Fertility charting is when you keep track of your waking temperature, cervical mucus and the position of your cervix to figure out when and if you are ovulating. It can be used as a form of birth control as well as a tool to help you become pregnant. A good place to start looking for fertility charting information is http://www.tcoyf.com. This is the website for the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, the fertility charters bible.
Fertility charting isn't designed for a person like me. I've have tried on and off for years to master fertility charting with no avail. It's not hard to learn the principles of it, it's just hard to actually practice them.
My first problem with charting is that you have to take your wake up and take your temperature at the same time each day. Sounds simple but I have a five year old that likes to wake me up at bizarre hours on occasion. I have a husband who needs a ride to work in the morning, but the actual time varies with the whim of his boss. So setting the alarm clock for 6:3am every morning only worked maybe three days a week. I tried setting it early, say 4am when I knew no one would wake me up earlier, but you need 4 solid hours of sleep before taking your temperature to get an accurate result. Sometimes I go to bed at 10pm and it works fine. Other times I don't get to bed until 3am so that plan didn't work either.
The second problem I have with charting is that random things can screw up your results. Say you have a few beers one night, well the next day your temperatures are going to be off. Now I don't advocate drinking heavily when trying to conceive, but hey, it happens. You're not pregnant yet, you may not be for a while, you might as well take advantage of the free bar at your best friends wedding. Another random thing that kills charting is sex. Weird, especially if you are trying to become pregnant, but unprotected sex leads to semen and semen covers up your cervical mucus.
The third problem I have with charting is that you have to be kind of invasive with yourself. I'm a huge believer that a woman should be comfortable with all aspects of her body. But the idea of bending myself over and sticking two fingers way high up in my nether regions to man-handle my cervix on a daily basis is just too much for me.
After saying all that I do have to admit that I do use the free fertility charting features at http://www.fertilityfriend.com. I just use them wrong. Every day I log on and chart whether or not I had sex the day before. Very basic but it helps me to look back and see when I should have had sex if I get my period at the end of my cycle. It also helps me keep track of my LMP since I tend to forget exactly when I get my period in case I do get pregnant or just to let me know when my period is due. Of course this only works for me since my cycles have always been regular.
And just to make it clear, I am in no way bashing fertility charting. If you have the discipline to go at it full force than more power to you. I know it works if you do it right as I have had the opportunity to chat with many woman over at the iVillage message boards who managed to get pregnant after only one or two cycles of fertility charting. It's just girls like me need a different way. Like maybe one of those $300 ovulation predictors, now if only I had that kind of money lying around. Maybe after the tax money gets here I can finagle something with the husband.