The needs of your body (and your soul) fluctuate throughout the month; as the moon waxes and wanes, so too, do you. By coming to an understanding of, and appreciation for these shifts in energy and needs by menstrual cycle tracking, the entire month can become a more gentle and enjoyable experience. Yup, we did just use the word enjoyable whilst talking about menstrual cycles. And no, we haven’t gone doo-lally.
Read on to find out what we learned from tracking our own menstrual cycles. Why it’s been such an empowering experience and why it could be a total game changer for you on your healing journey.
Gina’s experience of menstrual cycle tracking:
I used to have an awful time with PMS. I felt like I was losing my mind every month. The thoughts and feelings that overcame me would simultaneously feel like they didn’t belong to me at all, and yet be the most powerfully overwhelming driving force behind my entire week (sometimes two) before my bleed.
I was on the pill for a decade (age 14 to 24) so my body never really got a chance to settle into its own rhythm. I never got a chance to learn to listen to myself or learn what my body was trying to tell me. Although I was particularly young, most women I have spoken to have a similar body numbing experience with hormonal contraceptives. But that chat is for another day.
Pill or no pill, what ultimately did happen is my body became more and more angry at me for refusing to listen to her. When I did decide to come off hormonal contraceptives, my body screamed. She stomped her feet and shouted at me until I FINALLY quietened myself and decided to listen.
Learning to listen to my red bloody rage has been truly transformative
I have learned that the week after my period I am full of ‘get shit done’ energy. I can sit in front of my laptop for 10 hours straight and think nothing of it. I’m able to absorb information and I want to feed my mind.
The time over ovulation is my creative peak. It’s when I come into my own and have my best ideas. This is often the time when brilliant ideas will pop into my head as I’m drifting off to sleep and I now always keep a notebook handy for these few days.
The week before my period is the best time for making these creative ideas a reality. I want to make, I want to nest, I want to ‘do’. It’s also when my emotions are most surface level. It’s the perfect time for me to cry, to journal and to do the most powerful release work. To let go of all of the crap that’s built up over the month.
The first day of my period, is now always my self care day. Baths, naps, cacao, dog snuggles all day. If I allow myself this one day of deep self nourishment, the rest of my period is a breeze. (Actually as I write this, I realise I didn’t give myself, my self care day this month. And I am truly paying for it now! Headaches and fatigue, a loss of appetite and zero motivation. Evidence of its importance.)
I’ve been leaning into what my body wants and needs each month. And I have not only achieved more in a shorter amount of time, but I have not broken myself in doing so. My periods are shorter and lighter (always 3 days, without fail). My PMS mood swings are much less dramatic and life consuming and I actually look forward to the first day of my period so that I can enjoy an entire day all about nourishing myself.
Lea’s experience of menstrual cycle tracking:
In truth, I didn’t truly appreciate a menstrual CYCLE (rather than just menstruation) until I was back in the doctor’s office in my 20’s trying to get conventional medical professionals to take me seriously regarding my menstrual dysfunction. I realised my own extreme lack of knowledge about my own physiology when I found it nigh on impossible to answer the doctor’s questions about what day of my cycle I was on and how long my cycles lasted.
Much like many women over the past few decades, I went onto The Pill fairly early and stayed on it for a decade. I had been convinced by the suggestion that The Pill would solve all my menstrual woes; which had been many since I started getting my period.
The symptoms I masked – intense mood swings, heavy bleeding, excrutiating pain to the point of vomiting, amongst others – were a warning bell that got rudely ignored for a decade but could have saved me a deal of suffering if they had been paid greater attention to at the time.
Tracking my cycle enabled me to be my own advocate with medical professionals and an expert on my own body
I finally got confirmation last October, that I have Endometriosis; a very real dis-ease. If I hadn’t delved into menstrual cycle tracking and started properly listening to the messages my body was screaming at me, I might not have that confirmation. Getting medical professionals to take you seriously, as a woman, can still be hard work and the old notion of “hysteria” is definitely still an undercurrent. The best way to dispel that notion and become your own best advocate is to arm yourself with all the information your body can give you and become an expert on yourself.
I’m still learning to love my cycle as I make lifestyle adaptations to soothe my Endo symptoms but things are definitely improving. I’ve found a real joy in observing how my inner cycle can be reflected in the lunar cycle and the mirror that comes from syncing with Gina – knowing when we are both ovulating and both suffering with PMS makes working on Wild as the Moon together so much more ease-ful.
What you need to know about menstrual cycle tracking
1. We have four distinctly different phases within the duration of one menstrual cycle
- The follicular stage
- The luteal phase
Each phase of your menstrual cycle has its own hormones, its own characteristics and its own ‘symptoms’. Signalling to your brain and the rest of your body what you need and when.
From basic human needs like sleep, certain foods and sex. To when you are best able to communicate your feelings, tap into your creativity or do deep healing/ release work. Your body only wants to talk to you. So by getting to know your own menstrual cycle and tracking it properly, you will develop a much better relationship with your body and mind. In turn, upping your general well-being.
2. By tracking your cycle you can begin to hear the messages from your body
When you hear the messages your body is communicating to you throughout your cycle, you’ll be able to start adapting accordingly. By resting at the right times you can level up your general productivity. Through allowing yourself time to feel into the emotions brought up at certain times, you can reduce physical pain and PMS symptoms. And, by learning to process those emotions in a healthy way you will feel far more emotionally stable.
You’ll figure out what days you simply need to curl up in a ball and hide under the duvet from the rest of the world. What days you are capable of getting all the things done. When to harness your creativity the best. How to communicate with your loved ones in the most productive way. And when you just need to pour your feelings out.
In the words of hero and menstrual maven Lisa Lister:
This shouldn’t be something we have to discover, it’s our birth right as a woman. The menstrual cycle, if we work with it and not against it, is an incredibly potent experience and my big heart wish for this book is that it’s your call to power. Your incredible and badass SHE Power.
Deliciously divine and fiercely feminine. I now live my life totally in sync with my cycle – business, relationships, sex life, health, money, creativity – are all in complete alignment with my lady rhythms.Lisa Lister, Love your lady landscape
Through charting I’ve activated my super powers and know when I rock out at word-writing, when I can get a metric shit ton of work completed with ease, when I need to not talk or be near the general public, and when I have my very best orgasms. Which FYI: is a super power all of it’s own.
I still have my womb – despite the doctor’s best efforts to take it out, my pain is minimal and manageable, and through finding love for my cycle, I’ve found love for myself too as a lover, as a friend, as a daughter, as a creatrix and as a woman. I want this for you too, I want this for EVERY girl and woman that bleeds.”
Suffering from outrageous PMS mood swings or awful pain and other physical symptoms? It’s almost definitely your body trying to tell you that you’re not paying attention to your own needs. The subtle hints stopped working, so now your body is screaming at you.
Start tuning in to what you really need.
3. Menstrual cycle tracking is about more than just popping a red ‘P’ in your calendar on the day you come on.
When we were “educated” on the female cycle at school, most of us were given the focal point of the period and taught how to effectively cover that up. The bleed itself is only one piece of your cyclical puzzle. It’s day 1 of the cycle, yes, but all the other days are equally as important. If you suffer with menstrual dis-ease, you can have a positive impact on your symptoms by making adjustments throughout your cycle. E.g. seed / herb cycling or supplements, rather than only addressing the symptoms come period time.
To start tracking your cycle effectively, you want to know (as a minimum):
- What day your period starts.
- What day your period finishes.
- When you ovulate.
- The length of your cycle (which will often have some variations) i.e. from first day of bleeding until the day before your next period.
Once you have these bits of information in place (either through a tracking app, a journal or noted in your calendar), you can start looking at your energy levels, mood and other experiences across your cycle.
Have you started getting to know your unique cyclical nature?
We’d love to hear about your experiences. Pop us a note in the comments below and let us know what you’ve discovered from tracking your menstrual cycle.
You may also be interested in this blog post – Getting cosy with your cervix – whilst delving into the depths of your physiology.