Learning how to chart is too hard. It’s too time-consuming for women to chart every day. Women are too lazy to chart their cycles.
These are a few of the perceptions concerning charting that all boil down to one common myth: charting a woman’s cycle is too complicated for most people to learn. This myth is perpetuated, either directly or through subtle suggestion, by doctors and medical professionals, the media, and our society at large. My own OBGYN looked at me with shock when I politely declined her proffered methods of hormonal birth control in exchange for a Fertility Awareness-Based Method (FABM) and said to me, “Wow, good luck figuring that out!”
Now, don’t get me wrong—learning a FABM, or Natural Family Planning (NFP), does require some training and time to learn, and charting can be difficult to commit to habit initially. However, just because something takes effort to learn at first does not mean that it’s too hard or that it is not incredibly rewarding once understood.
By charting her cycle and tracking her body’s observable, physical signs, a woman gains knowledge of her individual body and fertile periods of the month, and she gains the confidence to be an advocate for her health and know when something is “off.” As a number of women have shared with me, charting is well worth the small hurdles that it takes to learn and begin practicing every day.
It’s easier than remembering to take a Pill every day.
Mary, who told us she was previously prescribed the birth-control Pill for cycle issues, now says charting with natural family planning was much easier than she expected:
“When I had breast tenderness as a teen, my doctor put me on the Pill, which I happily took for clearer skin as well. I didn’t know until I got off the Pill how much it negatively affected my mood and mental clarity. I also remember it was a constant challenge and stress to remember to take the Pill every day around the same time. Later, I learned the Fertility Awareness-Based Method known as the Creighton Model from nurse practitioner who assured me of the medical science behind it. Their training was so comprehensive that, in just a few short months, I quickly got the hang of charting and felt like I knew my cycle like the back of my hand. It brought me zero stress and made me feel more aware of my body.”
It’s surprisingly simple to observe and interpret your body’s natural signs.
Women or couples who decide to learn a FABM need to be provided with the necessary tools for success—that is, proper training by a FABM instructor. People take classes for everything that’s important to learn properly, whether it be driving a car or birthing a child. Thus, it only makes sense to take a class to properly learn a FABM. With this knowledge, many women tell us it’s easier than they expected to chart regularly.
As a FABM user named Lucy shared with us:
“Charting my cycles and educating myself about my fertility has enabled me to really understand aspects of my own reproductive health that I took for granted before. Contrary to popular belief, keeping track of and charting symptoms comes very easily once you become aware of what to look out for and how those symptoms relate to your cycle. Being aware of and really understanding my fertility has truly empowered me as a woman and given me confidence in using a FABM for family planning.”
The health benefits you’ll notice will motivate you to keep charting.
Charting your body’s signs every day must become part of one’s daily routine in order to give an accurate portrait of a woman’s monthly cycle and overall health. When a habit becomes beneficial or even necessary for one’s health, it carries with it an added incentive.
As a FABM user named Claire recently shared:
“I love charting because it not only gives me control over my fertility but also knowledge of how my body works. If something is off during my cycle I can pick up on it right away. Like any habit, it just takes a little bit of time to get used to doing. My fertility monitor even does a lot of the work for me! I just take my temperature when my alarm goes off every morning and it takes care of the charting. I don’t even have to get out of bed, and it has effectively become part of my morning routine.”
You may have to be your own advocate, but it’s worth it.
As another FABM-using woman named Anna shared:
“I can understand how some doctors, not being fully informed, might discourage the idea of women charting for NFP (I’ve had some experience here), but the reality is, it’s not nearly as difficult as it may first appear. It definitely looks like a pile of learning and work, but the methods available are really well documented, and I’ve found that there is so much training available, as well as working hand in hand with instructors, that it’s not nearly as hard as it seems. Once the routine becomes habit and the rules are understood, it can quickly become second nature, and I’m confident that all women can do it without difficulty!”
Given what these women tell us, the fact that many doctors believe women are simply not capable of charting their cycles with a Fertility Awareness-Based Method borders on insulting. Would a doctor tell diabetic patients that it will be too hard for them to monitor their health, take insulin, and change their diet just because it is inconvenient? No, a good doctor would provide the resources necessary for them to make changes in their lifestyle and succeed.
Once a woman has the knowledge of how her own body works and knows what to expect every month, as well as what she needs to do in order to prevent a pregnancy or to become pregnant, that knowledge does not leave her. Not only has charting her cycle become firmly rooted in habit, but observing her body’s signs (depending on which FABM she is using) becomes easy, predictable, and most importantly, empowering.