My mom is pretty old school. She tends to own cars exclusively with crank windows and manual locks, and she still insists we refer to elders and family as Mrs. Lewis or Aunt Mary.
So in 6th grade when I experienced my period for the first time, my mom stood with her hand on her hip waving her finger, saying, “Make sure you track your cycles on your health calendar!” Naturally, I disregarded her antiquated advice. Fast forward 15 years to when cycle-tracking apps have started trending, I now, like with so many other topics, have realized my mom was right.
Here are three things I’ve learned from using an app to track my monthly cycle.
I Know When, and How, My Hormones Will Strike
Thanks to keeping track of my cycle, I have identified that two days before my period, even the tiniest infractions make me irritable and make me lose my cool. So when my roommate leaves the garage door open for what seems like the hundredth time, I know instead of blowing up at her, I should just take a walk and take a breath, because each month at the same time, things set me off a lot easier.
Similarly, I’ve found about one week after my period, my sex-drive greatly increases. Funny how each month around the same time, I want to get back on the dating apps or text an ex-boyfriend.
Funny how each month around the same time, I want to get back on the dating apps or text an ex-boyfriend.
Having the knowledge that when we’re ovulating, our sex-drive hormone, or libido, increases, and knowing exactly when that happens for me, has been invaluable in helping decide if I’ll settle for texting an ex I know wasn’t “the one,” or instead choose to indulge in a watching a chick-flick.
I Uncovered Underlying Health Issues
My health education in suburban Minnesota was anything but current or extensive, and I have a feeling I’m not alone in that experience. I, like many, thought painful periods full of cramps were normal and that the birth control pill was the only way to treat unwanted acne.
I thought painful periods full of cramps were normal and that the birth control pill was the only way to treat unwanted acne.
Thanks to the health organization and app I now use called FEMM, I’ve learned extremely painful cramping is not only abnormal, but such cramps can possibly indicate a greater health issue, like endometriosis, for example. I’ve also learned acne is an indicator that something’s not right, not merely a symptom of humanity. In fact, acne often points to a hormonal imbalance that can be corrected naturally with a change in diet along with natural supplements, instead of applying a temporary band-aid that can cause other side effects, and doesn’t address the root issue.
I Can Avoid or Achieve Pregnancy
My favorite part of learning about my body and my cycle has been that my body tells me everything I need to know, and I just need to listen. The week or so after my period when I notice my libido increasing, actually tells me my body is working, and it's a good sign that I’m ovulating. This means it’s the time of the month when I’m most fertile and most likely to become pregnant. This is incredible knowledge to have when I get to the point of making decisions about trying to achieve or avoid pregnancy. I can do this naturally by listening to my body and its signs, instead of using artificial hormones to cover these signs up.
My body tells me everything I need to know, and I just need to listen.
When I’m ready to make those decisions, I can also work with my doctor to address any of the health issues that have shown themselves throughout my many months of data I’ve entered in my tracking app.
Before I started tracking my monthly cycle, I felt like a victim to my body and its hormones. Now I feel more in control of my emotions and the decisions I make because of them, and I owe it greatly to tracking my cycle every month and learning the natural signs my body communicates to me every day.