Learning Body Communication with Cycle Tracking
What can we learn about our body’s wellness just by paying attention to the body communication we were created with? Tracking your cycle just doesn’t help you know when your period is likely to come, but also helps you see imbalance in hormones and how your body reacts to your nourishment choices, daily activity and routines, or stress levels.
A healthy, balanced, cycle looks like:
- 28 days from the first day of your period to the day before the next period, +/- 2-3 days
- 2-4 Tblsp total of period blood flow over 3-7 days with very minimal to no clotting
- No spotting or bleeding between periods
- No more than slight discomfort and moderate decrease in energy during periods
- Fluctuations in desires and needs for rest and activity focus through cycle is healthy, but with no uncomfortable or debilitating mood changes or other PMS symptoms
Anything outside of this type of balanced cycle is a great reason to do a lifestyle assessment of routines, foods, supplements, body and household products, stress, sleep, digestion, and hydration to see if there are imbalanced choices that need changed and considering wellness care and/or labwork if there are imbalances that are not easily addressed.
We ovulate prior to experiencing our period, with only a week or so to get pregnant each cycle, so tracking signs of this fertile window can help us see if we’re ovulating, one of a woman’s best indications of whole-body health.
SHOW INDICATES HIGH FERTILITY
Just like in labor, the cervix will soften as ovulation gets closer. In pregnancy, and when not fertile, the cervix will be hard like the tip of your nose. As ovulation is closer, it will soften like the consistency of your earlobe.
Just like in labor, the cervix will move positions from pointing low and easy to reach, to pointing back, high, and hard to reach. When ovulation is near, the cervix moves up and towards your back. This creates a tiny bit more room in the vagina and makes intercourse more comfortable for you.
Just like in labor, your cervical opening (os) will open and close through your cycle. If you’ve never birthed before, the os will be round, and if you’ve birthed before the os will be oblong. As you get closer to ovulation, the cervix will be slightly open, close to ½-1 cm.
Wet Cervical Fluid
Cervical mucous is usually the easiest and most telling sign of fertility, and just like in labor, this will increase. Clear-ish, slimy, stretchy, slippery, egg-white like wet discharge is a sign of fertile cervical fluid and the more there is the closer to ovulation you likely are. Period blood is considered fertile as well. No discharge, or thick discharge, is not fertile.
BBT (Basal Body Temperature)
BBT only tells us if we have ovulated, as your core body temperature doesn’t rise until after the egg is released due to increased progesterone. You need a thermometer with at least 2 decimal places because BBT shifts are slight, and immediately upon waking after 3-4 hours of adequate sleep, and before getting up, take your temperature. Your BBT should stay low until the day after ovulation, and then it should stay high until the day before your next period (or remain high if you’re pregnant). This is less accurate with sleep disturbances, like breastfeeding. After having fertile cervical fluid that stops for at least 4 days after an elevated BBT shift, you are generally considered to be outside of your fertile window.
Charting all these patterns, especially your BBT, can help you see subtle shifts in fertility that indicate your fertile, and not-fertile, window. You can also start to connect the sensations in your body such as mood shifts, sleep patterns, or daily activity to how your fertile signs adjust and how they affect the length, or experience, of your cycle and period. Add a food journal along with this, and you have a thorough and robust way of monitoring your health. Once you’ve charted these patterns for 6-12 months rather consistently, you should have a good idea of how your body communicates wellness to you, as an optimal cycle, ovulation, and a regular period are all wonderful signs of body wellness. For more information on cycle tracking, read Tony Weschler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility.