3 Reasons Why You Need to Track Your Menstrual Cycle
Updated: Jun 1
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Many women are not aware of their monthly cycles besides the awareness of when their period is. Many women don’t even know when or if their periods will come! Many more women are on hormonal birth control, so their body is not completing the natural monthly cycle of hormones.
For cycling women, it is EMPOWERING to learn about the natural cycles of hormones!
A bit about Menstrual cycles
When I say menstrual cycle, I'm referring to the entire month's fluctuations of hormones, not just the one week of menstruation. Women's bodies cycle through hormones over the course of about 28-35 days to prepare the body for pregnancy.
Every human produces hormones! Stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline), growth hormones, sleep hormones (melatonin), insulin is a hormone, love and connection hormones (oxytocin), and sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone). These are just a few examples of some of the widely known and understood hormones, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg! Women’s sex hormones influence so much more than just our menstrual cycle and fertility. They influence our energy, creativity, libido, and metabolism.
The two main sex hormones in women that create the monthly menstrual cycle are estrogen and progesterone. There are others that fluctuate in women throughout our cycles, but estrogen and progesterone are the most impactful, and the ones to focus on.
Our monthly periods are a measure of our overall health!
I look at my period as a report card. Did I spot? Did I have PMS? Did I have bad cramps? Is my period regular? All of these things tell me about my overall health, specifically if my sex hormones are balanced. See my post here on 6 ways to balance hormones.
Knowing this information, you can see why it's so good to track your cycle every month!
Here are 3 more reasons, why you should track your cycle!
Not sure how to track your menstrual cycle? See my post here on how to track it!
1. Natural birth control
Tracking your menstrual cycle can allow you to prevent pregnancy! Hormonal birth control is not your only option!
I personally am not a fan of hormonal birth control. It’s often prescribed for women to help with menstrual cramps or acne, or PCOS when in reality, women need to be focused on balancing their hormones. Birth control just acts as a Band-Aid in these situations, and does not address the root cause! Oftentimes, this exaggerates the issue as hormonal birth control depletes the body of minerals over time and disrupts the body's natural function!
Hormonal birth control might be a good option for many women, but I also think that most women are not aware of all their options.
The term most people use for natural birth control is the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM), not to be confused with the rhythm method, which is ineffective as it assumes ovulation on day 14.
Here’s a great resource on FAM! I would 100% this book if you’re seriously considering switching to FAM. There’s a learning curve when it comes to FAM, so make sure you know what you’re doing before you start, and when in doubt, use a barrier method of birth control.
The basics of FAM are understanding that you’re only fertile/able to get pregnant 3-5 days during your cycle. The rest of that time, you’re not fertile and not able to conceive, so have all the unprotected sex you want!
Please note: Obviously, FAM does not protect from STIs. Only a barrier method (condoms) protect from STIs.
To use the FAM method, you first need to understand your cycle and be tracking it. See my article here on tracking your cycle. All you need to do this are a basal thermometer and something to track your cycle on. I use an app, but a piece of paper works just fine! This thermometer is an affordable price, AND pairs with an app! Speaking from experience, having a thermometer that automatically pairs with the app is SO much better!
There are lots of nuances to this, so again, do plenty of research before using FAM! I cannot recommend Taking Charge of Fertility enough! Make sure you are 100% confident in your understanding of FAM before having unprotected sex!
If you begin trying to use FAM, but find that your temperatures are everywhere, you're unsure if you’re ovulating, or you’re spotting a lot, your sex hormones likely need some attention. See my article here on how to balance your hormones.
2. Pregnancy achievement
Just like you can use FAM to prevent pregnancy, you can also use it to achieve pregnancy! Understanding and tracking your cycle allows you to know exactly when you are fertile.
Tracking your cycle also cues you into if your hormones are healthy and balanced or not. If you’re struggling with your period or ovulation, your hormones likely need support. See my post here on how to balance your hormones.
3. Work with your monthly cycle
Our monthly cycle impacts us a lot! Our mood, our energy levels, our metabolism, our creativity, and so much more! Knowing which phase you're in will benefit you greatly! Know when to push yourself and when to let up and rest.
The Follicular Phase:
This is the phase immediately after your period ends until ovulation, usually about 2 weeks. Be checking your temperature to be sure. This has been called the "Beyonce phase" of the menstrual cycle! Estrogen is high as your body is getting ready to produce an egg. Energy and creativity are high during this phase. This is a great time to start something new. Take on a new project, and stretch yourself at work or creatively. This is a great time to get in hard workouts, cardio, HIT, or heavier weight training. You can also cut back on calories at this time. Still, make sure you’re getting plenty of nourishing foods, but you can confidently cut about 200 calories a day if you’re comfortable with it. Enjoy all the raw foods you want during this time as you’re less likely to bloat.
Yep. This is my favorite phase too.
You thought the follicular phase was good. Just wait until ovulation! Ovulation is usually just one day, but it’s essentially an extension of the follicular phase. You’ll feel great and be at the height of your game. Expect your libido to be high during this time too, as your body’s goal is to get pregnant.
The Luteal Phase:
The luteal phase is after ovulation until your period, usually about 2 weeks. Again, be checking your temperature, and watch for a temperature spike to be sure you’ve ovulated and are in the luteal phase. Your energy will fall a bit during this time. Creativity and excitement may also decrease. This is a time to focus on admin work or maintenance. Organize during this time and complete tasks. Let up on any cardio or HIIT workouts you’re doing in the gym and do some light strength training, yoga, Pilates, and take plenty of walks. Continue eating plenty of nourishing foods during this time, focusing on getting magnesium from nuts, legumes, and fish, and/or taking magnesium baths. Let up some on the raw foods, as you’re more likely to bloat during this time. Your body will actually be burning 200-300 more calories a day during this period, so if you’re hungry, eat, getting plenty of carbs and protein. Eat plenty of nourishing root veggies! Don’t try to make huge caloric cuts during this time. Take it a bit slower and be gentle with your body.
Menstruation, like ovulation, feels like just a more intense extension of the previous phase, but this time, it’s an extension of the luteal phase. This is a time for rest and reflection. Take it easy and listen to your body. Gentle yoga and walks are the best kinds of exercise. Eat plenty of nourishing foods of all kinds, continuing to focus on magnesium. If you’re having a lot of pain during this phase, know that you can help heal your hormones to reduce the pain. See my post here on how to do that.
I hope this article was helpful to you. Tracking the menstrual cycle is SO enlightening and empowering! Do you track your menstrual cycle? What have learned or experienced in doing so? Let me know in the comments!