Charting in the First Year

Couple sharing cycle observation on mobile phone.

Congratulations! Now you are married and can put what you learned in your NFP class to practice. On top of combining two lives into one, you now also get to start using NFP ‘for real’ together. It’s a great time for the husband to take over inputting the data onto the chart or app each day. The husband’s participation helps to keep you both on the same page as a couple. It also prevents charting from becoming the “wife’s responsibility” to let the husband know what phase she is in. The PeakDay app is great for this as you can both be logged in at the same time. A quick look at your shared chart can let you both know if it’s time for romance or for abstinence.

Temperature Observations

Having good observations and charts are going to be key to understanding what phase you are in. Remember it can take up to 6 cycles to become comfortable with the mucus observations.  If you are confused about what you are seeing, a quick review of the CCL Student Guide Appendix pg. 236-240 can be very helpful. Taking her temperature can be a challenging habit to establish, but it’s another way the husband can share tracking phases. Are still struggling with remembering to take her temperature at the same waking time each day? Try a wearable device that takes your basal body temperature. Check with your teaching couple or FSI coach for help or if you want a second opinion on your charts. You do not have to struggle on your own!

Cycle Stressors

Be mindful, as well, of all the ways that your body and cycle can be affected by everything going on around you. Emotional stress, physical stress, nutrition, skincare, and vitamins all play a vital role in balancing your monthly cycle. For example, what you put on your skin can have an impact on your cycle. Chemicals from heavily scented body care items and detergents may be absorbed and have an impact on fertility and overall health. Consider switching to gentle and sensitive soaps and detergents. Good sleep is another important component to overall health and healthy cycles.

Develop Good Habits

Now that you are married, you and your spouse can start a new bedtime routine together that encourages good sleeping habits. Help your cycle by taking a good multivitamin and Omega 3 oil, like flax or fish oil. Drink enough water! For more specific help, check out Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon.

Planning Your Family

Now is also the time to discern your openness for new life. Each month during phase 3 is a great time to have discussions revolving around your family planning intentions. It is good to prepare for the next cycle, especially if situation/feelings have changed, and decide what phase 1 rule you will use. If you are seriously avoiding pregnancy, the Day 5/6 rule is the most conservative. Of course, the beauty of NFP is that you can change your family planning intention at any point, but it is always good to have an intentional discussion during the non-fertile time to be on the same page.

Lastly, often there is the concern/question posed to us, “What about a phase 2 wedding night or honeymoon?” About a month before your wedding, you may be able to predict how your next cycle will play out. It is worth the conversation for you, as a couple, if you are planning on avoiding pregnancy, to start with your reasons for delay. Taking this to prayer and/or a spiritual director or priest to help with your discernment may be in order. If your discerning means that you will need to abstain during the honeymoon, know that you are not alone.

Other couples who have also waited recommend lots of fun excursions during the honeymoon and working on building the other types of intimacy during this special time together. Some couples decide to take a longer honeymoon so they can guarantee they are in phase 1 or 3 at some point. May God bless you as you begin your journey with NFP. It may start out feeling a little scary but just know that it will become a way of life soon enough!