Tracking your Periods, the Old-fashioned Way

Why Tracking your Menstruation Matters?

If you are a woman who doesn’t like to take birth control, like me – read on! For me, I would rather document the comings and goings of “Aunt Flow” in order to avoid pregnancy, in place of putting unnatural drugs or medical devices into my body.

I want to let other women know that you can take matters into your own hands. You can determine when (or not) to partake in intercourse with your significant other to avoid (or not) becoming pregnant. Besides being a natural form of birth control, there are numerous benefits to keeping track of your menstrual cycle. The benefits include:

  • Increasing your overall wellbeing and health.
  • Helping you to recognize and regulate your moods.
  • Knowing when you’re most likely to be “Fertile Myrtle.”
  • Being able to anticipate your coming period without surprises.

What Exactly is Ovulation?

Ovulation occurs when an egg is released by one or both of your ovaries. This typically happens around 14 days after the start of your period. Some women may sense pain or achiness near the ovaries during ovulation; this is termed “mittelschmerz,” which translates to “middle pain” in German. Don’t worry if you experience discomfort sometimes during ovulation, it’s totally normal!

It may be a little confusing to figure out when ovulation is happening. Still, I think I’ve gotten it figured out for myself. I’ll explain more on how you too can keep track of and find out when you’re ovulating later. Below are some critical facts about ovulation that you may find interesting:

  • All women are born with millions of premature eggs just waiting to be released.
  • A menstrual period may occur even if ovulation has not transpired.
  • Some women can encounter a little spotting when ovulation occurs.
  • Ovulation can be impaired by stress, sickness, or disruption of regular habits.
  • Ordinarily, only one tiny little egg is discharged during ovulation.
  • Ovulation can happen even if a menstrual period has been skipped.
  • An egg can typically live 12 to 24 hours after leaving the ovary.
  • Implantation of a fertilized egg typically takes place 6 to 12 days post ovulation.
  • If an egg is not fertilized, it decomposes and is absorbed within the uterine wall.

The Fertility Window is Short

So, here’s some good news for you – conception can only happen within the 24-hour timeframe during ovulation (when the egg drops). That being said, it’s possible to drop eggs from both ovaries within a cycle – up to 24 hours apart. Thus, your ovulation window can be up to 72 hours long.

Disclaimer: even though conception generally only happens in the first 12 to 24 hours after ovulation, there is some potential to become pregnant outside of your fertile window. Although chances of becoming pregnant outside of ovulation are slim, tracking your period and calculating the ovulation cycle is not a foolproof method. This is because sperm is capable of surviving inside the uterus for a few days.

You may choose to use condoms just in case – I have found that it hasn’t been necessary for me.


Eve tracked her previous three periods by calculating the time from the first day of one cycle to the day preceding the next period.

Her first menstrual cycle was 32 days long, period two was 28 days, and period three was 29 days.

32 + 28 + 29 = 89

89 divided by 3 = 29.6667

So, the overall length of Eve’s cycles are 29 to 30 days. Her egg will drop around 14 to 15 days (the middle) from the start of her last period. Keep reading below to find out exactly where the ovulation window is, and how to use this to become pregnant or avoid it altogether.

Calculating your Flow

In order to track your flow, you need to measure how lengthy your regular cycles are by adding up the space between one period starting and the next one beginning. I usually just place a dot on my calendar at home – I’m the only one that knows what that dot is for. This is what some would call an ovulation calendar.

If you are uncertain, use the average length of 28 days. If the number of days in your cycle varies in length (most do), you can figure out your overall cycle length by finding your average. The range of any woman’s menstrual cycle can fluctuate from month to month.

Periods aren’t regular all of the time. It can be helpful to figure out an average of your period length, based upon the span of three menstrual cycles, to predict when you’re most likely to ovulate. If you add the number of days in three periods and divide the sum by three, it’ll give you your median cycle length.

NFP as Effective Birth Control

Natural Family Planning (NFP), also called fertility awareness, depends solely upon a woman’s ability to track ovulation. This method anticipates unfertile and fertile days to determine when to evade sex (or not) and is used by only a narrow portion of women. Most women who do elect to use NFP use it because they have a spiritual or religious objection to birth prevention that utilizes devices, drugs, or surgery. Other women prefer to adopt a hormone-free style of birth control, like me.

To use the NFP method most effectively – document the term of 6 to 12 of your periods. Utilizing a journal or a calendar, note down the total of days in every menstrual cycle – computing from the first day of your actual period to the first day of your next one. Determine the median length of your periods using the example I gave above.

Ascertain the length of your briefest menstrual cycle. Deduct 18 from the total count of days in your shortest cycle; this sum illustrates the first fertile day of your ovulation window. Example – if your shortest cycle is 27 days, subtract 18 from 27, which amounts to day 9. The first day of your menstrual cycle is the day you actually start your period, and the 9th day of your cycle is your first fertile day.

Then work out the term of your most prolonged cycle and deduct 11 from the sum; this total gives you the last fertile day of your menstruation cycle. Example – if your longest cycle is 29 days, subtract 11 from 29, which equals day 18. The first day of your menstrual cycle is the first day you start bleeding, and the 22nd day of your cycle is the last day of your fertile window.

Arrange sexual encounters carefully throughout your most fertile days. If you’re wanting to dodge pregnancy, unprotected sex should be out of bounds during this time! Alternatively, if you’re wanting to become pregnant, have intercourse frequently throughout your most fertile days. Calculate your period lengths every single month. Continue documenting the range of each of your cycles to make sure you’re accurately determining your most fertile days.

This secure method can help you not only to plan your family, but it can also serve to enhance your life. I have never been caught unawares by “Aunt Flow,” and I have always been in tune with my body while using NFP. Don’t you feel that it is necessary to be in tune with yours too?

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