Fertility Charting FAQ

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General Charting

When is the best time to start charting my fertility?

It’s a good idea to start your first fertility chart at the beginning of your period – that is, Day 1 of your cycle. This will ensure that you get a FULL menstrual cycle charted and this can make it easier to interpret your chart.

Having said that, you CAN begin charting your fertility on ANY day of your menstrual cycle. All you need is the date that your last period started.  See below for details.

I don’t want to wait until my next period comes before I start charting my fertility. Can I start charting now?

Yes, absolutely! The details on how to do this are discussed in the Step 1 Part 1 video presentation. Alternatively, please read the quick instructions below:

Paper fertility charts:
Take a new paper fertility chart and write the date that your last period started in the first box of the ‘Date’ row, at the top of the chart. This date will also sit in the first column of the chart, which corresponds to Day 1 of your cycle. If you’re not 100% sure when your last period started, a rough guess will do! Next, fill in the subsequent dates until you reach the date for which you wish to start recording data. By casting your eye vertically down to the ‘Day of cycle’ row, you will see what Day of the cycle this date corresponds to. Start recording your cervical fluid and temperature data from this day onwards.

Please check out the Step 1 Part 1 video presentation, for more detailed information.

Online charting system:
When you log in to the online charting system for the first time, you’ll be prompted to enter the date that your last period started. Once you’ve submitted this date, the system will automatically set it as Day 1 of your current cycle.

You can then start entering your data from any subsequent day of the cycle. Simply use the arrows or calendar icon at the top right corner of the screen to select the date from which you wish to start entering data and you’re ready to begin!

Please check out the Step 1 Part 1 video presentation, for more detailed information.

When do I start a new  fertility chart?

Paper fertility charts:
When your next period starts, take a new paper fertility chart and start again from Day 1.  You can ‘finish off’ the previous chart by drawing a vertical line down the right hand side of the last day of your cycle.

Online charting system:
When your next period starts, just record this bleeding as you would normally.  The system will automatically start a new cycle for you.

I’m using paper fertility charts but my cycle is longer than 35 days.  What should I do?

All you need to do in this situation is just glue or sellotape two charts together – then change the cycle days on the second chart to say 36, 37, 38 etc

Bleeding

A true period is the bleeding that occurs in response to an egg being released at ovulation, without a resulting pregnancy. Your period should normally start 10 – 16 days after your day of ovulation (depending on your individual luteal phase length).
Once bleeding begins, it usually lasts between 3 and 7 days, and will usually follow one of two general bleeding patterns:

Light – Heavy – Medium – Light – Very Light
Heavy – Heavy – Medium – Medium – Light

A normal amount of blood loss is about 6 – 8 teaspoons over the entire period.

If you are concerned that your bleeding is not normal, please check out the resource ‘Your Guide to – normal versus abnormal bleeding’ from Step 3 of the Program.

How do I tell the difference between light, medium and heavy bleeding?

Menstrual flows vary from woman to woman, but the following is a general guideline:

Light Bleeding: Bleeding is often thin and can be red/brown in colour. A low absorbency pad or tampon provides adequate protection and you could last several hours between changes (for purposes of health and hygiene however, sanitary protection should be changed at least every 4 hours during the day).

Medium Bleeding: Bleeding is typically bright red in colour and a regular pad or tampon needs to be changed every 2 – 3 hours.

Heavy Bleeding: Bleeding is thick and bright red. A high absorbency pad or tampon is needed every 1 – 2 hours.

What is the difference between spotting and bleeding?

Spotting: Spotting is often seen at the beginning or end of a period. You may notice a small amount of brown, pink or red blood, mixed in with cervical fluid or on its own. This can be seen on your underwear or on the toilet tissue when you wipe yourself. Because the amount is so little, a pad or tampon is not usually required. Instead a panty liner can be used to protect your underwear.

Bleeding: In contrast, bleeding requires you to wear a pad or tampon. Bleeding describes actual blood flow, which can be light, medium or heavy. A new menstrual cycle begins on the first day that you experience actual blood flow, not just spotting. This is designated as Day 1 of the cycle.

Cervical Fluid

I don’t experience any fertile cervical fluid. Will this prevent pregnancy?

The presence of fertile-quality cervical fluid is crucial for sperm transport and survival and an absence of this fluid can therefore prevent pregnancy. Although eggwhite cervical fluid is generally considered the most fertile type of fluid, pregnancy is still possible as long as the fluid you produce is wet enough to transport and nurture the sperm. For some women, creamy fluid will perform this function adequately.

For further information on factors that can interfere with the production of fertile cervical fluid along with some possible solutions, please check out the resource ‘Your Guide to – factors affecting Cervical Fluid’ from Step 2 of the Program.

My fertile fluid is really watery and not like mucus.  Is that normal?

Fertile eggwhite cervical fluid has a high water content but usually also has a stretchy, slimy consistency, just like raw egg white.  Pregnancy is certainly possible with very watery cervical fluid, however in some cases, without this viscosity sperm may not be able to swim properly.

If you have timed intercourse for your most fertile days, for at least 6 menstrual cycles without getting pregnant (and no other fertility issues are identified), the watery cervical fluid may be a problem.

For further information on factors that can interfere with the production of fertile cervical fluid, along with some possible solutions, please check out the resource ‘Your Guide to – Factors affecting Cervical Fluid’ from Step 2 of the program.

I experience a wet sensation just before my period arrives. Does that mean I’m fertile again?

A wet sensation just prior to the onset of your period is very common. You may also observe an increase in cervical fluid at this time, which may look fertile.

These symptoms are due to the physiological changes that occur just before your period starts and are NOT signs of returning fertility.

I don’t experience a wet sensation, only damp or dry. Does this matter?

A wet (or very damp) sensation is often experienced as cervical fluid becomes more abundant and fertile in quality just before ovulation. This symptom can help back up the cervical fluid changes that you observe at this time.

Not all women experience a wet sensation during their fertile time each cycle, however. You may feel only slightly damp or notice no change in sensation at all. It’s important to note that wearing a panty liner will definitely make it difficult to notice sensation!

I saw fertile cervical fluid a few days ago and now I’m seeing more again. I don’t think I’ve ovulated. What’s going on?

It can sometimes take more than one ‘attempt’ at ovulation before the egg is finally released.  This can result in multiple patches of cervical fluid being produced. This situation is more common in long cycles and can be caused by stress or illness before ovulation.

Long cycles with multiple patches of cervical fluid can also indicate a hormonal imbalance and this is particularly common with a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). If you frequently experience these long or erratic cycles, it’s important that you get checked out by your doctor.

Until you see a sustained temperature rise indicating that ovulation has occurred, make sure you have intercourse during these fertile patches, to maximise your chances of conceiving.

For more information on this topic, check out Step 3 of the Program.

My eggwhite cervical fluid has streaks of blood in it. Should I be concerned?

If you notice that your fertile cervical fluid is tinged or streaked with red, pink or brown blood, you may be experiencing ovulatory spotting. This spotting can occur around ovulation when you are very fertile and is most likely due to the hormonal changes that occur at this time. It’s a great secondary fertility sign to let you know that baby-making should be on the agenda!

If the spotting does not coincide with ovulation, appears as bright red bleeding or lasts for more than a couple of days, you may need to get this checked by your health professional.

For more information, please check out the resource ‘Your Guide to – normal versus abnormal bleeding’ from Step 3 of the Program.

Sometimes I notice a transparent smear on the tissue paper – how do I record this?

Sometimes cervical fluid can be so minimal that it appears as a transparent smear on the tissue paper. It’s texture will help you decide how to record it.

If the amount of fluid is so minimal that you can’t pick it up between your fingers, and it is sticky or tacky to the touch, this would be recorded as ‘Sticky’. However, if the fluid is slimy or slippery to the touch, can be picked up with your fingers or is accompanied by a slippery sensation when you wipe yourself, this would be recorded as ‘Eggwhite’.

We recently had sex and I can’t be sure that what I’m seeing is cervical fluid. How do I record this?

Both sexual arousal fluid and semen can look and feel like fertile cervical fluid. For this reason it’s not advisable to check your cervical fluid after intercourse or when you are feeling sexually aroused.

If you observe fluid that looks like eggwhite cervical fluid, but you think it could also be semen or sexual arousal fluid, record it as eggwhite but make a note of your uncertainty on your chart.

For more information on telling the difference between these fluids, please check out the resource ‘Your Guide to – factors affecting Cervical Fluid’ from Step 2 of the Program.

My temperature went up yesterday – why am I still seeing fertile cervical fluid?

The production of fertile cervical fluid usually ends on the day of ovulation.   This is because the hormone progesterone is secreted into your bloodstream after ovulation – and this hormone stops the production of fertile fluid.

It’s not uncommon however, to sometimes observe fertile cervical fluid the day after ovulation. This is because:

  • it can take a day or so for the last of the fertile fluid to come out of your body and/or
  • it may take a little extra time for the hormone progesterone to ‘kick in’ and dry it up

 

If you notice fertile fluid the day after ovulation – take a closer look. You may find that although it’s still clear and stretchy, it has lost its shiny, watery quality and has become slightly rubbery or tacky. This distinguishes it from the true fertile fluid, which occurs prior to ovulation.

My chart shows that I ovulated several days ago, but I’m experiencing fertile cervical fluid again. What’s going on?

Occasionally you may experience creamy or fertile quality cervical fluid several days after ovulation due to an increase in the hormone estrogen, which is being secreted by your ovaries at this time. It’s not uncommon to experience this fluid a week or so into your luteal phase.

If your chart clearly indicates that ovulation has already occurred, you can rest assured that you’re no longer fertile. However, if you’re not sure whether ovulation has taken place, consider yourself potentially fertile at this time and make the most of it!

How many days of fertile cervical fluid will I see?

The number of days that fertile cervical fluid is produced varies from woman to woman. You can expect to produce fertile fluid for anywhere from 1 to 5 days. In a normal cycle, this fertile cervical fluid will appear during the days just prior to ovulation and will disappear once ovulation is over.

Younger women tend to have more days of fertile cervical fluid, while women in their late 30s and early 40s may produce it for only 1 or 2 days.

I’ve recently come off the pill and my cervical fluid doesn’t seem to fit the expected pattern. Why is this?

Cervical fluid can be affected for up to several months after coming off the pill (or other hormonal contraception). You may experience one of the following situations:

1. Very little or no cervical fluid, even around the time of ovulation

2. Ongoing fertile-quality cervical fluid that is watery or milky

3. Different types of cervical fluid with no obvious pattern

The good news is, that these side-effects from the use of hormonal contraception will usually disappear within a few months and a normal cervical fluid pattern (See Step 2 Part 1 of the program) should resume.

I’m finding it really confusing differentiating between the different types of cervical fluid. Is that normal?

Many women find it a challenge to differentiate between the different types of cervical fluid at first. Please feel reassured that this is very normal for the first couple of cycles! It will get easier and easier, as you become more familiar with the variations of cervical fluid that you produce and what they mean.

Remember that if your fluid appears to be a mix between 2 different types, you can record it as such eg. S/C (sticky/creamy) or C/E (creamy/eggwhite).

To help you with your observations, you might like to refer to the ‘Cervical Fluid Variations’ resource from Step 1 of the program.

Temperature

I often get up at night to go to the toilet or tend to my toddler. Will this affect my temperatures?

This will depend on your individual metabolism and how often you are awake. Record any unsettled sleep patterns on your chart. For many women, night waking does not affect their temperature recordings, so long as they get a 2 – 3 hour block of sleep before taking their temperature at the normal time.

If you wake within that final 3 hours of sleep, you may want to take your temperature then, as well as at your normal time. For example, if you normally take your temperature at 6.30 am but you wake at 5 am to go to the bathroom, you won’t get a 3 hour block of sleep before your normal wake time. So in this case, take your temperature at 5 am and then again at 6.30am and compare them. Use the temperature that is the most consistent with your other temperatures.

If you consistently wake at the same time within your final 3 hours of sleep, for example if your partner gets up for work, it might be best to move your temperature taking to this time, even if you go back to sleep afterwards.

I’m about to travel to a different time zone and I want to continue charting while I’m away. How should I deal with the time change?

If you are changing time zones during your travel, there’s a good chance that your temperatures will be impacted, because effectively you’ll be taking them earlier or later than usual. The degree to which they are affected will depend on your individual metabolism and the extent of your travel. Any effects on temperature should only last a couple of days or so.

If you are travelling during the luteal phase of your cycle, a disruption in your temperatures won’t matter. However, if you are changing time zones around the time of ovulation, your temperature shift may be more difficult to detect.

Continue taking your temperature at the same time as usual (in the new local time) but record this situation on your chart, to explain any anomalies. If your travel occurs around the time of ovulation, pay particular attention to cervical fluid and secondary fertility signs to help identify your fertile days.

I do shift work and regularly wake up at different times. How should I take my temperature?

Shift work can make temperature taking more challenging, but it can be done!

Take your temperature after your longest, most settled period of sleep, even if this means taking it when you wake in the afternoon or evening. Ideally you want to take your temperature after at least a 3-hour block of sleep. Take your temperatures at the same time as often as you can.

This goes for your days off too. If you go back to a more normal sleep pattern during these days, take your temperature when you wake, as consistently as possible. Note these time differences in the ‘Notes’ section of your paper chart.

If you’re using the online charting system, select ‘Earlier than usual’ or ‘Later than usual’ under ‘Taken’ in the data entry section. You may like to record the exact time you took your temperature in the Notes section under ‘Additional Data’.

My period has finished, but my temperatures are still high and they haven’t dropped to their pre-ovulatory level. Could I be pregnant?

Temperatures will normally drop to their pre-ovulatory level just before or during your period. If your temperatures remain high after your period has finished however, there is a good chance that you are pregnant, particularly if the bleeding you experienced was lighter or of shorter duration than normal.

It would be wise to take a pregnancy test to find out.

My chart clearly showed ovulation but now my temperature has dipped down to the pre-ovulation level. What does this mean?

The occasional low temperature after ovulation is nothing to worry about. It can be a ‘fluke’ occurrence or might be explained by factors such as unsettled sleep, illness or alcohol the night before.

If the temperature drop is experienced in the middle of the luteal phase, there’s a good chance that it’s due to hormonal changes at this time, especially if it coincides with more creamy or fertile looking cervical fluid.

If your temperature drops towards the end of your luteal phase, it is usually a sign that your period is on its way.

Do I need to take my temperature while I have my period?

This will very much depend on your cycle length. If your cycles are on the short side and you typically ovulate before Day 11, it is advisable to take your temperature during your period. This will allow enough temperature data to be recorded in order to establish your phase of lower temperatures before ovulation. If you typically ovulate on Day 11 or later, you can skip temperature recording during the first 5 days of your cycle, if you wish.

While you are learning to chart your fertility and becoming familiar with your unique fertility pattern, we strongly advise that you chart your entire cycle.

My temperatures don’t seem to show a sustained rise and the online charting system hasn’t detected ovulation.

Occasionally a chart may look anovular (without ovulation) even though ovulation has occurred. If your temperatures are particularly erratic or you don’t have enough reliable information recorded on your chart, it may be impossible to identify ovulation. Consistent recording of fertility signs is crucial for accurate chart interpretation.

A very small percentage of women do not show a clear temperature rise after ovulation. If your cycles are regular, and you consistently experience a patch of fertile cervical fluid 10 – 16 days before your next period, you may in fact be ovulating despite the absence of a bi-phasic chart. A progesterone blood test 7 days after your fertile fluid disappears will help establish if you are ovulating.

Alternatively, you may indeed have experienced an anovular cycle. A cycle without ovulation could turn out to be a one-off instance or a common occurrence. Anovular cycles will definitely affect your ability to become pregnant, because without an egg, fertilisation and pregnancy cannot occur.

For information on possible causes of anovulation and what you can do about it, please check out the resource ‘Your Guide to – Anovulation’ from Step 3 of the Program.

My temperatures are really low and go below the range shown on the paper fertility charts. What should I do and what does this mean?

If you are using the paper fertility charts and your temperatures are consistently lower (or higher) than the range shown on the chart, you can modify the temperature range on the left hand side of the chart to suit.

Pre-ovulatory basal body temperatures normally fall between about 36.3 and 36.7℃. If you find that your temperatures before ovulation consistently sit below 36.3℃, you could have a low functioning thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), particularly if you experience other symptoms common to the condition.

Because thyroid problems can affect fertility, it’s important to get this possibility checked out by your doctor. See Step 3 of the Program for more information on thyroid dysfunction.

Alternatively, you may just have a thermometer that measures low. This can be checked out by trying a different thermometer (a cheaper thermometer may not have the same level of accuracy as a more expensive one).

If you do change thermometers however, make sure you do it at the start of a new cycle, so that you use the same thermometer through an entire cycle.

I understand that my temperatures will fluctuate slightly from day to day, but mine seem to be all over the place! Is that normal?

Temperatures will generally go up and down from day to day by about 0.1 to 0.2 ℃. Erratic temperatures that fluctuate by 0.3 ℃ or more may be due to a number of reasons.

Firstly, don’t worry if this is happening during your period. It’s quite common for temperatures to be high or erratic during this time. They should settle within a few days.

Make sure that you are taking your temperatures consistently each day, at approximately the same time and after at least a 3-hour block of sleep. Ensure also that you have a good quality thermometer and that the batteries don’t need changing. Some thermometers beep slowly while recording your temperature and then emit a number of fast beeps on completion. So if you have one of these, make sure you don’t whip the thermometer out of your mouth on the first beep!

Remember also, that factors such as unsettled sleep, illness or alcohol the night before can cause significant changes in temperature.

If none of these factors are contributing to your erratic temperatures, you may want to consider taking your temperature vaginally (ie carefully place the thermometer inside your vagina each morning, instead of in your mouth).  Whichever way you decide to take your temperature (orally or vaginally), just make sure that you continue to use the same method throughout your cycle.

Should I remove temperature spikes or dips from my chart?

If you have an occasional temperature spike or dip that obviously does not fit the pattern of your other temperatures, you can remove these from your fertility chart.  This will help to make interpreting your chart easier.  Try to only remove dips or spikes that vary from your usual temperature range by 0.3℃ or more.

To remove a single spike or dip – paper fertility chart:
1) Erase the temperature which gives the spike or dip
2) Join the temperatures on either side of the misfitting temperature with a dotted line

To remove a single spike or dip – online charting system:
1) Go back to the date on which the spike or dip occurred by clicking on that column of the fertility chart.
2) Click the ‘Clear temperature’ button. This temperature will be removed, and the two temps either side will be joined by a dotted line.

Cervix

I don’t feel comfortable checking my cervix. How important is it?

Checking the position and texture of your cervix is another great fertility sign to let you know whether you are fertile or not. However, because BBT and cervical fluid alone are usually enough to accurately identify your fertile window, changes in the cervix are considered an ‘optional’ fertility sign.

Many women enjoy having the additional information that cervical palpation provides. It can offer reassurance by backing up the other fertility signs, especially if there is any ambiguity. Cervical palpation can also be particularly helpful in situations where cervical fluid is minimal or difficult to observe; in this case, changes in the cervix can be used in lieu of cervical fluid.

If you’re getting adequate information from your BBT and cervical fluid, and you’d rather not check your cervix, rest assured that it’s not something you have to do!

Do I have to check my cervix throughout my whole cycle? If not, what are the best days to check?

It is not necessary to check your cervix across your entire cycle. However, it can take some practice to recognise the subtle changes that occur in the cervix, so initially it may help to check every day.

The purpose of cervical palpation is to recognise the beginning and end of your fertile window each cycle. So ideally you want to start checking your cervix several days before ovulation, just before your cervical fluid starts to build in volume and become fertile.

Once the cervix has changed back to its infertile state after ovulation, you don’t need to continue checking.

I can’t reach my cervix. How should I record this?

When you are at your most fertile, the cervix is at its highest point at the top of the vagina. For some women, this means that they can no longer reach it. If you have easily felt your cervix in the past, but now it’s ‘disappeared’, it’s likely that you are very fertile so record your cervix as high, open, soft.

If this is the first time that you have tried to find your cervix, keep trying over the next few days, particularly when you notice that your fertile cervical fluid has dried up. Once you are no longer fertile, your cervix will be lower in the vagina and easier to find.

For more detailed information on cervical palpation, check out the ‘Cervical Palpation Cue Card’ in the Additional Resources section of your Program.

I thought that the cervical opening is supposed to close when I’m infertile. Mine seems to stay open all the time.

If you have given birth vaginally before, you’ll probably find that the entrance to your cervix (cervical os) never fully closes. In addition, you may notice that the opening feels more like a horizontal slit, rather than the circular dimple that is normally felt by women who haven’t given birth.

You may be able to detect slight changes in the cervical opening as your fertility status changes but if you can’t, don’t worry. Just pay attention to the height and texture of the cervix.

For more detailed information on cervical palpation, check out the ‘Cervical Palpation Cue Card’ in the Additional Resources section of your Program.

Intercourse timing

When is the best time to have sex to optimise our chances of getting pregnant?

Any intercourse that occurs within the 2 or 3 days before ovulation and in the presence of fertile cervical fluid carries an excellent chance of conceiving. A good, general rule is to have intercourse every day or every second day from the appearance of fertile cervical fluid until ovulation is confirmed with a rise in temperature.

For further information on taking a more strategic approach and for those with sperm count problems, check out Step 2 Part 3 of the Program.

Should we start ‘baby-making sex’ on the first day that I see eggwhite cervical fluid?

If you typically experience several days of eggwhite fluid before ovulation, there is no rush to launch yourself straight into procreation mode the moment you see the first signs of fertile fluid.

However, if you typically produce fertile cervical fluid for only one or two days each cycle, it may pay to get busy fairly quickly, to ensure that sperm are deposited into this fluid prior to ovulation.

If this is your first charted cycle and you don’t yet know how many days you produce fertile fluid for, it is advisable to start having intercourse for conception on the first day that fertile fluid is observed.

Luteal phase

How is the luteal phase counted? What if I have spotting before my period starts?

The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle is counted from the day after ovulation (ie the day of your first raised temperature) through to and including the day before your next period starts. Remember that your period starts with the first day of actual bleeding, so any days of spotting beforehand are counted as part of the luteal phase.

For more information on this topic, check out Step 2 of the Program.

I think I might have a short luteal phase – how can I be sure?

A luteal phase length of at least 10 days is usually required for successful implantation of an embryo. Anything less than 10 days is considered a ‘short luteal phase’ and will usually prevent a pregnancy from establishing. Spotting that occurs within 10 days of ovulation can also suggest a luteal phase defect.

Before you start to worry however, there are a couple of factors to be aware of:

Firstly, not all charts are straightforward to read and interpret. As a consequence you may have ovulated earlier than your chart suggests, with a corresponding luteal phase length that is normal. A single chart with an apparent short luteal phase is nothing to be concerned about. However, if you consistently experience this pattern across a number of cycles, you will need to consult your doctor for further investigation.

Secondly, if your temperature doesn’t increase until 3 or more days after your last day of fertile cervical fluid, you may be ovulating earlier than your temperatures suggest. Some women take longer to react to the temperature-raising effect of progesterone after ovulation. In this case your luteal phase will appear shorter than it actually is.

For more information on this topic, check out Step 3 of the Program (or see the Step 3 resource Your Guide to – Luteal Phase Defects)

My luteal phase is longer than normal, my temperatures are still up and I don’t have my period yet. What does this mean?

Within an individual woman, the length of the luteal phase is usually consistent, being the same number of days each cycle (give or take a day or so). If you are at least 2 days beyond your normal luteal phase length, there’s a good chance that you are pregnant so you might like to take a test!

If the result is positive, congratulations! You may like to make an appointment with your doctor to confirm your pregnancy and to arrange for prenatal care.

If the result is negative, it may be because it’s still a little too early for the test to detect your pregnancy hormones. Alternatively, you may simply have ovulated later than your chart suggests and your luteal phase is still within its normal length.

If you are a Premium Member, we can help you assess your chart.

My luteal phase is longer than 18 days, but a pregnancy test showed a negative result. What’s going on?

A luteal phase of 18 days or more is usually a sign of pregnancy. However, a negative pregnancy test could indicate one of the following:

1. Firstly, the home pregnancy test may be showing a false negative. You may like to ask your doctor for a blood test to confirm whether you are pregnant or not.

2. Another possibility is that you may be about to experience an early miscarriage, with pregnancy hormone levels having dropped beyond a detectable level. If you see your temperatures begin to drop rapidly, miscarriage may be imminent and you should consult your doctor.

3. On rare occasions, an extended luteal phase can be caused by an ovarian cyst – either a corpus luteum cyst or a cyst from a condition known as luteinized unruptured follicle syndrome (LUFS). Normally, these cysts are nothing to worry about and usually resolve on their own, but if you are worried or experience pain or other symptoms, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible.

4. Finally, you may simply have ovulated later than your chart suggests or not at all. If you are a Premium Member, we can help you assess your chart.

I thought that the luteal phase was supposed to be the same length each cycle. Mine keeps changing. Is that a problem?

Within an individual woman, the luteal phase is normally very consistent from cycle to cycle, usually varying by only 1 or 2 days at the most. However, if your luteal phase varies significantly from cycle to cycle (and you are able to clearly identify your ovulation day), this may be a sign of hormone imbalance.

Highly variable luteal phase lengths are thought to be associated with low estrogen and progesterone levels, which can result in an increased risk of miscarriage. If you are having difficulty getting (or staying) pregnant, talk to your doctor about getting assessed and treated for a possible hormone imbalance.

For further information on hormonal imbalance and what you can do about it, check out the Step 3 resource ‘Your guide to – Hormonal Imbalance’

I’ve noticed some spotting during my luteal phase. Should I be worried?

Spotting during the luteal phase may be completely normal or an indication of a problem.

For more information, please check out the resource Your Guide to – normal versus abnormal bleeding from Step 3 of the Program.

Pregnancy

It’s too early to see pregnancy on my chart or to do a home pregnancy test. Are there other signs or symptoms in the meantime that will let me know if I’m pregnant?

Unfortunately, when you are desperately hoping to be pregnant, virtually every niggle or sensation you experience can feel like a possible pregnancy symptom! What can make things even more confusing, is that many early pregnancy symptoms are identical to symptoms experienced with pre-menstrual syndrome!

Some common early pregnancy symptoms are: headaches, backache, feeling of heaviness or cramping in the pelvis, extreme tiredness and tender breasts or nipples. Other symptoms that are perhaps more distinct from those of pre-menstrual syndrome are a heightened sense of smell, food cravings or aversions, nausea and a metallic taste in the mouth.  However many pregnant women don’t notice anything unusual at all.

There are also some occurrences on a fertility chart that can indicate pregnancy.  While these features do tend to occur more often on pregnancy charts, unfortunately they are not a guarantee of pregnancy and can sometimes also occur on non-pregnancy charts.

See the Step 3 Part 1 video presentation for more details.

How long should I wait to do a pregnancy test?

Ideally you should wait until about 14 days after ovulation. This usually allows enough time for the pregnancy hormone hCG to increase to a high enough level for detection by a home pregnancy test.

Testing earlier than this increases the risk of getting a false negative – that is, the pregnancy test shows up negative even though you are actually pregnant. This can add unnecessary worry and anxiety (and cost, as you will need to test again later to make sure!).

By charting your fertility, you will know when your period is genuinely overdue and when a pregnancy test is justified. If your luteal phase extends at least 2 days beyond its normal length (after seeing ovulation clearly on your chart), your temperatures remain high and at least 14 days have passed since ovulation, you have good reason to take a test!

What will my chart look like if I’m pregnant?

The first sign on your chart that usually indicates pregnancy is a luteal phase that extends beyond its normal length, with temperatures remaining high. Most women have a consistent luteal phase length each cycle (give or take a day or so), so if your luteal phase extends at least 2 days beyond its normal length, you may like to take a test!

A luteal phase length of 18 days or more usually confirms pregnancy (see ‘18 day luteal phase but negative pregnancy test‘ FAQ, for exceptions to this).

Unfortunately, until your luteal phase extends to 18 days, there are no guaranteed signs of pregnancy; a cycle during which you have conceived, will often look no different on your chart to one where you have not conceived.

There are some other signs however, which are common in pregnancy charts. Some women will notice ‘implantation spotting’ 7-10 days after ovulation, while others will observe a clear dip in their temperature for a day or so around this time. It is not uncommon for temperatures to rise even further to a third level, about a week after ovulation, creating what is known as a ‘triphasic’ chart.

It’s important to remember however, that these signs are not a guarantee of pregnancy. You will need to wait for 18 high temperatures or a positive pregnancy test to confirm whether you have conceived or not.

See the Step 3 Part 1 video presentation for more information.