How To Start Tracking Your Cycle ASAP!
Your cycle begins on the first day you see blood. That's day 1.
Whether you're just coming off of the pill, looking at your fertility, or desiring to start to noticing patterns in your mood, mindset, and energy levels each month; tracking your menstrual cycle is a foundational step when it comes to understanding your cycle and being in tune with it.
First things first.
When it comes to the female hormonal cycle, also known as the infradian rhythm, there are FOUR distinct phases characterized by differing hormone levels. It's important to understand what day of your cycle you are on, because this correlates directly to what phase you're in.
Fun fact: Female hormones are actually much more predictable than male's. Female hormones do basically the same thing every month. A man's level of testosterone changes at any moment literally based on if he watched a sporting event, saw an attractive woman, or got exposed to a weapon. #TheMoreYouKnow
So why track your cycle?
Knowing what phase you're in can assist you with:
Planning your life more effectively
Being less hard on yourself
Breaking free from anxiety and depression
Making you aware of your fertile window
Preparing for the hormonal shift known as Perimenopause, and more.
When learning about the phases, keep in mind that they flow in to each other with no hard lines about when & where. However, we can safely make a conclusion about which phase we might be in when we combine cycle tracking with intuition.
Below, an average cycle laid out:
Day 1, Cycle Begins Anew
Days 1-7 are typically spent menstruating and feeling more internal. Even if we aren't still bleeding, the "Menstrual energy" can continue for an entire week, and this is due to what our hormones are doing. Typically, the first 2-4 days of the cycle are when we need deep rest and alone time to restore ourselves. Our bodies need extra care, with an emphasis on food sources of magnesium (especially if you struggle with cramping), and micronutrients like iron, zinc, etc. to make up for lost blood. As menstruation comes to a close, estrogen and testosterone levels begin to rise, bringing us in to the Follicular phase.
Next, it's spring time! The Follicular phase tends to be between days 7 and 13. Over that time period, you'll likely feel your energy levels beginning to rise along with your outlook on the world becoming more open. Estrogen levels are steadily rising until they reach their peak in the Ovulation Phase.
Ovulation is your most fertile phase. Be on the look out for this phase on days 14-20 of your cycle, although it's important to learn more about your fertility signs because you can be fertile up to 5 days before ovulation actually occurs (making tracking incredibly vital) A woman's fertile window can be around 7 days, but shortens with age. If you're looking to conceive it's important to track your cycle so you may understand when your ovulation typically occurs. This can inform future fertility awareness, along with helping you recognize when your cycle is thrown out of whack. If you're looking to track fertility ASAP and not confident enough in doing it alone, check out an option like the Tempdrop Armband. It comes with a free app that you use to see your shift in Basal Body Temperature (the ONLY way to confirm ovulation 100%)
Once your egg is released, the "sheath" it was carried in called the corpus luteum breaks down and creates the hormone progesterone.
Fun fact: Ovulating is the only way your body creates progesterone. Without ovulation, we're left without this super vital hormone. One of the big reasons why long term hormonal birth control use is a #PeriodProblem.
The body then goes in to a preparation mode, a "wait and see" if pregnancy has occured. This time of the cycle is called the Luteal Phase, and it occurs between days 21 and 28 (or however long your cycle lasts) Women typically report the highest rate of symptoms of anxiety, depression, bloating or other mood and menstrual related issues in this phase. This is due to the major dip in hormone levels right before bleeding begins. Our lifestyle and what we're putting into our body really impacts how this transition goes, and we'll see the effect of any imbalance.
Once the body confirms pregnancy hasn't occurred, it will prepare and release the uterine lining. Once you start to bleed, the Luteal phase, and the current cycle, end as your period begins. A new cycle begins.
Fun fact: This is how the withdrawal bleed week of your pill pack works. You take sugar pills, and the absence of the artificial hormones makes your body behave as if it was getting a period!
If you're having extreme PMS around this time of the month, that is not your burden to bear forever. There are ways you can support your body to regulate your hormonal cycle and experience easier cycles each month. Hormonoscope exists as a way to support you as you go through these monthly highs and lows!
The Hormonoscope is a weekly text subscription that helps you remember what phase of your cycle you're in, and learn as you go. Attached to a private group support space, you can troubleshoot your cyclical tracking journey alongside other women. Additionally, we're all about the eats! In our group space, we share cycle meal planning and other valuable hormonal health resources #ForTheGirls.
Tracking your cycle will help you understand yourself
It will remove the monotony of life, and put it into a cyclical context
This information will help you understand your fertility window, and understand your hormonal health in REAL time.
Join The Hormonoscope for weekly cyclical insights and support, at a cost lower than one take-out meal.
Exciting stuff, isn't it? We know how great it can feel to finally decode the language your body has been speaking in.... Read below for some of our YESES to consider in each phase, as well as what you may want to avoid.
Here are some of the insights you'd receive in Your Hormonoscope.
Menstrual | Winter
This phase is the most obvious being characterized by bleeding. It's important to remember to honor your body and recognize that you're 'hibernating' during this time.
Rest, dark chocolate, alone time, dreaming, journaling, trusting yourself, slow, gentle movement.
Avoid over committing, a busy social calendar or "pushing through"
Follicular | Spring
This phase is beginning when you notice a rise in energy levels, and everything feels fresh and new! Your body begins to prepare once again to host an egg.
Catching up on anything missed while bleeding, focus, planting seeds, cardio
Avoid slow, empathic conversations, inactivity, delegation
Ovulation | Summer
This phase can feel effortless, it's as if you can be your highest expression of self easily. Take note of how you feel when your estrogen levels are peaking! This is the most stereotypical "good feeling" phase and you may flit from activity to activity seamlessly. Though it's fully possible to feel good in each phase, ovulation correlates to summer within the body and that energy is fully channeled.
Relating to others on a deeper level, networking and social outings, longer days
Avoid making decisions that require logical thinking, committing to anything impulsively. Chill, summer woman.
Luteal | Fall
The Luteal phase has a first and second half, it's undeniable. Once the luteal phase begins, you could feel a slight decrease in energy. Similarly to how we feel about fall in Upstate, NY - excited with a hint of dread knowing what's to come. We want to hang on to summer as long as we can; however, living in tune with the cycle empowers us to accept ourselves in each phase, knowing that this too, shall pass. This is known as a drier phase, so don't be shy about lubrication and letting your partner know that you need some time to work up to that 'juicy' sex drive you enjoyed last week.
Energetic, creative thinking, finishing up projects, higher caloric intake
Avoid scheduling new commitments for the weeks ahead, trying to 'fix' yourself, OPO (other people's opinions), social media
We hope you enjoyed this peek at what Hormonoscope is all about. Everything we shared has a concrete WHY behind it, and we'd love to teach you more about it in our membership!
If you're still not convinced that being a woman is freaking awesome, just remember that everything in life has its season, and as cycling women/people with ovaries, we experience a new season each month just like the moon. It's really a beautiful thing, and Hormonoscope's mission is spread the word about its sacredness. You being here goes a long way in making that happen, so thank you. :-)
If you're currently on the pill or don't menstruate, yet still have a desire to tune into a more cyclical way of life, you can follow the above cyclical approach to these moon phases:
New Moon – Phase 1: Menstruation Phase (Winter)
Waxing Moon – Phase 2: Follicular Phase (Spring)
Full Moon – Phase 3: Ovulatory Phase (Summer)
Waning Moon – Phase 4: Luteal Phase (Autumn/Fall)