Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Use Your Period To Help You Pole Dance

February 2nd, 2015 by Saniya Lee Ghanoui

Guest Post by Dana Michelle Gillespie

Editor’s Note: This blog cross-posted from Pole World News.

Pole dancing has quickly become one of the most internationally sought after fitness, sports, and art forms in the world. The pole movement craze is a rapidly growing industry where whole multi-million dollar enterprises and careers have successfully been built. Pole dancing is no stranger to media attention either. The 2010 IPDFA Championship Competition was covered by more than 4000 media outlets in over 120 countries. And it’s celebrity following is similar to that of a female Golden Globes party: Oprah, Marisa Tomei, Cindy Crawford, Heidi Klum, Teri Hatcher, Carmen Electrica, Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey, and Britney Spears — just to name a few.

The love and lure to this beautiful and physically demanding activity can not only bring some bruises and strains to the body but can also be challenging on an emotional and mental level as well. Ask most any pole dancer and you’ll hear an almost addiction type response to their love and enthusiasm of pole dancing. As a female pole dancer — knowing your body is not only an asset but a necessity. And knowing what phase of your female hormonal cycle you’re on can greatly increase your capacity to move and perform at your best, at all times. In the past — the female hormonal cycle was commonly associated with “I’m pms-ing” and maybe “I’m on my time of the month.” Quite often, females felt these two phases on some level with regret and frustration as to the supposed limits they imparted. As women continued to soar in not just the pole community, but the world at large — having every available asset to help us soar with grace and ease — was and is essential. The demand on the female body to perform and feel the same way every day is not only quite limiting, harmful, and invalidating — it’s actually a male thought-form and not conducive to our female well-being; especially when you want to live in balance with your own body and allow it to function at it’s highest potential. Expecting it to feel the same way every day is similar to demanding the earth to have only one season, like winter — every day — all year round. If we didn’t have all the seasons to till and prepare the soil perfectly, healthy food would be very challenging, if not unlikely to grow at all, and survival next to impossible. Females have exclusive access to this amazing ever-changing energy cycle that allows us to effortlessly create and give birth naturally. Birth to babies, businesses, dance performances, better relationships — there is no limit to what a female can give birth to.

It just helps knowing and using your own bodies cycles to create it with more effortless ease. As females both individually and collectively are tapping back into their own body cycle’s inherit smartness, now more than ever, women everywhere are beginning to see their female cycle as giving them access to the different, almost ‘super powers,’ throughout the month. Knowing your phases and what phase you’re on cannot only give you a richer, more loving and fulfilling relationship with yourself, it can also give you your best advantage in life. There are 4 phases of the female hormonal cycle. In medical terms they are recognized as: Menstrual Phase, Follicular Phase, Ovulatory Phase, and Luteal Phase. Commonly they are referred to as: Menstruation/Sage Phase, Pre-Ovulation/Maiden Phase, Ovulation/Mother Phase, and Pre-Menstrual/Enchantress Phase. Once you recognize the strengths and abilities of each phase for yourself — it can propel your life forward. There’s no limit to what you can create and enjoy in your life.

Pre-ovulation/Maiden Phase is a time of physical body lightness and dynamic activity. This phase begins when bleeding ends. The mind is ready for creativity and going out into the world and the body is ready for physical stamina. The chemicals and flow of energy in the body have set up this time to be the best time to organize, plan, create, and be sociable, yet get things done. It’s a great time to plan your dance routines, travels, business endeavors, and test new challenging pole tricks and routines. You’re light and outgoing during this phase, like a maiden, and you like to get s*#t done! A Wonder Women cape would be easily acceptable during this phase.

How to Make Sure Your Period is Never “Late”

November 20th, 2012 by Kati Bicknell

Have you ever been concerned because your period was late? I know I have. But I’m not anymore! And you don’t have to be either! And since I’m sure you’d rather not spend several days every month nervously pacing and counting dates backwards on your hands while glaring at the general vicinity where you guess your uterus is, I’ll tell you how.

It’s simple:


Your period is not a Rolex watch; it was not specifically crafted in Switzerland to accurately tell time. A woman’s reproductive system is designed to … wait for it … reproduce! It takes into account all kinds of things when determining whether or not “now” is a good time to try and have a baby, and not ONE of those things is what day it is.

“Oh rats! I’m late for … uh … me ….”  This is something your period will never say. Think about it for a second. Your period is late? For what? For itself? Do you see how insane that is?

Whether or not, and when, a woman gets her period each cycle depends on a slew of hormonal events, which can be influenced by many things, such as diet, environmental and emotional stress, and on and on.

So let’s take things from the top and see why you think your period is “late,” shall we?

To begin, there is a theory that all women used to cycle with the moon. They would ovulate at the full moon, and they got their period with the new moon. But there is some evidence that suggests that the amount of ambient light in your bedroom while you’re sleeping at night can influence your cycle, in the same way that the moon supposedly did.

So if we are basing the notion of a “standard 28 day cycle” off when we used to cycle with the moon, we’re all pretty much screwed! Think of your bedroom — your alarm clock, a charging cell phone, a streetlamp, a light from under the door because your roommate is on another ‘Friday Night Lights’ bender: most of us do not sleep in a room where the only light is moonlight.

To further confuse matters, women who are on the pill “get their period” at around the same time every month, but anyone who knows anything about the pill knows that is not an actual period. It’s a bleed caused by the body’s withdrawal from progesterone on the week of placebo pills.

So we’ve got these two things that mislead women into thinking that their cycle should be 28 days.  One of my colleagues who has been teaching the Fertility Awareness Methodfor years says that she’s never had a client whose cycle was the same exact length every single time.

Sample chart for Example 1
© Kindara, used with permission

Period not arrive when you thought it would? Let’s take a look at your chart, it could be several things:

If you actually learn about what is going on in your body each cycle, and chart your fertility using the symptothermal method, you will be able to see and understand what is actually happening with all your heretofore “mystery bits.”

1. You haven’t ovulated yet, which means that a period is a ways off.  You might experience breakthrough or withdrawal bleeding later, but this would not technically be a true menstruation.


Sample chart for Example 2
© Kindara, used with permission

2. You ovulated and are currently in your luteal phase, which appears up until now, to be of a normal length.  Depending on how long your luteal phases typically are, you could have a better idea of when to expect your period, and if that day passes with no period, let’s see what’s behind door number 3.





3. You ovulated and are currently in your luteal phase, which appears to be longer than normal, which could indicate pregnancy.  (Or in very rare cases, a luteal cyst.)

Sample Chart for Example 3
© Kindara, used with permission

You see, there is always a reason that your period has not come yet, if you’re waiting on it. Certainly, you could say I’m just arguing semantics, but the truth of the matter is that your period is never “late,” it is doing exactly what your body is telling it too. The trick is to understand your body, rather than blame it and stare wistfully up at the moon, hoping it will work its sweet, sweet magic on your uterus.


Chart your cycle, and you’ll always know what the deal is.

Doooooooo it.

Editor’s note: Click on images to view at full size.

Bring on the Fat!

July 31st, 2012 by Kati Bicknell

I’ve been doing research on my own menstrual cycle for almost four years, charting my cycle using the Fertility Awareness Method.


Photo by Pete&Brook // CC 2.0

My cycles have always been wacky. I got my period when I was 11  but bled only a couple times a year, until, at my doctor’s suggestion, I went on the pill at 18, to “regulate” my cycle.  At 26 I learned that the birth control pills didn’t actually regulate my cycle, they just covered up the real issue.  I was determined to let my body find its own natural cycle, so I went off the pill. I wanted the option to have my own children someday, and with my dubious state of fertility, I needed to give myself a head start on having a healthy cycle.

I didn’t find much information about cycle health for a while, but when I was finally introduced to Toni Weshler’s book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, I felt that  I had found the key!  I was fascinated to learn that with just a few simple actions each day I could get a clear picture of my cycle health. I started charting right away and did my best  give my body a shot at having a “normal” healthy cycle, exercising, eating healthy, trying different herbs and foods. But nothing seemed to make a lasting difference.  I would still only get around four periods a year.

This year in February I went to China, so Kindara could take part in the Haxlr8r start-up accelerator program. I was shocked when within two weeks of arriving in China, I ovulated, after not having my period for six months. I don’t generally ovulate in the winter, so I thought maybe this was just the end of that drought, being as it was March. But then I ovulated again in April, and in May, and in June.

The only thing I could point to that I was doing differently from what I had ever done before was eating lots of weird meat. In China it seems that no part of the animal is wasted. I had countless meals consisting of mostly bones and/or animal fat. In fact the regular “meat” that I was used to in the States didn’t seem to exist.  Everything was either bones, organs, or fat. This was pretty unnerving to me at first, but I slowly got used to it. So I kept it up. When we came back to the states in mid-June I made an effort to eat meat at least several times a week, the fattier and weirder the meat, the better!  And that’s hard to find here. But my efforts seem to be working, I ovulated in July as well!  This makes five months of regular cycles, for the first time in my life.

This is incredible, and I never would have had such a front row seat on the action if I wasn’t charting my cycle. I seem to have cracked the code on what my body was missing. And this means that I should have an easier time getting pregnant, if and when I decide I’m ready. My procreative power is now in my own hands, and I love it!

Newsflash: Women threaten men

February 22nd, 2011 by Chris Hitchcock

The NYT article title reads The threatening scent of fertile women. I’ve felt it for years, and I still haven’t quite figured out why I react this way to this kind of article. Certainly it echos the age-old misogynistic discomfort of learned men for their own sexual urges, projected onto women. I’m trained in evolutionary biology, I believe that humans, like other animals, are subject to natural selection, and I believe that there are things that affect our behaviour that are not processed by our consciousness. But, for some reason, I feel a visceral reaction when I read discussions about the sex-related behaviours of women and men around ovulation.

Some of it is that I’m still annoyed that Nancy Burley’s American Naturalist article has been pretty much ignored. Yes, it’s well cited, but the fundamental conclusions seem to have been lost. In 1979, Burley proposed that so-called “concealed ovulation” is a mystery not just because it is concealed from men, but because it is also concealed from the ovulating woman. And she argued that the leading male-centred hypotheses did not account for this. Burley proposed that ovulation is unmarked because humans are smart and can count, and if they had a choice, many women would choose not to go through childbirth, or do so less often. She argued that natural selection acted to make it harder for women to know when to abstain from sex to avoid pregnancy. In other words, maybe concealed ovulation is not all about men, maybe it’s all about smart women.

How the Birth Control Pill Works: An Illustrated Guide

November 17th, 2010 by Elizabeth Kissling


[Source: Jackie, Let's Be Honest]

My Cycle Made Me Do It

October 19th, 2010 by Elizabeth Kissling

g2241hormonesThis morning, ladymag The Stir posted an article titled, “5 Weird Things Our Menstrual Cycles Make Us Do”. Over the weekend, science site Live Science featured an article about the recent surge in ovulation-related research (with the unfortunate title, “Booty Call: How to Spot a Fertile Woman”). As a quick perusal of re:Cycling archives will reveal, these are only the most recent mass media reports of research on how ovulation and female hormones purportedly determine women’s behavior. Recent research has linked hormones and/or ovulation to women’s preferences for masculine faces, why there are so few women sushi chefs, fluctuating cholesterol levels, chocolate cravings, and competitive bidding in online auctions.

I find myself increasingly weary of such stories, especially when they’re uncritically accepted and advanced.  I’m not so naïve as to argue that there aren’t any biological differences between women and men,* but in isolation, hormones explain very little about human behavior. Ovulation is part of a complex endocrine system, which is part of an even more complex body, which exists in a social world with complicated, byzantine, ever-evolving norms, rules, and consequences for our choices. Why are overly simple explanations so popular? Is the current embrace of biological determinism a marker of a new backlash?

*I will argue, however, that most of those differences aren’t as important as they’ve been made out to be.

Are You Too Physically Fit for Motherhood?

September 2nd, 2010 by Elizabeth Kissling

Image of slender white woman doing bicep curls with small barbell.The headline of a story at ABC news about infertility among female athletes is “Female Athletes Are Too Fit To Get Pregnant“. Many women athletes in their 20s, at peak performance levels and peak physical fitness by most measures, may find themselves unable to conceive. This is attributed to low percentages of body fat, which essentially shut down the hypothalamus, which then fails to trigger the H-P-O (hypothalamus, pituitary, ovary) hormone sequence necessary for regular menstrual cycles. About 12% of infertile women seeking treatment are athletes.

According to the article, even women who are not professional athletes (or training at that level) can experience infertility due to physical fitness:

It noted that recreational jogging — only 12 to 18 miles a week — can result in poor follicular development, decreased estrogen and progesterone secretion and absent ovulation.

Setting aside the seriousness of infertility, I’m intrigued by the tone of the article, and especially the language of the headline. In North America today, there is a strong emphasis socially and in mass media on the importance of exercise and being physically fit, and corresponding demonization of fatness as a personal moral failing. But amenorrhea and infertility as a result of thinness is reported without judgment and body-shaming. There are no quotations from experts about women exercising too much or advice to stop working out; instead, professional athletes are advised to freeze their eggs in their early 20s. When fat* women have trouble conceiving or have difficult pregnancies, it is frequently attributed to their weight, which is presumed to be a behavioral a matter of choice.

*I am following the practice of other advocates of fat acceptance and Health At Every Size (HAES) in using the term fat as a descriptive adjective, not a pejorative.

Hold the Eggs When Ovulating

August 11th, 2010 by Elizabeth Kissling

Fascinating new research from the National Institutes of Health finds that women’s cholesterol levels correspond with cyclic changes in estrogen levels. Total cholesterol levels can vary by as much as 19% over the course of the cycle.

The researchers found that as the level of estrogen rises, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol also rises, peaking at the time of ovulation.

In a typical cycle, estrogen levels steadily increase as the egg cell matures, peaking just before ovulation. Previous studies have shown that taking formulations which contain estrogen — oral contraceptives or menopausal hormone therapy — can affect cholesterol levels. However, the results of studies examining the effects of naturally occurring hormone levels on cholesterol have not been conclusive. According to the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, high blood cholesterol levels raise the risk for heart disease.

. . . .

In contrast, total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels — as well as another form of blood fat known as triglycerides — declined as estrogen levels rose. The decline was not immediate, beginning a couple of days after the estrogen peak at ovulation.

These findings provide another reason for girls and women to learn to track their cycles, so their blood tests can be interpreted more precisely.

It also gives more weight to the frequent assertion of members of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research that menstruation matters — and is worthy of our study — in part because it is not an event isolated in the uterus and vagina, but a complex part of the endocrine system that has effects on health and well-being throughout a woman’s body.

More on life-giving female fluids

April 23rd, 2010 by Chris Hitchcock

When I was pregnant and then learning to breast-feed my daughter, my doula told me that breast milk had great anti-biotic properties, and that it was good to use on eye-infections and cuts. Turns out that there is science behind that. Not only that, but now scientists have shown that breast milk contains substances that may kill cancerous cells. They’re calling the extracted substance HAMLET – not sure why a substance extracted from lactating women would be named after a grieving, tortured young man struggling with suicidal and homicidal thoughts, but I’ll leave more thoughts on that to those who are better at post-modern analysis.

It reminds me of the idea of harvesting stem-cells from menstrual blood. And also some questions about that. Like, is this one of the cases where it matters what produced the menstrual blood? Not all episodes of menstrual bleeding are the same. So how does stem cell quality differ among these different sources of uterine blood?

  • a normal ovulatory cycle
  • normal-length but anovulatory cycle
  • very long or irregular cycles, which tend to be anovulatory
  • withdrawal bleed when you are on the pill
  • or even a post-menopausal vaginal bleed from taking sequential hormone therapy

I don’t even know if anyone is asking these questions, because there is relatively little interest or appreciation in the varieties of sources of menstrual blood and how it might change its quality.

So the pill won’t kill me; what’s the point?

March 18th, 2010 by Laura Wershler

Women on the pill live longer. So touts a March 12, 2010 Reuters news story out of London, England reporting on a study published March 11 in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). A misleading headline if ever there was one.

The study followed 46, 000 women for up to 40 years, to see if the mortality risk among women sho have used oral contraceptives differs from that of never users. What the study actually found, according to the public release issued by BMJ on March 12 is this: “Women in the UK who have ever used oral contraceptives are less likely to die from any cause, including all cancers and heart disease, compared with never users.”

The study also found a slightly higher risk (of death, I presume) in women under 45 years old who are current or recent users of the pill.  As such, the authors assert:

Many women, especially those who used the first generation of oral contaceptives many years ago, are likely to be reassured by our results.  However, our findings might not reflect the experience of women using oral contraceptives today, if currently available preparations have a different risk than earlier products.

I’m 56 years old. I didn’t take the pill in the UK. But I did take it in Canada in the early to late seventies, back when it was much stronger than it is today. And back when it was NOT common for women to start the pill at 15 and take it for a decade or longer.  Am I reassured by these findings? Sort of. Although years of hard-fought-for healthy, ovulatory menstruation, subsequent to my year long post-pill amenorrhea, are more likely responsible for my good health than having  been an “ever user” of oral contraceptives. And more likely to protect me from heart disease and cancer than whatever benefits I may have derived from my on again, off again pill-taking history.

As for women under 45, it’s not just the “currently available preparations” I’d be concerned about. And there are tons of them: multiple variations of standard pills, continuous use pills like Seasonale and Lybrel, and cycle-stopping contraceptives like Depo-Provera and the Mirena IUD. The other concern is that the contraceptive use of young women today is much different than it was in my youth. They start using oral and other hormonal contraception at younger ages, before their reproductive systems have fully matured and their fertility (regular, ovulatory menstrual cycles) is well established. And they tend to take it for longer. The verdict on the long-term effects of this kind of contraceptive use is yet to be determined.

I’m not going to debate the merits or faults of this study or the unanswered questions it raises. The question I really want to ask is “What’s the point?”

The cynic in me believes that this study, and misleading headlines like Women on the pill live longer, will be used to compel women of all ages to ‘shut up already’ about their growing concerns with hormonal contraception. It will be dragged out as “scientific evidence” that taking the pill saves lives, as is implied in this article published by the Daily Mail:

The contraceptive Pill can extend your life and may even save 1,500 lives a year, a study has suggested.

Women who have taken the Pill at any stage in their life are less likely to die from any cause – including heart disease and all types of cancer – than those who have never taken the oral contraceptive.

But wait, here’s the next paragraph:

However, the positive effects may only be enjoyed by women who have taken older-style pills rather than those on newer drugs.

Let’s get real. For women my age this study may offer some small comfort. But for young women, it is perfectly useless. Many of them are re-thinking hormonal birth control and seeking out alternatives. They are paying attention to news stories and research about the disconcerting negative health outcomes experienced by women taking hormonal contraception. Research from many quarters suggests that taking the pill (et al) can cause inflammatory bowel disease and hardening of the arteries, raise the risk of heart attack, diminsh bone density, and impair women’s sex drive.  Many women are fed-up with mood disorders, weight gain, and the general malaise that accompanies their pill use. Others are ”ditching the pill for good” and writing about their experiences on blogs and magazine websites.

Women said ”No” to the pill in my day, and young women are saying ”No” to the pill (and other forms of hormonal contraception) today, not because we thought, or they think, it would, or will kill us. (Though death and disability from pill-related stroke and heart attack, both then and now, are documented.)

Today, women are saying “No” to the pill because they want to say “Yes” to better health and well-being. Research demonstrating the health benefits of consistent ovulatory menstrual cycles - such as healthy hearts and breasts, strong bones and muscles, and vibrant libidos -  supports the validity of this choice.

The Quiet Uterus?

November 7th, 2009 by Chris Bobel

Guest Post by Moira Howes, Trent University

Uterus Vase by The Plug and Stephanie Rollin

Uterus Vase by The Plug and Stephanie Rollin

Over thirty years ago, Roger V. Short argued that regular menstrual cycling is probably a health hazard and thus, we should try to “keep the ovaries and the female reproductive tract in a state of quiescence when reproduction is not desired” [1]

More recently, Timothy Rowe, Head of Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, University of British Columbia, claims that “the pill keeps a woman’s reproductive organs quiet and healthy[2]
As a philosopher of science, I find the concept of a “quiescent” bodily organ fascinating, troubling and great fodder: there is nothing so tempting to a philosopher of science as a vague, unscientific and value-laden concept.

Short and Rowe use the concept of “quiescence” to describe a presumably defined state of the uterus, but the concept is vague. It’s also unscientific—it calls to mind the promises made for “stimulated” immune systems and “cleansed” livers at my local health food store. And, the quiescent uterus raises old value-laden associations between women and passivity. If the dormant, quiet, and weak uterus is healthy, is the active, energetic, and strong uterus unhealthy?

The quiescent concept also connects temptingly with another problematic concept: “incessant ovulation.”

Short refers to regular ovulation as “incessant ovulation” and an “incessant ovulation theory” has emerged in the last decade or so. Strictly speaking, “incessant” just means “uninterrupted.” But it has negative connotations that the terms “uninterrupted” and “regular” do not. We would not say “incessant ovulation is important for bone health,” but we would say that “regular ovulation is important for bone health.” Ovulation has been described as hard work and as causing wear and tear on the ovaries. Interestingly, we do not talk of spermatogenesis in terms of incessant activity, hard work, or wear and tear: the more prolific the testicular activity, the more energetic, virile and healthy the testicle.

A more specific reason I find the term “quiescent uterus” fascinating concerns my interest in the field of reproductive immunology. Surprisingly little work has been done on the immune defences of the human female reproductive and genital tracts (though immunologists like Alison Quayle, Charles Wira and John Fahey are starting to rectify matters).

Because relatively little is known about mucosal immune defences in the human female reproductive and genital tract—and about how the reproductive immune system also contributes to blood vessel development in the uterus, ovulation, construction of the maternal-fetal interface, and the growth and development of the fetus (to name a few of the more recently discovered immune activities)—it is easy to assume that the uterus just “does nothing” when it is not involved in reproduction. Taking into account these immunological activities, however, it is clear that the reproductive tract does things besides ovulate and gestate fetuses.

What happens immunologically when women take hormonal forms of contraception?

Are the immunological activities of the uterus “quieted” and thus improved? Or are they disrupted and unhealthy?

From an immunological perspective—not to mention social and other medical perspectives—I am concerned that the notion of quiescence may stall research and pose risks to women’s health.
I’d love to hear other ideas about the quiescent uterus.

[1] Short 1976, The Evolution of Human Reproduction. Proc R Soc Lond B 195, 21

[2] “Fertility: From Foe to Friend,” Kate Rae, Glow Magazine, November 2009, 68

How (and When) to Make a Baby

October 29th, 2009 by Chris Hitchcock

According to this article, a surprising number of women seeking infertility care don’t know when to effectively focus their efforts. Australian researcher (and SMCR member) Kerry Hampton asked women seeking infertility advice about the normal ovulatory menstrual cycle, and found that most women lack basic knowledge about the menstrual cycle, ovulation, and when the optimal time is to conceive.

A study of 204 women who attended assisted-reproduction clinics in Melbourne during 2007 and 2008 showed only 13 per cent had a good knowledge of the ”fertility window” in their monthly menstrual cycle when pregnancy can occur.

Fertility nurse specialist and Monash University researcher, Kerry Hampton, told the Fertility Society of Australia’s annual scientific meeting yesterday that 11 per cent of the women had no knowledge of the fertility window and 52 per cent had poor levels of awareness.

Ms Hampton said most of the women had been trying to conceive for one year or more when they were surveyed, and that if they had of known more about natural conception, they would have had a better chance of success.

”A lot of these women were not able to optimise their chance of natural conception because they didn’t understand the window,” she said.

Quote from Australian publication The Age (link above)

The article goes on to quote a number of infertility specialists who remark that timing conception to a woman’s menstrual cycle is too stressful, arguing that the stress of precise timing can itself cause fertility problems.

But does withholding information about a woman’s own fertility signs really reduce stress? And how stressful is it to learn to read the signs?

Using a daily charting tool, such as CeMCOR’s free Menstrual Cycle Diary, can help women to become aware of the cyclic changes that precede ovulation. You can spend a lot of money on LH kits, waiting for a one-day window that tells you that ovulation is impending. Or you can track changes in your own body, and get to know what will predict ovulation.

Keeping the diary itself can be interesting and informative, and also gives you some sense of predictability and understanding. Here are some signs to look for:

    Mid-cycle stretchy mucous (like egg-white), followed by a change to more tacky mucous. The mucous is a response to the estrogen produced by a growing follicle surrounding the egg. Peak mucous precedes the release of an egg, and the mucous itself helps with sperm motility and conception. Following ovulation, progesterone changes the mucous texture to a drier, tackier secretion.
    Menstrual Cycle Diary records – Over time, by comparing your own patterns of experience with the date of ovulation estimated by the basal temperature, you will come to understand your own fertility signs. Some women find that breast tenderness is helpful, most will find stretchy mucous helpful.
    To understand how these patterns are related to ovulation, the least expensive reliable method is to use Basal Body Temperature. Body temperature rises slightly following ovulation, which is a direct effect of the progesterone that is produced following ovulation. Using a basal thermometer (one that reads to 2 digits) each morning before rising, and writing down the temperatures each day gives the information needed to estimated when ovulation occurred. Digital thermometers with a memory for the previous temperature are an inexpensive investment.
    To formally calculate the date of likely ovulation, calculated the average value (add them up & divide by the number), then look for whether there was a shift from below the average to above the average. A “normally ovulatory” menstrual cycle needs to have at least 10 days of higher temperatures at the end of the cycle. This period of higher temperatures is called the luteal phase, it is generated by the progesterone that is made following the release of an egg, and if the interval is too short, there is not enough time for the fertilized egg to get started in the uterus (implanted) before your period starts. That’s pretty common, especially related to stress, and also to ageing (more common in perimenopause).

If you keep the diary for a few months, you will start to see patterns in your own body, and get to predict when you will ovulate. The temperature rise follows progesterone rise, which follows ovulation – ovulation likely occurred within 1-2 days prior to the temperature rise.

That kind of pattern indicates ovulation, and you want to be trying to conceive during the stretchy mucous phase.

Keeping daily track of body changes over the menstrual cycle can become a routine part of your day.. It brings women into better awareness of body changes, which itself can be helpful. And it can give an area of self-knowledge and empowerment, in the often disempowering journey of not conceiving a much wanted child.

Readers should note that statements published in re: Cycling are those of individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Society as a whole.