The Dao Does X Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week 2023 Journal Series ~
Don’t make these ovulation tracking mistakes: Crack the Code of Fertility Awareness with Founder of Bright Girl Health, Fertility Awareness Instructor, Author Demi Spaccavento ~
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture have played a role in Gynaecology for thousands of years. At The Dao Health, menstrual cycle support begins with educating each patient about the phases of their menstrual cycle including not only the period but also the main event, ovulation, empowering women to expand their knowledge of their own menstrual cycle.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, the menstrual cycle is considered the ‘fifth’ vital sign of health and well-being and is used as a monthly diagnostic tool used which gives a woman a cyclical insight into their hormonal health and fertility.
Acupuncturists, herbalists, and fertility awareness practitioners work effectively in an integrative model of care to provide their patients with the tools to understand the mechanics of their bodies and the pivotal biological processes and signs to monitor to optimise hormonal health and fertility. Demi Spaccavento provides detailed instructions on the use of the Fertility Awareness Method as a non-hormonal method of contraception and as a way to optimise fertility in an ‘easy to understand’ format for both teens and adults alike.
Founder of Bright Girl Health, Fertility Awareness Instructor, Author, Demi Spaccavento ~
Demi has no filter when it comes to talking about periods… because that’s the way it should be! Demi Spaccavento is a menstrual health educator, author, high school teacher, certified fertility awareness trainer, and the founder of Bright Girl Health.
Demi has presented to over 15,000 students, empowering them to embrace their bodies and never dread their period again.
Demi believes the menstrual cycle is an intelligent function of the body! Your cycle doesn’t have to be your enemy – it can be your greatest tool for better health and wellbeing!
1. What does Women’s Health mean to you?
Women deserve to understand how their own bodies work… there OUR bodies!
This means not being kept in the dark about our own biology.
Women and menstruators deserve to have all the information needed to make informed health choices.
2. Why track ovulation & what is the fertility awareness method?
We should have learnt about ovulation tracking in school.
Why weren’t we taught that tracking ovulation can allow us to:
- Accurately predict irregular periods
- Have hormone-free contraception
- Conceive quicker
- Be in tune with the 4 phases of our cycle
Ovulation tracking is part of fertility awareness.
Fertility awareness methods use signs of fertility – like basal body temperature and cervical mucus – to determine what days of our cycle we’re fertile or not fertile.
Many people use fertility awareness for contraception, conception, or knowing their body better.
Your health teacher may not have taught you to hack your cycle to improve your life – so allow me…
3. What are some common ovulation-tracking mistakes people make? How do I avoid these?
So you want to start ovulation tracking like many people who are ditching the pill, trying to get pregnant or wanting to improve their period?
Awesome! You’re gonna love it.
Many people make these common mistakes when starting out.
Let’s learn from them…
Mistake number 1 – Not learning a method and ‘just winging it’
We don’t want you ending up with an unwanted pregnancy, or in fetal position crying over what your temperature chart means!
“How high does the temperature need to be?”
“What if it goes back down again?!”
“How do I draw a coverline… and what the heck is that?”
“When is my fertile window over?!”
Let’s take the guess-work out of it…
Don’t make that mistake: Learn a method
A certified instructor can teach you a method, serve it up on a silver platter for you, and make it oh-so-easy. Save yourself the confusion of piecing together information from all over the internet.
I recommend learning a double-check symptothermal method.
This is the method I teach and use for myself.
It has an effectiveness rate of 99.4-99.6% with perfect use and 98% with typical use.
You have 2 options to learn a method:
1.) DILIGENTLY self-teach
If you’re going to self-teach, make sure you invest the time to do it properly. With user error, the effectiveness of the method decreases.
Here are some resources to start with:
– Sensiplan guide
– Taking charge of Your Fertility
2.) Train with a certified instructor
How do you find one? You’re talking to one!
Hi, I’m Demi and I’m certified by the NFPTA to teach the double-check sympto-thermal method, and have been using it myself for birth control for 6 years.
– Train with a certified instructor: https://brightgirlhealth.com/learn-fertility-awareness/
Training is available internationally in group and 1-on-1 settings
Mistake number 2 – Using the wrong thermometer
Basal body temperature (BBT) is your lowest temperature after 3-4 hours of consecutive sleep.
Using the right thermometer is a MUST!
Can I use my kid’s fever thermometer? – nope!
Can I use a forehead thermometer? – nope!
Don’t make that mistake: Get the right thermometer
An ovulation tracking thermometer needs to track to:
– 2 decimal places celsius OR
– 1 decimal place fahrenheit
Anything less than that won’t be sensitive enough to pick up a temperature shift.
You can get oral ovulation tracking thermometers from many pharmacies.
Oral thermometers are right for you if you can take your temperature at the same time each day after a period of 3-4 hours or uninterrupted sleep.
Can’t get the uninterrupted Zs? Wearable thermometers might be for you…
The Tempdrop is a wearable thermometer, worn on your arm while you sleep.
It takes your temperature under your arm thousands of times during the night.
With the Tempdrop, it doesn’t matter if your sleep is interrupted, because it filters out the un-usable temps.
It’s perfect for you if:
– You can’t get 3-4 hours of uninterrupted sleep
– You can’t take your temp at the same time each day
– You’re a shift worker
– You’re a new parent up in the night with kids
– You have insomnia
– Or you love a sleep-in!
You can check out the Tempdrop here.
Mistake number 3 – Relying on predictions from apps
Your app doesn’t know you’ve been sick, moved house, travelled, or gone through a breakup.
All of these things can delay ovulation.
When ovulation is delayed, your fertile window changes.
If your app predicts your fertile window incorrectly, this can result in:
– An unwanted pregnancy (if trying to avoid)
– Missing your chance to conceive (if trying to conceive)
– Stressing out about a late period when “my app said should have arrived a week ago!”
Don’t make that mistake: Trust your own fertility awareness skills
Fertility awareness skills will allow you to identify ovulation, even if it’s late by a week or a month!
Once ovulation happens, your period will follow 11-18 days later.
You’ll never be confused about why your period is late EVER AGAIN.
Mistake number 4 – Trying to categorise mucus into ‘sticky’, ‘creamy’ and ‘egg white’
Not all cervical mucus looks sticky, creamy or like egg white.
In fact, at the time you’re most likely to get pregnant, it may look runny, like water.
Many people give up on mucus tracking because it’s confusing. But it doesn’t need to be.
Don’t make that mistake: Simplify cervical fluid
I teach my clients only 2 cervical mucus categories – ‘peak’ and ‘non-peak’.
This is far easier.
You can also track the sensation it creates at the vaginal opening if you’re not able to visually see it.
I can teach you too. Send me a message here.
4. What is one piece of advice for young adults to feel empowered in their bodies and their menstrual cycle?
Your period doesn’t have to be a miserable part of your life.
There’s SO MUCH you can do to make it a more positive experience.
For a better cycle experience, my advice is:
1. Connect with a menstrual health practitioner to find and treat the root cause of period/hormonal symptoms
2. Learn fertility awareness to track ovulation and feel more in control of cycle changes
Horrible period pain? …You don’t have to put up with it.
PMS that makes life hard? …Don’t let it live rent-free.
Unpredictable periods? …You can learn fertility awareness to predict them.
You deserve a better period.
This is your sign to take control of your menstrual health!
Interviewed by Clarice Berry
(BHlthSc (TCM), MReproMed (current)