Everything in nature works in cycles and the female body is no different.
There are seasons of fertility and creation, of shedding and renewal. There is a time to be outside and deal with the world and a time to turn to yourself.
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is learning about the patterns and cycles of your own body. Not only can this provide you with valuable information about your health, but it can also help streamline your life in a way that works for your cycle – instead of feeling like you’re swimming upriver and going against your own nature.
A completely practical and accessible tool for understanding your body is the cycle journal.
With a cycle journal, not only can you keep track of when you are menstruating and ovulating, but also how your mood is at different times of the month or when you want to schedule a time for yourself.
Cycle Journaling can provide valuable insights to cure reproductive health disorders, help you conceive, or prevent pregnancy.
To start a cycle journal, you of course need a journal first. Lots of companies and artists make fantastic cycling calendars, but you can use any journal or calendar to make one at home.
When creating your own you need to know what to track. Fortunately, we are here to help.
The important things first
First, put your pages together. We recommend creating a document on your computer or creating it by hand if you feel smart. Leave a space in the corner for the date. You can bind your journal with staples or thread.
If you are using a pre-made journal, you need to keep a template in the beginning so that you can remember what to keep track of each day.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be too formal or revealing. Even writing down a few words to spare time will give you a clearer idea of your patterns and needs.
It is obvious. Learn about the physical changes that come with different times in your cycle. Wondering what to look for?
Period: The first day of menstruation marks the start of your cycle. Not only do you want to keep track of which days your periods start and end, but you also want to keep track of the consistency of your blood. Which color is it? Are there any clots? Is it heavier or lighter than normal? If so, do you know when? Is there an average length of your cycle?
Fulfill: Getting to know your Vaginal discharge, can be intimidating at first, but becomes natural after a while. Does it smell “normal”? When is it thickest? Do you know what your discharge looks like just before and during ovulation?
Cervix: Your cervix is the portal from your vagina to your uterus. It changes and fluctuates depending on where you are in your cycle, with pregnancy and labor, and whether you’re turned on. Get to know your Lady Donut, as a key indicator of ovulation.
Breasts: Hormone fluctuations such as increases in estrogen and progesterone can cause your breasts to enlarge or become sore during your period. In some people, they also notice differences in breasts during ovulation. Talk to your breasts and see how they feel throughout the month. You have valuable information!
Temperature: If you’re actively trying to conceive (or avoid conception) you may want to invest in a basal thermometer. These sensitive thermometers can detect the subtle rise in temperature after ovulation.
Cravings: Any cravings you have, especially during your period, may indicate a deficiency. Some of the biggest deficiencies that will affect your periods are iron, magnesium, and calcium. A simple supplement or diet change can greatly reduce your period problems.
What else? You may also want to track changes in your skin or acne, gas and severe pain, or sensations such as cramps, headaches and back pain.
Mentally and emotionally
No, it’s not all in your head. It is completely normal to experience mood swings and emotions during your cycle. Knowing these changes can even help you prevent or treat them.
Energy: What time of the month do you have the most energy? How is your attention span changing? Are there any dramatic break-ins on certain days? What will help you to restore your energy?
Socializing: Yes, your cycle can absolutely affect how social you feel. For the most part, people are more open-minded before and during ovulation. While they tend to isolate more during their luteal phase (premenstrual phase) and during their periods. This is just the standard, what is normal for you?
Sex drive: Sometimes hormones = lust. Ovulation is where you may be most aroused, as that’s nature’s intention, but many people are horny during their periods, at the end, or at any other time of the month. Do you have a specific pattern?
Moods: One of the main PMS symptoms is mood swings and irritability. As you track your moods, also pay attention to when you are feeling the happiest, most sensitive, and most tender, and whether these change on certain days of your cycle.
Congratulations! Now you know how to navigate the world of reproductive health with an incredibly helpful tool.
No matter where you are on your reproductive journey. Whether you are menopausal, on birth control, pregnant or bleeding regularly, you can keep a log of your cycle. Simply make the appropriate adjustments for each phase.
While you want to write in it as consistently as possible, you don’t have to worry if you miss a day here and there. A balance between flexibility and consistency is all you need to decipher your cycle and get to know your body on a deeper level.
Natasha’s passion for reproductive health began at the age of fourteen when she was present at the birth of her youngest sister. Her incredible experiences as a birthing doula gave her insights into the magical realm of childbirth, pregnancy and everything in between. Your role as an obstetrician is her way of serving as an activist. She uses writing as an important educational tool to bring about changes in our view of reproductive health as a whole.