Two posts ago I shared a little bit about Basal Body Temperature, or BBT. As you’ll remember it’s a super handy biomarker and tool to confirm ovulation and to get an idea of things like thyroid health. I recommend that every woman incorporate BBT into her charting routine, with very few exceptions. Having that extra confirmation of ovulation just adds that much more confidence in your charting accuracy.
But the main biomarker that every woman should absolutely be charting is…you guessed it…cervical mucus, a.k.a cervical fluid.
Cervical mucus (which we could talk about to endless detail!) is a hydrogel produced by crypts in the cervix under the influence of estrogen and progesterone — each hormone causing a different type of cervical mucus. Learning the difference between these types is one of the most essential parts to practicing Symptothermal and cervical mucus-only methods with high efficacy.
Once you learn which types of CM are correlated to which of the two main hormones produced in the ovaries (estrogen or progesterone), then just by observing your cervical mucus you’ll have a good idea of what’s happening with your hormones on any given day, and you’ll have a clear heads up if something is imbalanced. This is one of the many ways in which FAM is a valuable health and body literacy tool.
Learning to correctly collect this first-hand data on your body day-by-day, and to accurately record and interpret it according to a system — and then to make choices about your sexual activity based upon that accurate collection, recording, and interpretation — is also the only way that you will be able gain the high rate of effectiveness that the Symptothermal method of Fertility Awareness is loved for.
How? Because before ovulation, estrogen rises. And the higher it gets, the more clear/stretchy/lubricative cervical mucus generally becomes. Whenever this (or any) type of CM is seen before confirmed ovulation, you know ovulation is approaching and you consider yourself fertile. And after ovulation, progesterone becomes the dominant hormone instead of estrogen, and dries up this type of cervical fluid, and instead stimulates the cervix to produce a thick mucus which blocks the cervix. This mucus is actually a part of a woman’s immune system because it protects the reproductive hormones from infection and bacteria that might cause harm! Amazing, right?!
Every woman has her own unique manifestation of this basic pattern, and that’s one of the most useful things that she learns from working with a Fertility Awareness Educator. Learning to properly observe and chart CM is often the most daunting part of starting to learn FAM for many women, and also where they may experience the most confusion.
This is the main reason why self-teaching is not something I recommend. If at all possible, the woman should take a short period of time to learn this knowledge and skill from an educator, because then the process is simplified and clear-cut, and she can feel 100% confident in what she is seeing and recording on her charts! Because you don’t know what you don’t know, and having an educator to identify any points of confusion for you, and to answer all your questions is the key to accurate and effective Fertility Awareness charting.
And after a short time, it becomes beautifully intuitive!