Menstrual Cycle Tracking: Why You Should Consider Doing It
This may be a bit of an overused analogy, but here it goes. You wouldn’t wake up one morning and decide to run a marathon on a whim, expecting there to be no pain or discomfort along the way. You train and you prepare. That training exists in hopes that you’ll run with more ease, speed, and ultimately make it across the finish line. Preparing the body for pregnancy is similar. Sometimes you and your partner decide you’re ready to start a family and boom, it happens right away. More often, it takes some time.
I see a shift happening in the world of reproductive health. I see more and more women wanting to get to know the bodies they are living in more intimately. I believe that this is one of the most important steps you can take if you think or know you may want kids in the future. Instead of waiting until you are already trying, start now, wherever you are.
I didn’t begin to get to know my cycle until my period was absent for a good chunk of time back when I started acupuncture school. Finally with some lifestyle shifts under my belt, a slew of herbs, and regular acupuncture, my cycle regulated. Although I still often gripe at premenstrual moodiness or Day 1 discomfort, I have a new found appreciation for my period every time it comes.
Getting to know the ins and outs of your cycle is a really empowering process. Whether you are doing it as a means of birth control, for family planning, or to just be more in touch with your own rhythm, it’s an awareness that’s pretty special.
The body is an extraordinary and well-oiled machine. A lot of my patients are ones that I see for hormone balancing, irregular and/or painful periods, and fertility. I’m constantly telling them that although there is a common cycle that happens in a women’s body, each one is unique. The amount of endogenous hormones (those made by the body) differs among individuals. That’s why one women may feel great on a certain hormonal birth control and another seems to suffer all of the negative side effects. That’s why it’s important to both have an awareness of the menstrual cycle as a whole and also an awareness of your own body. That being said, here are a few tips that can be used across the board to get you a little more in touch with your cycle and how you might respond to it.
Track your shifts in energy.
During your period your energy tends to be a little lower. This of course can vary depending on your constitution and how your period presents. Generally speaking, as your period comes to an end, your energy levels start to rise again. As you approach ovulation your energy is at it’s peak. You typically feel good and are more likely to be drawn to higher intensity exercise and social events. Your energy will stay up post-ovulation and then slowly start to creep back down as your period nears. This is time where introspection and reflection might feel more natural.
Track your cervical mucus.
The vagina is typically an acidic environment. Sperm is more alkaline and cannot survive in an environment that is too acidic. That’s where fertile cervical mucus comes in. Just before ovulation your body produces a larger quantity of cervical mucus and it has a characteristic feature, which is it’s the consistency of raw egg whites. This mucus serves as a protective mechanism for the sperm to survive, in aid of conception. Whether you are wanting to get pregnant or trying to avoid it, these few days of egg white cervical mucus are most likely your fertile days, so plan unprotected sex accordingly.
Pay attention to your overall wellbeing through each phase of your cycle.
Your menstrual cycle is a direct reflection of your overall health. It’s such an intricate system that involves so many different elements of the body and also affects so many different elements of both mind and body. If there’s a particular part of your cycle that you notice consistently has you feeling off in some way, it might be worth it to dig in a little deeper with a holistic healthcare practitioner and see what might be going on.
Getting to know the body and honoring both it’s different phases and the uniqueness that is you is one of the most empowering and healing processes that you can go through.
Are there any tools you use to stay in tune with your cycle? Feel free to share in the comments below!