Despite the title of this post, I'm not against period tracking apps. But I do think it's extremely important for women to paper chart during the first 6 months to a year of beginning to learn about and tracking their menstrual cycles and fertility signs. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is listed as # 2 down below. And chances are, women who paper chart usually like it so much that they prefer this method long after they've learned all there is to know about tracking their cycles.
Here's some top reasons why I recommend paper charting:
1. 100% privacy and control over your personal data
- No app or company has access to your very personal health and lifestyle data
- Your data is not sold or used anywhere
- Check the terms and conditions of an app before use--is your data being sold to another company for “research.” And will that research really truly have women’s health in their best interest?
2. You learn better
- Studies show that you have a greater ability to learn, memorize, grasp new concepts, and synthesize data when handwriting versus typing.
- When you begin to learn about your menstrual cycle and fertility signs, it’s definitely going to be a time of learning, exploration and some real "aha" moments- don't let an app steal this experience from you
- Ask any woman who paper charts the first day of her most recent period and I guarantee you she'll remember the date, how she felt, what her blood looked like etc., and then ask a woman who uses a period tracker app and I guarantee you she'll say, "hold on, let me check."
3. You take more ownership over your reproductive health
- No piece of technology, no pill or device, and no person besides yourself is telling you about your body. It is all up to you. For some this sounds frightening because we've been taught that we can not learn about our own bodies--our reproductive health is completely in the hands of doctors. But you can learn! And there's no more beautiful way to begin than by checking in with yourself every night and every morning, writing down your daily observations and your BBT.
- Taking that first step to learn about your body is sometimes all your body needs in order to start healing and getting your cycle back in balance, and feeling connected to your feminine creativity and intuition.
4. An app can not tell if you are fertile or not, so if you want to avoid pregnancy, best not to rely solely on an app
- If you use an app that has a predictor mode-- letting you know your fertile days-- then it is using an algorithm. It is using your past data and tens of thousands of other user’s data, to predict whether or not you are fertile. And past data is not a safe way to go about predicting your next ovulation timeframe. That's what your cervical fluid is for. It is only your cervical fluid and cervical position that can predict when you are most fertile, while the basal body temperature is used to confirm ovulation has already occurred. To put it bluntly, until an app can take a look at your undies or toilet paper when you wipe, I wouldn’t trust an app to tell me if I’m fertile or not.
- If you want to use an app for convenience, turn off the predictor mode so you can determine for yourself whether you are fertile or not.
- Your basal body temperature (BBT) is used to confirm that ovulation has already occurred, because there will be a sustained thermal shift due to progesterone, which is heat producing in the body and increases after ovulation.
- there are strict rules to natural contraception with fertility awareness and you must self-educate on or work with a certified fertility awareness educator.
5. Something powerful about writing things down
- There’s something magical about writing things down. It becomes an imprint in your mind and heart, and a communication to the universe. It’s more intimate and facilitates the realization of your desires and goals.
6. Easier to see your patterns emerge from cycle to cycle
- Once you begin writing down your body’s fertility signs, desires, cravings, moods, energy, libido, etc. during each day of your cycle, you’ll begin to see patterns emerge and understand why these patterns are there, helping you plan your personal and professional life around your cycle.
- You won’t be so confused about you and your body anymore! Each phase of your cycle- bleeding days, pre-ovulatory days, ovulation, and post-ovulation/pre-menstruation-- is brought on by changing levels of hormones, causing physical, emotional and mental changes to occur. It’s amazing actually getting to see patterns visually in your charts.
7. More freedom from your phone
- Phones are amazing, and they are also full of distractions. Paper charting offers zero distractions. With apps, you invariably get a text, a notification of some sort, or your thumb automatically opens up your email or instagram.
- Gives you time for you to check in and get away from our ever-increasing dependency on technology
Please share this article with a girlfriend! Knowledge is power!
And if you want to get started paper charting today, you can:
- purchase the Menstrual Calendar Journal here, and
- self educate with books like Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler or The Fifth Vital Sign by Lisa Herndricskon-Jack, or work directly with a certified fertility awareness educator.