Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Charting Opportunities!

Well, most of the forums I go to the women use Fertility Friend for charting because it is free and has a nice feature for sharing charts.

So, the other day I was at Countdown to Pregnancy and I noticed they were taking beta testers for their new BBT charting feature. This really excited me and so I definitely signed up for it. It made me wonder if there were other charting options out there and whether the Taking Charge of Your Fertility site was currently offering an online charting option. When I first checked it out in early/mid 2009 they did not have an online version available.

I've often wanted to use the charting software I got from my Taking Charge of Your Fertility book but it is for WINDOWS users only and I have a Mac at home. Here's a picture of my pristine disk, never been unwrapped from the book:

When I checked the TCOYF site, I noticed that they too were offering beta testing of their about-to-launch ONLINE charting software! I signed up right there, although the thought of two charts right now is daunting. (Let alone three when I test CountdowntoPregnancy's too!). They don't have the nifty sharing abilities that FF has, but I created a ticker thanks to Ticker Factory for my TCOYF chart below

You can now find links to both of my charts at the top of the blog. Just a small review, I've been using it for about a week and there are definite differences between it and FF. Some things I like, some I think are just a matter of it being what I am used to and can't decide which is best. As a beta-tester they awarded me either 36 weeks or 36 months (can't remember!) of the Premium version and I'm not certain right now which of the following features are available on the basic version vs. premium.

What I like about TCOYF--

  • Capacity for multiple charts with different layouts, each with different sharing capacities.
    • What this means is that I can have my own personal chart that no one sees with every feature I find important. If, however, I don't want the whole world to know my BD schedule, or some other mundane detail, I can create a second chart that I can choose to share with everyone. There are also sharing options for registered TCOYF members and additional 2 or 3 options within certain groups in the membership for those who utilize all of the other aspects of the site (such as forums).
  • Customization!
    • Ok, so this is my girly side, but I've discovered that I can make my chart and calendar have any color theme I like! And I like that. I like being able to make it my own. I have noticed that it doesn't appear that you can customize each chart differently (how you customize your chart is the same for all charts whether you have one or 10). You can also customize your calendar, including icons on both the calendar and chart.
  • Vaginal sensation and other charting features
    • One thing I like about FAM (Family Awareness Method) principles is that you can check vaginal sensation as well as CM. Have you ever had what seemed like sticky CM but also had a very watery, wet feel? On FF it says to check the most fertile you detect. On TCOYF you could mark the CM as Sticky and the VS (Vaginal Sensation) as lubricative, hot, humid, slippery (that's one selection) This adds for finer interpretation of fertility.
    • This may seem minor, but I like that all you have to do to mark BD is check a box for intercourse. I think it takes away a level of unnecessary stress and indecision. Isn't what really matters the fact that in some way (whether AM, PM, or mulitiple times) that there is a chance you fertilized an egg? You could always mark in notes if there were some special circumstances (like IUI or IVF vs Intercourse).
  • You can choose when to exit the input window
    • One thing that constantly bugs me about entering info into FF is that as soon as I hit "save" you are involuntary taken back to your chart. They do have the "save and next" button if you are editing a few days in a row. But I often start inputing today's information and then realize that I forgot to put the intercourse for yesterday, or symptom that occurred yesterday. Then I have to save what I have for today and manually go back to the day in question. With TCOYF's site, you can start inputing info on any calendar day, hit save and then guide within the input window to another calendar day that you need to input info on either before OR after the current day. I do have to remember to exit manually when I am done because I am so used to being taken to the chart upon saving.
  • You can also use this site to AVOID pregnancy!
    • So, let's say you have achieved pregnancy but would like to NOT go back to hormonal birth control while you're breast-feeding or waiting to conceive again. This site has the capacity to help you avoid pregnancy as well as achieve it. I think once it comes out of beta testing switching back and forth will be easier, but I do recall that when I was first signing up it asked if I were trying to prevent or achieve pregnancy. Indeed, the FAM principles are directed at a woman in any stage of life or fertility goal
    • FF is specifically geared toward conception and here is what their FAQ says regarding using their site to prevent pregnancy:
      • Can charting help me avoid pregnancy?
      • Fertility charting is certainly a reliable and empowering means of family planning. FertilityFriend.com is totally tuned and geared to help you get pregnant and would put you at great risk if you used any of its interpretations to avoid pregnancy. The principles of chart interpretation for pregnancy avoidance and pregnancy achievement are significantly different and unfortunately not just the reverse of each other. Using any of FertilityFriend.com's chart interpretations in reverse will not work and will put you at risk to get pregnant. Avoiding pregnancy using fertility charting is a different approach altogether.If you plan to use fertility charting (or Fertility Awareness) to avoid pregnancy we recommend that you get in touch with a Natural Family Planing or Fertility Awareness counselor and get a specific training for that purpose.
 Things I don't like about TCOYF online charting:
  • You can't edit the chart from the chart
    • Basically, if you want to input any information you must go to the calendar layout and click on the date. This is essentially what can also be done in FF, but in FF the calendar is on the same page as the chart and IF you want you can click on that day on the chart itself to edit it.
  • Sharing is mostly self-directed
    • I had to use the FAQ to figure out how to have someone be able to view my chart (but did find the FAQ VERY user friendly!). Sharing basically involves marking who I allow to see the chart and it also informed me what link to use to share with others. For most women they would be stuck providing a simple text link such as this : My Chart. I like experimenting and discovered with BBCode for a ticker made by an online service (such as AlternaTicker
    • Here is an example of the BBCode for the ticker below I made on AlternaTicker: [URL=http://alterna-tickers.com][IMG]http://alterna-tickers.com/tickers/generated_tickers/4/45pxnasbf.png[/IMG][/URL] AlternaTickers - Cool, free Web tickers 
    • To enable this ticker to link to my chart on a forum using BBCode, I would remove the url "http://alterna-tickers.com" and replace it with my charting code as seen below (I bolded the URL in the above and below codes for illustration only. [URL=http://www.tcoyf.com/members/lissabee79/charts/2.aspx][IMG]http://alterna-tickers.com/tickers/generated_tickers/4/45pxnasbf.png[/IMG][/URL] and voila! I have the ticker of my choice routing to the site of my choice. However, many women will need a lot more guidance to find out how to do this for themselves, which is why I like the sharing capabilities of FF better. Also, since FF allows for creating your own ticker the ticker will automatically update with your chart. When you create your own ticker, you may need to make a new one for each cycle to remain current.
  • No delete option?
    • Somehow it selected one day for my first cycle and my actual first cycle entered is now marked as cycle 2. I haven't checked the FAQ yet, but I've looked at all the places I might edit my cycle and can't figure out how to delete or merge it. It wasn't REALLY my 1st cycle day, but it could have been, I just don't want to reset all of my dates and also don't want to enter all of the info from the previous cycle.
  • Lack of features compared to FF
    • FF just has SO many features that guide in interpretation of the chart compared to TCOYF. You can look at an analysis of all your intercourse in TCOYF and it will give an estimate of effectiveness. You can also look at a section under Fertility planner that predicts chances of pregnancy based on the chart. But I like the tools in FF much better, just because there are so many more. 
Maybe after I have used TCOYF a few cycles I'll get the hang of it. Right now I have SO many days in FF that I probably wouldn't use TCOYF primarily, but I like the idea that I could use it for pregnancy prevention in the future.


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Motherhood Wanted approved!

Motherhood Wanted approved!
Diana Farrell, MA


Motherhood Wanted approved!