Why You Need To Start Tracking Your Cycle ASAP
It begins on the first day you see blood. Day 1.
Whether you're just coming off of the pill, or starting to notice 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 4 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 your phases.
Knowing what phase you're in can help you plan your life more effectively, be less hard on yourself, break free from anxiety and depression, and help you become aware of your fertile window.
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.
Day 1, Cycle Begins Anew
Days 1-7 are typically spent menstruating and feeling more internal, though some report longer or shorter Menstrual phases. Typically, the first 2-4 days of the cycle are when we need deep rest and alone time to restore ourselves. Our bodies also need lots of extra care, with an emphasis on food sources of magnesium intake if you struggle with cramping, and 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. Tracking your cycle will help you understand what day of your cycle you start to feel the 'spring' energy lift, and plan for it!
Next, it's spring time! The Follicular phase tends to be between days 6 and 12. 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 steadily rise until they reach their peak in the Ovulation phase, AKA your most fertile phase. Be on the look out for this phase around day 14 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 (see why tracking is so vital!)
Most people are familiar with the Ovulatory phase. Though a fresh egg is released and subsequently dissolved within 1-2 days if not fertilized, a woman's fertile window can be around 7 days. 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 Daysy Fertility Tracker.
If you're interested in an introduction to The Fertility Awareness method, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a link to a free class taught by Hormonoscope.
Once the body realizes that its egg has not been fertilized, a few things happen. One being that the corpus luteum breaks down and releases progesterone. Rising progesterone levels signal that it's time to shed the uterine lining that has been building over the first half of the cycle. Fun fact: The uterine lining that's built up each month is considered an organ. So, yeah, you regrow and shed an organ every month. Just in case you didn't think your body was amazing yet ;)
The body then goes in to a preparation mode that seasonally mimics the time of fall aka the harvest. It's when we'll start to develop the nesting instinct to PREPARE ourselves for a comfortable and restful bleed. Between days 23 to 28 of the cycle is when women typically report symptoms of anxiety, depression, bloating or other mood and menstrual related issues. This is due to the major dip in all hormone levels right before bleeding begins. Our lifestyle and what we're putting into our body really impacts this, and we'll see the effect of any imbalance if it's there.
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. We hope you stick around Hormonoscope, because that's what we're all about!
Once you start to bleed, the Luteal phase, and the current cycle, end as your period begins. A new cycle begins.
Keeping track of how many days each cycle is for you is an important trend to track along with any symptoms throughout the month. This information will help you understand your fertility window, peek in to your hormonal health and understand how to inform your planning for the month ahead.
Read below for some YESES to consider in each phase, as well as what you may want to avoid.
The Role Of Intuition
By tapping in to your intuition and understanding cycle tracking, you can begin to understand where you or your partner may be in their cycle.
Here are some guideposts to get you started:
Menstrual | Winter
Though 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, being self-focused, alone time, dreaming, journaling, trusting yourself, being 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, beginnings, planting seeds, planning for the month ahead, 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
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. In this phase, your fertile mucus will decline, 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
There you have it, a tiny little bite size chunk about the four phases and their seasonal sisters. Cycle tracking is key when it comes to getting aware of what's going on with your body and leaning in to it. 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)
To elevate your cycle, lean in to your phases and learn alongside a supportive community, sign up for the Horoscope for your Hormones! For $7 per month, you'll receive 4 curated content pieces by text such as: educational tips, recipes, lifestyle content and more, each correlated to a different phase.
And make sure you've joined the group community on Mighty Networks. It's a great place to ask questions if you're not already a subscriber.