The average woman has approximately 456 total periods over 38 years. If her period lasts about 5 days, that’s 2,280 days of menstrual bleeding or 6.25 years of her life. And that’s just your menstrual cycle (i.e. the time that a woman is bleeding). But what about the rest of your cycle?
Your entire menstrual cycle matters!
And your period problems are no longer something to be endured, hidden or managed with the oral contraceptive pill only. There are better solutions and alternative options. Women everywhere are catching on, asking questions, educating themselves, and taking their health into their own hands. I’m excited to be part of this movement as both a woman and a healthcare provider. People like you need access to information to make informed choices.
Today’s post is all about period tracking – what to track and why it’s important.
Most people use period apps to track data about their monthly cycle. Tracking your menstrual cycle’s signs and symptoms is the best way to get to know your body. Your period problems are essentially clues, telling you that something is off. You may not know this, but evaluation of menstrual cycle patterns is like a vital sign, such as blood pressure. When blood pressure is too high or too low, that is a sign of a potential health concern. In a similar way, you can view your menstrual cycle patterns as a sign of your underlying health. But what is it telling you? That is the ultimate question, and that’s what we teach you in Module 3 of The Yoni Course – Menstrual Cycle Awareness.
As a period detective, your first job is to collect information. Identifying your menstrual cycle patterns may require a few months of tracking; however, you probably have a good sense of your most concerning period problem(s). By learning what is normal (not common) vs not normal, you can better understand your period clues in the context of your health.
The following steps outline how to interpret your period clues and take action:
- Collect information, aka track your cycle
- Understand how your period should be (what is normal)
- Understand the things that can go wrong (what is not normal)
- Reasons why. You may need to ask your doctor for help at this stage*
- Treatment. By this stage you’ll feel empowered to have a very open and productive conversation with your healthcare provider about treatment options
* You know your body better than anyone else, but we are all susceptible to personal biases. It is best to have a professional healthcare provider (HCP) evaluate your health concerns in the context of your overall health status. This blog post is an educational resource. It is meant to highlight potential root causes for common period periods for the purpose of self-awareness. It is not meant to replace diagnosis by a qualified HCP.
All of this is covered in greater detail in The Yoni Course. But I want you to take action today! And if you plan to join us for The Yoni Course, then the following information is going to help you get the most out of Module 3: Menstrual Cycle Awareness.
Step 1. Collect information: tracking your cycle
If you’re not using a period app (and even if you are), this is almost everything that you could track.
- First day of your heaviest flow is “day 1” of your cycle
- Number of days between “day 1” and your next “day 1” is the length of your cycle (for example, 28 days)
- Number of days of bleeding
- Bleeding between periods (spotting)
- Amount of menstrual fluid lost (determined by use of diva cup, pads, tampons, or combination of these)
- Consistency and colour of flow, including number and size of menstrual clots
- Cervical fluid. Read this post from Clue for more information
- Pain: quality (ie. sharp vs dull), intensity (numeric rating scale 0-10 with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain), location (ie. stomach, back, down the legs), duration (period of time you experience pain), and time qualities (ie. Intermittent, variable or stable time patterns)
- Genitourinary and gastrointestinal issues, like urinary tract infections, nausea, abdominal pain etc
- Life events: what is the impact of your symptoms on daily life, work, socializing and sex?
- Waking temperatures or BBT tracking. Read this post from the 2015 American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG) statement about fertility awareness method for more information
- Duration of luteal phase, or the second phase of your cycle (between ovulation and day 1 of your next period)
- Premenstrual symptoms such as breast tenderness, irritability, headaches, acne, or food cravings
- Unusual stress or illness
- Mood, emotions, affects: depression, mental fogginess, social isolation, stress, trauma, anger, guilt, and irritability
- Fatigue, sleep, sickness: severe fatigue and its relation to your period; fever and cold before period, and interrupted sleep cycles
- Diet, exercise, and weight changes
- Treatments: medications, hormonal medications, herbs, supplements, vitamins, alternative treatments like acupuncture.
This is a lot of information to track. But having all of this information will put you in the best possible position to understand your menstrual cycle patterns. Period apps make this easier, but they aren’t perfect. Track what you can with whatever method you prefer.
If this seems overwhelming or cumbersome, you won’t do it at all. If that’s how you feel at this point, then I suggest starting with the basics. The basics of period tracking are:
- Day 1 of your period (first day of bleeding)
- Cycle length (from one bleed to the next)
- Period length (the number of days of bleeding)
- Menstrual flow: light, moderate, or heavy bleeding?
- PMS symptoms
Track these period signs and symptoms for at least 3 cycles. It takes approximately 100 days for your ovarian follicles (sacs within your ovaries that contain the eggs) to mature from a dormant state all the way to ovulation. A healthy period starts with healthy follicles because as they develop, they produce hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. These hormones play an important role in ovulation, PMS symptoms and regulating your cycle length.
The unfortunate reality for many girls and women is that most do not understand the basics of a normal healthy menstrual cycle. In The Yoni Course I will be covering what a healthy menstrual cycle looks and feels like, the phases of your menstrual cycle including the organs & hormones that govern it, the lunar connection to your cycle, laboratory evaluation of hormones, and physical ovulation monitoring techniques using basal body temperature (BBT) and cervical mucus changes.
In the meantime, here are some excellent resources to get you started. In our next post, we will reveal a sneak preview of the content from Module 1 of The Yoni Course: What does a healthy and normal vagina and vulva look and feel like?
Written by Dr. Stefania ND – Naturopathic Doctor
- Mahakala Yoga Center for 8 Day Relax & Restore Yoga Retreats In Montenegro.
- Symptothermic (basal body temperature) monitoring charts.
- Book: Taking Charge of your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health.
- Period tracker App: there are many, but I recommend Clue.
- Phendo is an app that allows women with endometriosis to track their symptoms, treatments and self-management strategies.