3 Reasons to Start Tracking Your Menstrual Cycle
posted on October 6, 2020 | by Megan Lierley
Before I began working at a period care company three years ago, I’d given little thought to my own monthly cycle beyond a surge of frustration and annoyance the moment my cramps began. I was seemingly always out of tampons, stuffing toilet paper in my underwear as I ran to CVS, only to come home and resent the lethargy that resigned me to my couch for the first few days of bleeding.
Fast forward to today, and I’m one of the weirdos who actually kind of looks forward to my period. In my experience, removing the unpredictability from the experience was the first step toward appreciation. From there, I’ve even found ways to optimize my work and life around my menstrual cycle—and that’s all thanks to tracking it. Here, three reasons why I encourage all the women in my life to do the same.
1. No more leaky surprises
As I mentioned before, I spent the majority of my menstruating life frantically searching my bathroom cabinet for a lone, loose tampon the second I began spotting. Once I started tracking my period, while the app was usually off by a day or two (my cycle length varies by a few days each month), I still generally knew when it would start and could plan accordingly. Keeping a period toolkit handy always, but especially in the week leading up to my period, eliminated that feeling of dread when my period started—being organized and prepared, thanks to tracking, was the start of my mindset shift.
2. The menstrual cycle isn’t just your period
Before I began tracking and understanding my cycle, I split my month into two categories: non-bleeding and bleeding. Once I began to research and understand the four phases of the menstrual cycle, I realized that there is nuance to each one, and once you understand what that looks like in your mind and body, you can begin to plan around it. I know that sounds pretty woo woo, but it’s rooted in biology.
For example, estrogen is rising during ovulation—which can make some menstruators feel really emotional, while others experience an increase in energy. For me, I feel super energized when I ovulate, and my confidence and sex drive increase. Pre-COVID when you could, you know, actually plan for things, I might try to schedule a date night or dinner party within this quick period of the month. I also learned the reverse is true in the days leading up to my period—hormones plummet during PMS, and for many women, myself included, this leads to fatigue and an increased desire to be alone. Looking at my period tracker and seeing I was due to start my period on a Monday, for example, I would be less inclined to host a group or schedule a jam-packed weekend in the days prior.
3. Your own personal cycle data can create a good barometer for your feelings
You know those days—when you wake up in the morning and just burst into tears/pick a fight with your partner/snooze your alarm clock 10 times? We all have them, but they can feel super disconcerting when they seemingly come out of nowhere. Most period tracker apps have a feature where you can record your emotions either via emoji or a brief text box. There’s something very comforting about having a horrible day and then going back 30 days in your own data and seeing, ah, you had a horrible day then too…and then your period started the next day. And the same goes for positive feelings, too! If you find you are really feelin’ yourself during those ovulation or pre-ovulation days, plan ahead and schedule a first date, group dinner, or important meeting for that same timeframe the following month.
And a bonus—I’ve been tracking my period for years now, and as my fiance and I begin to think about starting a family, I’m so grateful I started tracking early. I already have a baseline understanding of my cycle, which has made it much easier and more intuitive to begin tracking ovulation. If you’re just getting started and not planning for babies anytime soon, my favorite is the Clue app. If pregnancy is on your mind (even if not immediately), I’ve been using Natural Cycles and really liking it. Happy tracking!
Do you currently track your cycle? If so, which app(s) do you love? If not, are you interested in trying? We’d love to hear in the comments!