Growing up, I believed what most people believed that a woman’s cycle was 28 days and ovulation usually occurred around Day 14. I even thought this to be true as a young adult in my 20’s, until after I got married. All that changed when a friend of mine introduced me to the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. This book opened my eyes to the variations of cycle length. A normal cycle can be anywhere from 21 to 35 days long. Cycle length can even vary from month to month. Why don’t we know more about women’s cycles and what Toni Weschler calls “Fertility Awareness Method?”
Most doctors are rarely taught in detail about the “Fertility Awareness Method.” The effectiveness of Fertility Awareness Method focuses on three things: cervical fluid, waking temperatures, and cervical position. There are numerous hormones involved: Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), estrogen, luteinizing hormone, and progesterone. Fertility Awareness Method is obviously useful for birth control and getting pregnant, but also for overall gynecological health. The advantage of women who chat is that they are well aware of what is normal for them which makes it easier to determine changes based on their own cycles.
I was surprised to learn that women are only fertile a few days per cycle. Knowing how to look for the fertile signs takes all of the guesswork out of knowing when you’re fertile. Women who chart their cycles can help their healthcare practitioner determine any irregularities based on their individual symptoms rather than looking at the average woman’s symptoms. For example: some women may experience mid-cycle spotting which is usually harmless and is “ovulatory bleeding.” Bleeding during any other time of a woman’s cycle could indicate a potential problem.
A woman’s cycle is divided up into two parts. The first part of the cycle is from menses to ovulation which can vary from woman to woman as well as from month to month. The second part is from ovulation to the last day before a new period begins and that is called the luteal phase. This phase usually lasts from 12 to 16 days. The day of ovulation determines the length of a woman’s cycle.
Reading this book really opened my eyes. Learning about how my cycle worked allowed me to really appreciate the whole process. There is such power in knowing how our bodies work!
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