When I think back to middle school health class, I feel a bit jipped.
I mean, the one class that was supposed to teach me about my body didn’t really accomplish that. Instead, it taught me about “safe sex” and… well, that’s about it.
It wasn’t until much later in life that I uncovered the untold truths of the female body, and let me tell you, there was a lot to learn. After bouncing around from birth control pill to birth control pill for the entirety of my teenage years, I was surprised to learn about what the pill was actually doing to my body and mind. I could write an entire post about that (and I will), but suffice it to say, I knew I needed to stop taking it.
Fast forward to now – I teach women how to recognize and keep track of their bodies’ signals so they can be informed participants in their own health. It’s a shame that women aren’t being taught about the beauty and intelligence of their own bodies, and it’s a personal mission of mine to spread awareness of our natural cycles.
If you’re unfamiliar with cycle charting, it’s essentially recording the different types of cervical mucus you experience throughout the month, along with other biomarkers. There are various methods and tools to help you do so, but I myself am a certified teacher for FEMM, Fertility Education and Medical Management, so I’m partial to the FEMM method!
You may think charting your cycle sounds like a lot of unnecessary work, and I used to feel that way, too. But now that I’ve experienced the benefits of charting first-hand, I’m never going back! Here are my top five reasons why.
1. BECOME MORE AWARE OF YOUR BODY’S SIGNALS
Our bodies are constantly communicating with us, but we’re not always listening.
Charting your menstrual cycle is a great way to become attuned to its many signs and signals. While you might think charting is just about keeping track of your period, it actually offers opportunities to start paying attention to all of the ways your body talks to you.
This new level of full-body awareness provides insights not only about hormone function, but also about stress, hunger and fullness, energy levels, and more. Charting encourages you to recognize your body’s needs so that you’re able to effectively respond to them.
2. MONITOR AND DETERMINE OVERALL HEALTH
The health of your hormones can’t be separated from the overall health of your body. Reproductive health is inextricably connected to the body’s general functioning. In fact, 12 different hormones need to reach adequate levels in order for you to experience a healthy ovulatory cycle. And whether or not those hormones are working right depends on other systems at play in your body.
In other words, you can tell a lot about your general health by observing your cycle.
Charting involves learning to recognize biomarkers that indicate the activity of certain hormones. By keeping track of your cervical mucus patterns, physical symptoms, and lifestyle changes, you’ll be able to better monitor your health and address any problems that arise much sooner.
3. MAKE SENSE OF PATTERNS
Do you have trouble sleeping every once in a while? Do you sometimes get bloated and gassy? Do you get bad acne breakouts some weeks and have clear skin during others?
Oftentimes, we experience symptoms related to our hormone function throughout our monthly cycles. When you start charting, patterns tend to emerge from these symptoms, and it becomes clear that they’re related to your cycle.
This information can connect symptoms to certain points in your cycle, and it helps your doctor give better advice about a course of action or treatment plan. Rather than treating symptoms and offering band-aid solutions, they’ll be able to address root causes with the help of your charting data.
4. CATCH FERTILITY ISSUES EARLY
About 12-13% of couples struggle with infertility, and most cases of infertility are caused by problems with ovulation, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Even if you’re not currently trying to conceive and you don’t plan to in the near future, the earlier you know about potential fertility complications, the better.
As I mentioned before, in order for healthy ovulation to take place, a dozen different hormones need to reach sufficient levels. That leaves a lot of room for error, and if you’re not ovulating, there are a variety of possible explanations.
Learning to chart makes it easy to tell when your patterns deviate from the norm. Starting to chart now will give you more time to address complications, so if and when you decide to have children in the future, you’ll be less likely to run into difficult infertility surprises.
5. GAIN A NEW APPRECIATION FOR YOUR BODY
In a world in which appreciating our bodies isn’t all that easy, charting gives you a new perspective. As you learn about and start paying attention to the spectacular processes your body does automatically, it’ll be hard not to look at your body with a sense of awe and gratitude.
Learning to chart encouraged me to take better care of my body because I now have a better understanding of the consequences when I overwork it, stress it out, or underfeed it.
These are just a few of the awesome gifts cycle-charting can bring into your life. Charting is one of the best ways to strengthen your relationship with your body and to start living a more intentional, holistically healthy life.
Share this post so more women can learn about what should’ve been taught in health class all those years ago. 😉