When my partner, Chuck, and I first started learning about ways to track my cycles and understand them without a lot of confusion, we stumbled across natural family planning. We loved the idea of using something that was non-invasive (as far as pills, surgeries, etc. go anyway), and that it seemed fairly easy. We tried keeping track of my cervical mucus and temperatures for a few months in an attempt to avoid getting pregnant, but this method didn't come through for us. (The pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage.) NFP is overwhelming, and for me in particular, I am not willing to give NFP alone another shot.
So! I discovered the OvaCue - a fertility tracker that uses your saliva and cervical mucus to help you keep track of your cycle. (More on how that works later!) While OvaCue is not FDA approved to help avoid pregnancy, it can be used this way, and people have successfully done so. (The OvaCue was created specifically to help people achieve pregnancy. But when used in "reverse", it can also be used to avoid pregnancy.)
I decided I wanted to give this a try. I'm not personally comfortable using the OvaCue alone, so we still take other precautions, but I am SO happy to be getting to know my body in this new way on such a deep level. Let me explain what I mean.
The OvaCue is made up of a small hand held electronic device, an oral sensor, and a vaginal sensor. These sensors attach by USB cord to the handheld device, and when in use, record the appropriate information which the device then stores until it's uploaded to your computer. It couldn't be easier!
I love using the OvaCue because it is fairly flexible in the realm of natural forms of birth control, and also extremely easy. When you wake up in the morning and go to the bathroom for the first time, you turn on the device, pop the oral sensor in your mouth to take your reading, and then switch to the vaginal sensor and take that reading and then you are DONE. The device records all the information, including color coding the display calendar so that you know where you are in your cycle. It. is. amazing.
A few things to get used to once you start using the OvaCue:
- You need to get in the habit of going into the bathroom to take your readings when you first get out of bed.
- You can't eat/drink/or put anything in your mouth before taking your oral reading.
- You need to take your readings at least 8 hours after intercourse or immediately before. (This means that impromptu morning sex before anyone is out of bed has an extra step.)
- You can't forget to use it. If you do, it will throw off any of the information you've gathered thus far.
- The OvaCue is not touch screen, and at first that really bothered me and confused me. However, as I started using it, I realize that it's actually a VERY good thing it's not touch screen! I bumped the screen, dropped the device, and otherwise touched it in ways that would have messed up important information if it had been touch screen. So consider it a blessing that it's not. :)
- Nothing is foolproof.
The OvaCue is extremely easy and intuitive to use once you get used to it. It does take a fair amount of messing around with it and exploration before you actually start using it to feel comfortable. And I highly recommend taking some time to just take a peek at all the options, play around with them before you set them, and play around with using the two sensors before you try recording actual results for the first time.
I keep the device and sensors in a basket in the bathroom. I also like to keep my instruction booklet there too as a reference guide. It is so much fun to learn about what your body is doing each day.
The vaginal sensor is long and skinny and goes way further up into your vagina than your fingers can easily reach. I love this because it gives me a much more accurate visual of what my cervical mucus is doing for the day. That's something I wasn't able to accurately asses when I was doing NFP without the OvaCue. It can be the slightest bit uncomfortable sticking something so cold and skinny into your vagina, but it's not too bad. I have discovered that depending on the position of my cervix, I need to change position to allow the sensor to fall into the correct placement. No biggie.
Using the oral sensor is very straight forward - you place it so that the entire flat part is on the tip of your tongue, hold it there for a second, and then remove it. Easy peasy!
If I was trying to conceive, I can't even imagine how incredibly useful the OvaCue would be! By showing you the specific days you're possibly fertile right down to the day that you're ovulating, it would make understanding your body's cycle so much easier. And in reverse, if you're trying to avoid pregnancy (but still willing to get pregnant if it were to happen) this is an incredibly useful tool!
I would highly recommend the OvaCue because of how easy it is to use and it's reliability.
So what about you? What has your experience been with tracking your cycles? Do you think something like the OvaCue would be helpful to you? I'd love to hear your thoughts!