It has been about 6 months and it has been 6 cycles since I started charting. I thought it would be a good time for a "final" update. I'm not done charting, so I may mention things as they come up, but as far as specifically writing posts about charting as a single person, this is the last one (at least until or unless something else comes up.)
First of all, since this is about charting as a single woman, there are two things that I believe more and more strongly through this process. One is that I believe that all women should know how to chart and should spend at least several months doing it. The other is that single women who are learning to chart need to make sure that they are doing it for the right reasons. Simply doing it "so that you'll be ready when it's time" may not be the best reason. If that had been my reason when I started doing this, then I would have been really disappointed after doing this for 6 months and still having no change in my prospects. Or, if I had met someone in that time, I may have taken it as some sort of sign and put more pressure on that relationship to be the relationship.
I do think that it's an awesome side benefit that if I do meet someone, I will be ready. I just don't think that's the reason that anyone should take it. Does that make sense? The reason that I took it was because I'd heard enough to notice some things that I wanted to keep an eye on, and I wanted to be more conscious of my health. Those are goals that can be met no matter what.
I think all women should learn to chart and do it long enough to have a general idea of what's going on and what is and is not normal for them. It really is great to know more about what's going on in my body. It's great to walk by all of the contraceptive products in a drug store and know that I wouldn't need any of those on a particular day if I was married and trying to avoid pregnancy. In my case, it's even better to know that I have some signs of low progesterone (short post peak times and longer periods with at least 4 days of TEBB) because if my status does change, I'll want to get some blood draws done to get that confirmed and take care of any appropriate treatment. Also great? Because of charting, I can make sure those get done at times that they would be accurate.
I don't think that younger teenagers need as much depth with the training, but I think that they should learn about charting, too. I think it helps us all to have a greater respect for our bodies and learn how to work with them. It will also make it less intimidating if they decide they want to use NFP when the time is right for them. Not to mention that I know far too many women who had problems with their periods long before marriage and babies that would benefit from knowing more about what's going on and how to follow up for treatment if needed.
I can also tell you that my mucus cycle seems a little off to me. The two months that I took echinacea (for unrelated reasons) the cycle looked perfect. My instructor thought that was interesting and wondered if echinacea decreases inflammation. I don't know what it does for sure, but if I were trying to conceive, I would be taking it during that part of my cycle!
I am starting to get a little tired of charting, however. I notice that I am a little lax in my observations sometimes. I know that I'm getting tired of paying the fee to go up to see the instructor, only to have her repeat the same questions.
Because of all of this, I have a new plan. The plan is to take a month off from charting. I do have some things I still want to figure out, but I don't think it's worth it to go through all the work most of the time, but then be lax just often enough that you're losing valuable information. The echinacea thing is also interesting to me. If it does somehow decrease inflammation, that makes me wonder about making some dietary changes. I've already gotten rid of most of the dairy in my life (though I still have some), but I think that I should also try cutting back the grains and eating a LOT more fruits and vegetables. I have been eating a lot more meat in the last couple of months and that seems to be going really well. Do you see where this is going? I think I'll try some paleo for a couple of months. I'm a little uncertain about some of the things about the paleo diet, and therefore am not sure that I want to stay on it for too long. However, I really have been questioning what the grains are doing to me, and I know I feel better if I stay away from dairy and when I do eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.
Seeing as how I barely plan meals normally, I'm going to try to go through the eMeals. They're not too expensive, and the fact that the meals are already planned and the grocery list is already written means that my chances go up from slim and none to at least 50%. I figure that it will take me a few weeks to get rid of some of the non-paleo friendly stuff I already have and don't intend to throw out and hopefully find a workable routine for getting my own meals made instead of my current plan, which involves frozen dinners and a microwave. Which means that I should hopefully be about switched over in time to chart again right after this upcoming cycle and I should be motivated because I'll want to see if there are any noticeable changes. I do plan to follow up again with the FCP, but it might be another 6 months or so.
There you have it, more than you ever wanted to know about me and my plans for charting. It's a little awkward, but the benefits of it are worth it, so I'm happy to share if it lets someone else be more aware of the ways that charting may help them.