was eating, but I was also aware of how much they recommended I take each day and definitely ate less than I would have. I think that simply by knowing how many calories they wanted me to take, I was subconsciously eating less.

Amount of calories consumed since I began tracking

According to their calculations using my weight, height, activity level, and desired weight loss, they gave me 1,550 calories per day. 1,550 calories sounds like a big number, but when you are eating crap food, it goes fast!

Weight Loss

As you can see in the image above, I started keeping track on the 13th of March. I went way over the recommended calories those first two days, but did better the next day. Also, make note that I kept going over.. by like 300-500 calories each day! Some days I went even beyond that. Some days it was less.

The crazy thing? I’ve already lost 7 pounds!

SEVEN POUNDS!

That may not seem like much, but when you have 40+ pounds to lose, 7 is a lot!

And I’ve done it only by keeping track of my calories. One day I walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes, but have done nothing else.

Out of the 16 days picture, I was only under my calorie limit 4 days. A few days I didn’t go over by much.

Habit Tracker

Doing this, I have learned that simply by tracking, I am making a difference. I got to wondering what else would change if I started tracking my habits? I created this habit tracking printable to help give me insight into some areas of my life.

The cool thing is that this habit tracking worksheet can track anything you want. There are enough spots to track a habit for 30 days.. and they say it only takes 21 days to form a habit.

I’ve made these habit tracking worksheets available for free download by clicking on one of the links below. You can choose from pink, green, blue, or black and white.

Habit Track for Tracking Habits (Blue)

Habit Track for Tracking Habits (BW)

Habit Track for Tracking Habits (Green)

Habit Track for Tracking Habits (Pink)

What habits would you track to form, or break?

Day Out at the Outlets of Little Rock

 

This post has been made possible by the Outlets of Little Rock. Compensation has been provided for my time and social media influence. All opinions are my own.
Day Out at the Outlets of Little Rock

There are two things I love: Shopping and Starbucks! Luckily, the Outlets of Little Rock has both. They opened up in late 2015 with over 50 stores to choose from. Over 50 stores y’all! Today, I got to go shopping with some fellow bloggers and enjoy delicious treats from a variety of shops.

Outlets of Little Rock

We made our way around the stores, collecting goodies and filling our bellies as we went. I think I added about 5 million things to my Wishlist. This pair of shoes was one of them.

I would die for this shoe from Corkys Footwear

Others stops included Tommy Hilfiger, Corky’s Footwear, and Beef Jerky Outlet. I had no clue they even made Kangaroo jerky! We tasted different kinds of Jerky

Kangaroo Jerky from Beef Jerky Outlet

Sweetness Overload

One of my favorite stops was the Lindt store where we learned how to use our 5 senses to enhance our chocolate experience. I thought I already knew how to enjoy chocolate, but they helped me really enjoy it.

Lindt Five Senses Demonstration

Starbucks spoke my love language by providing drinks and samplings to the bloggers. I went with my typical Starbucks order of a Caramel Macchiato.

Caramel Macchiato

Giving Back

The Outlets are getting the community involved in different ways. In February, they hosted a Wish-A-Thon to raise money for Make A Wish children, and served Coffee with Cops in January. Coming up on April 22nd is a Food Truck Festival. This is a great way to get your grub on and support a cause. Some vendors are Black Hound BBQ, Eat at Eric’s, and Cypress Knee Food.

If you are shopping for a gift for somebody, the Outlets of Little Rock is the place to go. They seriously have something for everybody. I can’t wait to go back with the kids.

 

How To Be A Blogging Boss (And Stay On Track With Blogging)

How To Be A Blogging Boss (And Stay On Track With Blogging)

Do you know a Blogging Boss? Somebody who does it all, has a super busy life, yet consistently produces quality content? I call these people Blogging Bosses. I picked the brains of some of my favorite blogging bosses and what they told me was all similar. Here is how to be a Blogging Boss and stay on track with blogging.

How To Be A Blogging Boss - Tips to Stay on Track With Blogging by Aduke Schulist

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. 

Plan Ahead

Keep a list of everything that must be done and use it to plan ahead. Prioritize tasks and complete the most important ones first. Use a calendar, app, physical planner, or something that helps you see what needs to be done on a daily basis. Use what fits your lifestyle.

Keep a list of all the “overdue” tasks that need to be done. This includes those things you have been pushing back for weeks or months. Schedule these tasks into your plan. Make it a priority to complete one of these tasks every week until you are caught up.

Write in Batches

If you are anything like me, then it is sometimes hard to sit down and focus on writing a blog post. There are so many distractions and my mind just isn’t in it.

Pick a day to just write posts. You will be amazed at how many posts you can get written in a single day.  When I get those moments where I am really focused and my mind is there, I’ve found it easy to knock out 3 or 4 posts before even getting up. Then…

Schedule Content

Once you have written a few blog posts, schedule them throughout the week or month, depending on how often you publish new articles. When I finally sat down and put together a plan for this blog, I decided that every 4th day I would post an article. This way it is easy for me to keep up with what needs to be done and I am able to schedule posts in advance.

Be Consistent With Images

I recently found this one out the hard way. I always just made an image depending on the mood I was in. This wasn’t good for a lot of reasons. For one, it took a lot of time, and for two, my brand wasn’t easily recognizable by the images I was putting out. When I started using a template that I had created for my images I found it so much easier and less stressful. I felt like I was a blogging boss. Now, all of my images match and it only takes me a few seconds to create an image.

Get up Early

This is not one I find myself doing… like EVER! I’m not a morning person, and getting up early to work is not appealing to me. I haven’t found myself setting alarms yet, but if they say it works, then I probably should.

I am more of the stay up late kind of blogger who is working when the kids are in bed. Plus, my kids are awake the moment they hear noise in the house.

Work Time = Work Time

Stay focused and on task by making work time only for work. Set a timer if you need to, and take short breaks for every 15-20 minutes that you work, but schedule time just for work.

I call myself multitasking, but that’s basically me saying I am not truly focusing on my work when I am working. I tend to have twelve windows and two or three conversations going at anytime. I know I could get a lot more done if I followed this advice consistently and closed out those distractions. Being a single parent who homeschools, I also find this one a little hard. I don’t really have time away from my kids, so interruptions are constant. Perhaps that is where getting up early comes into play.

Be Passionate

There came a point in my blogging career where I felt like I was blogging for everybody else and not for me and I noticed that I basically quit. That’s when I had to reignite the passion I had for blogging and get back to my roots.

If you are passionate about your blog, then it will come easy. But if you aren’t, switch things up until it feels right.

Goals

With all that said, I have some ideas of what I need to work on and I already have some goals on my blog report, but thought I should make a few more goals. These are all things I am committing to completing before my next blog report on May 5th.

  • Create Privacy Policy/Disclosure
  • Create an email list
  • Finish editorial calendar through June
  • Clear 2 sticky notes off of computer (These are lists of overdue tasks. I currently have 9 sticky notes on there and they are all full. Some have been there for a ridiculously long time.)

What are some ways you rock your blog as a blogging boss?

Do you have any overdue tasks?  

 

Beginning Photography Equipment on a Budget

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I may be rewarded.

I’ve had a few questions regarding what equipment I use and what is on my Wishlist as a beginning photographer. I gotta say, I am a Nikon girl, so most of these are Nikon specific. I am also the type of girl who reads endless reviews before making a big purchase, and I consider my camera equipment big purchases (no matter what the final cost), so I feel like I have gotten the most bang for my buck. Here is my beginning photography equipment:

Beginning Photography Equipment

What I Own:

Camera Body Nikon D3100 w/ 18-55 Kit Lens

I picked my camera body and 18-55 kit lens up at a local Wal-Mart many years back. This is my first Nikon and having had bad experiences with Canon cameras previously, I find that I prefer Nikon now. This is a very basic entry level DSLR camera. Since this model, many more have come out, but if you are looking to get into photography and get a DSLR on a budget, this may be an option for you. You can find them refurbished or second-hand at a great price.

Additional Camera Lens 55-200

When I purchased my camera, it actually came with two kit lens. The 18-55 mentioned above, and this 55-200. I found myself mostly using the 18-55 as I was shooting indoors a lot with little space, but as I am getting into outdoor shoots, I am loving the 55-200. It’s a decent zoom lens for the price.

Speedlight T556

Lighting is a struggle for almost any photographer. My first lighting purchase was the Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite. As with all of my equipment, this is a very basic speedlite, but does exactly what I need it to. As you can see below, studio lighting is on my wishlist, but for now, the versatility of a speedlite fit my needs (and budget) better.

Photoshop and Lightroom

A photography session doesn’t end when the last picture is taken. The work continues on the computer. Now that I feel like I have taking pictures under control, I am working on editing them. I held off so long on purchasing something that I had no clue how to use, but with the aide of lots of tutorials, webinars, and YouTube videos, I am learning how to edit. I like that it’s affordable and I will always have the latest version without having to fork over more money.

And that’s really about it. I have a tripod, but mostly use that for videography (*ahem YouTube*) and rarely for photography.

What’s on my Wishlist

Nikon D500 Body

I have told myself time and time again that I wanted to master my camera and learn all I could about photography before upgrading the body, and I feel like I am close to being there. I am currently looking at the D500 as a body upgrade. It costs about three times as much as my current body, but has so much more potential. Then again, I’d love to have a full-frame body.

50mm 1.8 Lens for Portraits

This lens has been on my wishlist for way too long. It’s not a particularly expensive lens, I just never have the extra cash for it. I feel like I am at the point where upgrading my lens will help me achieve the look in images that I can’t with the basic kit lenses I have.

Lighting

As mentioned above, I currently only have a speedlite as far as lighting goes, but dream about some proper studio lights. I haven’t done too much research into exactly what I want, but have been eyeing these. I want the ability to light my subjects from different angles which a speedlite doesn’t have.

Clamps for Backdrops

I have always had a desire to photograph newborns. I’ve been practicing with my niece a lot and find that I really need to invest in some clamps to hold blankets and backdrops in place.

There are some other things I’d love to get like additional memory cards, a new camera strap, extra batteries and other “accessories” but find that those don’t particularly affect the quality of my images.

Curious to see the pictures I have taken? Find me on Facebook Aduke Schulist Photography.

Interested in any of this beginning photography equipment? Check out Amazon Prime Free Shipping to get it to you quicker. You can try it for free by clicking the image below.

Do you own a DSLR?

What brand of cameras do you prefer?