Ovulation: What Your Cycle Tracking App CAN’T Tell You, and What to do About it
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard “my app says my fertile window is…”
This might be surprising to some of you, but your app can’t perfectly predict when you ovulate. You could have a 28 day cycle, ovulate on day 20, have an 8 day luteal phase, and your app would likely still tell you that you ovulated on day 14. It would tell you your fertile window was days 11-15. The moral of the story is – you can’t rely on apps alone if you’re trying to get pregnant (or avoid pregnancy).
Unless you are also actively charting your basal body temperature (BBT), cervical fluid (CM) and other signs and symptoms of ovulation within fertility apps, these apps can be wildly inaccurate.
This method of charting BBT and CM is known as FAM or the Fertility Awareness method (aka symptothermal method) and to say I’m a fan would be an understatement!
While you don’t have to ovulate on day 14 to get pregnant and you don’t have to have a perfect cycle…knowing your cycle can go a long way towards preconception prep and timing intercourse. (Also, did you know only 13% of people ovulate on day 14?!)
Charting your cycles is also a great way to see if there are areas in your cycle that need support. For example, we want the luteal phase (the time from ovulation to the start of the next period) to be 12-14 days long. If it’s shorter than 10 days or you experience spotting in the days leading up to the period, we may want to do a deeper investigation into what’s going on with hormones during this phase of the cycle.
Where to begin learning the Fertility Awareness Method?
We also teach the ins and outs of FAM in the Brilliant Fertility Program- our participants have found the weekly calls to be a great opportunity to learn more about their cycles and see what’s happening in their bodies week to week. The 4 month program also gives us enough time to see changes in the cycles after implementing dietary and lifestyle changes and supplements. Its amazing to see how even after just 1-2 months, we see increased fertile cervical fluid, healthier luteal phases, and decreased PMS symptoms documented in our members’ charts.
My favorite app for charting cycles?
Kindara wins for a few reasons…
#1. You can turn off the prediction function so it won’t give you inaccurate fertile windows or period start dates
#2. It’s so easy to share data with your provider! I can see all my patient’s and client’s charts in real time and this makes it super easy to review together in our follow ups
#3. You can chart other symptoms like headaches, bloating, etc to help us see if there are other health patterns that follow the hormone cycle.
#4. It’s free to use. You can upgrade for additional features, but I find the most basic free version to work really well for most people.
You don’t need anything fancy to start learning FAM!
I know it can feel daunting to learn a new skill- and let’s be honest sex ed failed us when it came to truly understanding our cycles. But you don’t need anything fancy or complicated to learn about your body and I promise the insights you will gain and connection to your body are SO WORTH IT.
Come with curiosity and compassion towards your body. Grab a basal body thermometer like this one from Fairhaven & download an app like Kindara or grab one of the paper charts from Taking Charge of Your Fertility.
What if you have an irregular cycle?
An irregular cycle is one shorter than 21 days or longer than 35 days and often there is a lot of variability cycle to cycle. I’ve been there with myself with PCOS/Post birth control irregularity You’ll definitely want to meet with a provider who can help you identify WHY your cycle is irregular and how to know when you’re ovulating.
Using a wearable thermometer like Temp Drop can be great for those with irregular cycles, irregular morning wake up times, or people who are waking up in the middle of the night for whatever reason. For 5 years I used my $15 oral basal body thermometer, and decided to try Tempdrop after I had my second son. Honestly both worked really well for me even though I have irregular cycles- but waking up with kiddos overnight messes with basal body temp readings first thing in the morning and for an accurate read, Temp drop has been a dream.
Ready for a deeper dive?
I’d love to work with you! If you’re trying to get pregnant, hoping to try in the next 1-2 years or are looking for a better understanding of your hormones and cycles, you’re in the right place.
If you’re an Arizona resident, you can request a new patient consultation HERE. In person and virtual consultations are available. If you’re out of state, please use the contact form to reach out and discuss your options.
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