dipstickWhen I get an email from a Hormonology reader that says, “I don’t know if I transitioned from my Week 2 to my Week 3,” I always send her to my handy “road map to your hormones”  web page that helps you easily pinpoint where you are at any time in your monthly cycle–and especially the day you pass from your Week 2 to your Week 3, which is indicated by when you ovulate.

But, today I’d like to share my personal favorite method of determining when your Week 3 starts. Fair warning, though, it’s not for the squeamish or those who aren’t comfortable touching their own bodies:

I prefer to do the “dipstick test”.

This is where I slip a finger inside my vaginal canal and–using it a bit like a cotton swab–I sort of swish it around a little to capture some fluid. Then, I pull it out and take a looksee.

If the fluid is watery, thin and slippery, then–hallelujah!–it means I’m still in my Week 2. And there will be much rejoicing.

If the fluid is cloudy, thick and sticky–a fitting metaphor for the more somber, heavy tone of Week 3–then it means progesterone is rising and, thusly, Week 3 is here. And I’ll be shedding a tear while waving a white handkerchief as I bid farewell to my Week 2.

I actually use this method quite regularly. That’s because I have a cycle that fluctuates in length from month to month, typically between 26 and 29 days. And this is convenient for me to do in the shower every morning.

Once I know I’m in the first day of my Week 3, I know in 14 days I’m going to get my period.

That’s because, generally speaking, the first half of your cycle is the part that fluctuates in length. The second half of your cycle is usually a set 14 days (give or take a day and barring illness, excessive stress, medication or other wonkiness).

This means if you have cycle that lasts longer than 28 days, it’s because the first half of your cycle is longer than 14 days.

And if you have cycle that’s shorter than 28 days, it means the first half of your cycle is shorter than 14 days.

Since this topic has come up quite a bit in recent emails, I just thought I’d share it with you here.

And, if you need a thought cleanse after picturing me doing my dipstick test–relax, it’s only natural to imagine the scene you’re reading about–then here’s an adorable baby orangutan to end with:

So full of "awww", right?

So full of “awww”, right?

PS: If you’re in your Week 3 like me right now, those maternal feelings kicked up by your rising progesterone are probably going to make you extra-melty over this pic. Just wait till you read about this little guy’s story–you’ll need a hanky. (Don’t worry–happy ending!)

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