Who can handle that?
Fortunately, there’s a limit to how much data you really need, and to how perfect your life has to be.
You’re not a fertility awareness failure if you don’t record every last bit of data – no matter what your app might say, or what the textbook charts look like.
More data is not better if you give up on fertility awareness when it could have been ideal for you.
More data is not better if it obscures the important stuff and you end up thinking a day is fertile – or infertile – when it isn’t.
Of course there minimum requirements. You do need a certain amount of data.
You do need day one of your period. This is non-negotiable.
If you can’t record day one of your period, please don’t use fertility awareness as contraception.
There are other methods – use them instead.
Luckily, thanks to all the apps out there, it is pretty effortless to record day one of your period on your phone.
There’s even a fertility awareness app called CycleBeads based on no more information than that – just day one of your period.
It’s 95% effective, which is good enough for some, and says you are fertile from cycle day 8 to cycle day 19 – so long as your cycles are between 26 and 32 days long.
What about waking temperature?
Surely you have to take your temperature at exactly the same time every single morning?
Yes, OK, it does simplify things. And it might be easier to take it every day – you could get out of the habit if you don’t.
But after the first few months you could cut down on your data collection.
You could simply take it from day five of your cycle and until you have recorded three temperatures in a row that are higher than the previous six (see 3 over 6).
You can also adjust your temperature if you take it more than 30 minutes earlier or later than usual.
Your temperature goes up about 0.1 degrees Celsius for each extra hour later than usual that you take it, and down 0.1 degrees for each hour earlier.
So go ahead and switch off that alarm clock at the weekend.
How about vaginal fluid? Surely you have to keep a close eye on that?
If you do, then your fluid can help you identify the beginning of your fertile days but you can also use cycle length and waking temperature to do that, so long as you have enough data.
You do need to look out for your maximum fluid days – and when they end.
Your maximum fluid days are the two or three days each month when you see lots of vaginal fluid – and I mean lots.
The fluid on these days is usually thick, clear(ish) and very stretchy – like raw egg white.
This can be alarming if you’ve been told fluid is simply your body’s way of keeping clean.
It’s much more than that.
Fluid is how your body either welcomes or blocks sperm.
Friendly fluid can help sperm to hang around in a vagina for up to seven days (I know!).
It can also be sperm rocket fuel and mean sperm reaches your egg or eggs (think twins) in just half an hour.
Your maximum fluid days are the sperm rocket fuel days.
Be extra careful with your precautions on those days, or get busy if you want to get pregnant.
The hang-around fluid is the kind you produce before the rocket fuel – which is why you also need condoms or other precautions at this time if you want to avoid pregnancy.
After your maximum fluid (rocket fuel) days, there will normally be a sudden change to very little fluid - you might get some sticky or cream stuff but it's nothing like the amount you see on your maximum fluid days.
This is how your body blocks sperm from reaching the egg - there's no reason for your fluid to be sperm friendly at this time because there's no egg to fertilise.
Your fluid has formed a sticky plug in your cervix - the entrance to your womb - and is getting on with its usual job of keeping your vagina clean and healthy.
If you can combine information about your waking temperature and fluid, you can identify the infertile days at the end of your cycle (see 3 over 6).
Of course fertility awareness data gathering and interpretation is not for everyone.
And not everyone is happy to use condoms or other precautions for at least ten days a month.
And some women wil not have maximum fluid days – or a clear temperature pattern, especially if they have health issues.
NHS Choices says people should get support before using fertility awareness as contraception.
But you get the general idea. Data collection does not have to be a big deal.
Or maybe you disagree – or have questions. Let me know what you think.
Email me or comment below.