If you are a woman between the ages of 12 and 40 something…every time you go to the doctor you are asked, “When was the first day of your last period?”
Every. Single. Time.
A period or your “monthly visitor” is just one part of a cycle, your menstrual cycle. That means that at each point in this cycle something is happening whether you realize it or not.
First, what is a menstrual cycle?
The menstrual cycle is more than your period. It is a cycle. It has a start and an end and it repeats. You’ll notice that a lot goes on during the 28-ish days it takes to complete one revolution around your own personal ovarian moon. There are all sorts of changes happening in your body, making each segment of this month very different.
What can your cycle tell you?
A lot. Maybe when you were a young girl you saw a video or got a “talk” telling you about when you would “become a woman.” I don’t know about you, but the talk was pretty basic and the big take away was that your period let you know that you were able to have children. True, but it can tell you so much more. Monitoring your cycle (not just your period) can tell when you are fertile and when you are not- the specific day you are ovulating. You might be able to tell if you are low on progesterone or other hormones. Tracking your menstrual cycles may let you know if your body is under an immense amount of stress, indicate if you have cysts, and even let you know if you have cancer. So much more than you learned in that video huh?
Paying attention to pain around the time of your period, the color, the heaviness, and even the frequency can tell you a lot about your overall health. Do you get bad PMS? Did you know that making changes in your diet or taking progesterone on a specific day can help? This depends on how severe your symptoms are. The symptoms can point you to something bigger.
How can you learn more?
Basically, pay attention. Now that can sound really easy and it is easy, but you might need a little bit of guidance. You might think, “I know my body, I don’t need guidance.” Yes, I thought the same thing, but if you do a little research or better yet talk to a Natural Family Planning (NFP) practitioner, you might be surprised. I have friends who are nurses that learned things by taking an NFP class. These practitioners are a great resource for information. You do not need to be sexually active to learn about your cycle. I personally learned the Creighton Method, which is one of the many approaches to NFP. This gave me a lot of insight so when I went to my OBGYN I could have a real conversation. I could tell her much more than the “first day of my last period.” I could ask “why” things were happening and suggest different causes of actions.
When it comes to your health, being proactive is the best defense you have to stay healthy. Knowing more about your body gives you insight your doctors can not personally have. Even if you are not dealing with a medical issue, being aware of what your body is telling you, is an empowering thing you can do for yourself as a woman. If you’d like additional information or want to connect with an NFP practitioner, call us. We can help direct you.