Five Things Sex-Ed Didn't Teach You - Get to Know Your Cycle
Hormones can be tricky business, but with more people becoming aware of the benefits of a natural lifestyle, understanding your cycle is easier than ever. Many physicians are more accepting of natural birth control options and there are plenty of tools, books, and even apps to help you along the way. Here are a few basics to get you started in understanding your cycle!
1. Everyone’s cycle is different. This sounds so cliché, but it’s true! Few women stick to a 28 day cycle with 3-5 days of moderate bleeding. While certain extremes can be a tip off that something is amiss, having longer periods, spotting between periods, or an irregular cycle all together is pretty common. You will get to know your cycle and what is “normal” for you!
2. Your cycle has a few different parts. You begin your cycle with menstruation or your “period”. After that you drift into the first half of your cycle called the follicular phase. This is when your estradiol levels are most prominent and the follicles in your ovaries begin to grow, prepping your body for conception, and ends with ovulation. The second half of your cycle is your luteal phase, which is when the lining of the uterus begins to thicken, preparing for the egg to implant. Progesterone is the prominent hormone in the luteal phase and this phase ideally lasts about 14 days. After that, menstruation marks the beginning of a brand new cycle and you start over again!
3. You basal body temperature can help you map your cycle. Basal body temperature (BBT) is your body’s base temperature which can be measured by taking your temperature first thing when you wake up before getting out of bed. This temperature will rise and fall with your changing hormones throughout your cycle, starting lower during your follicular phase, peaking during ovulation, and staying relatively high during your luteal phase. After a few months of tracking, you can begin to predict what days of your cycle you will ovulate and when you can expect menstruation to begin.
4. You are in control of your cycle (sort of). There are several changes you can make and steps you can take to create a healthier, more regular cycle. Maintaining a healthy body weight, eating a clean, whole foods-based diet, and reducing your exposure to hormone mimicking chemicals can all drastically improve your cycle. Other steps you can take are taking herbs and supplements, using essential oils, and visiting an acupuncturist or chiropractor who specializes in fertility or women’s health. While you can’t pick what day you will ovulate or choose to not have a period, you can help your body regulate your cycle and better manage the drastic changes in hormone levels.
5. Lastly, let’s debunk the myth that you don’t have to worry about prenatal health until you become pregnant. Totally false! If you think you will want to have children at some point down the road, it is a great idea to get in touch with your hormones now. Some natural health practitioners say it takes about a year to get your body into its most fertile state, so why not start now? Eating clean, partaking in moderate activity, and supplementing your lifestyle with natural vitamins and herbs are all easy things that not only make you healthier, but improve your fertility and prepare your body if you choose to welcome a little one into your life! It’s never too soon to start taking care of your reproductive health.
*Please note - some apps give you guidance simply by "counting days" of your cycle. The most reliable way to track your cycle is by using BBT. Ask your physician for guidance on the best natural birth control or fertility method for you!
Love + Light,