Being born and raised as Catholics, my husband Nikko and I were introduced to natural family planning when we started our series of pre-wedding meetings with our priest. Natural Family Planning is a collective term for methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies, based on the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. All that fancy talk basically means you would only engage in sexual activity during the infertile phase to avoid pregnancy. It is the only form of contraception recognized by the church that is still aligned with God’s expectations of marriage. Its a simple concept yet I was blissfully unaware of my cycles besides knowing that my “infertile phase” came once every month since I was twelve or so. I’ve never been on birth control so my cycles have always been relatively irregular (varying plus or minus a week) and I’ve also never tracked my cycles.
Since Nikko and I are planning to start a family within the next couple of years, I decided that I should start tracking these cycles. I wanted to know when to expect “shark week” to the day. I also want to know when ovulation is occurring, especially because unlike your period, there are sometimes no outward signs or symptoms that you are ovulating. In order to track these cycles, I’ve solicited the use of technology, an app called “Flo.” I merely typed in “period tracker” into the App Store search and VOILA! This app had great reviews and was free so I thought “Why not?” The app icon looks like this:
Upon opening the app for the first time, it guided me through setup and personalization starting with the most important question: “Are you 1) not looking to get pregnant 2) looking to get pregnant or 3) already pregnant?” It then asks you how long your period cycle is and roughly how long your total monthly cycle is. Based on these inputs, it gives you a rough estimate of when you will ovulate based on your last period. The app does account for the body’s natural variation in cycles and let’s you know the best (or worst) case scenario for planning sexual activity. The calendar layout is easy to read and the first window that pops up is the current day and your chances of getting pregnant if you should engage in sexual activity. My favorite part of the app is that if you click on the “+” sign on your daily view page, you can log your symptoms each day. You can log weight, sleep, and water intake. You can log moods, symptoms, sexual activity, appearances of vaginal discharge, and other outside factors that may be affecting how you feel. Once you enter these, the app gives you insights into why you may be feeling the way you do.
After using the app for a couple of days, I loved it so much that I texted Jordan about it to suggest that she start using it too. But wouldn’t you know it?! She already had it on her phone and loved using it too! I’ve only been using it for about a month now with hopes of it being accurate to a tee if and when we feel the time is right for us to start a family. The more information that app has about your cycles, the more accurate it will become.
Even in the short month that I have been using the app, it has helped me to get to know my body better. Tracking my cycles is a first for me and it has helped me immensely be more in tune with moods, acne, illness etc. It has allowed us to make more educated family planning decisions so that we can have a hand in God’s plans for our future family.