Know thyself – tracking your menstrual cycle


Periods are a natural part of life; we know this; most of us will agree that it is helpful to have some semblance of control over them. Rather than having your period unexpectedly ruin a night out or get in the way of a beach trip, a tracker can tell you (almost) exactly when your period is going to come, which will allow you to plan your holidays, travels, and busy days around that time of the month.  Knowing and tracking your cycle allows you to be in tune with your body. 




It can take up to six months to build a picture of your normal.  During this time, it’s very likely that you’ll start to recognise patterns in how you feel, your energy levels and physical changes too and whether they are isolated or cyclical.


Tracking your cycle is also beneficial if you are starting new medications.  Most medications have either only been tested on men, or on some women, but usually those beyond reproductive age.   Your cycle can be different to your friends or a family member, but still, be normal


How do I track my cycle?

There are many different ways to track your cycle. There are a whole variety of apps such as Clue, Flo, Cycles, and even your activity tracker such as Garmin or Apple Health.  Alternatively, you may prefer to use a spreadsheet or paper-based diary.  There is no right or wrong way, just the way that works for you.  I have a menstrual cycle tracker here for you to download.




What is cycle tracking?

Cycle tracking is the daily practice of observing and recording your cycle and “fertile signs”, including the first day and duration of your period, the total length of your menstrual cycle and any menstrual symptoms.  A more advanced practice involves recording your daily basal body temperature (BBT) and cervical fluid changes, which enables you to pinpoint exactly where you are in your cycle at any given time.


BBT is your resting body temperature immediately upon waking (before you get out of bed, have a glass of water, etc), and can be measured using a thermometer with two decimal places.  I really got into to this element of cycle tracking during the Covid lockdowns.  I learnt lots about my body from this alone.


Following ovulation, your BBT spikes and stays higher than your pre-ovulatory temperatures for the remainder of the cycle.  This temperature spike is due to the warming (thermogenic) effect of the hormone progesterone, which is produced in the ovaries only after ovulation.  This means you can rely on a sustained spike in your BBT to confirm when ovulation has occurred.


Changes in cervical fluid signify when ovulation is approaching.  When ovulation is imminent, the cervical fluid becomes a translucent “egg white” consistency (which you may even be able to pick up and stretch between your fingers) and/or the sensation when wiping with toilet paper is very slippery or lubricative.  When ovulation has occurred, cervical fluid rapidly dries up, reverting to a pasty or sticky consistency or “dry” sensation.




How does this help you?

By tracking your cycle you’ll know when your period is coming, so you’ll not be caught by surprise.  You’ll become more in tune with your rhythm, the changes in our hormones mean there are changes in our energy levels and moods.  By noticing these subtle cues, you can take advantage of changing up your routine to accommodate self-care practices and even your diet and exercise routines. 

Around ovulation your energy is at an all-time high, that is the time to try for the PB, delivering that killer presentation and being super sociable – it’s just like summer.  Post ovulation and pre-period your energy levels dip just as the leaves lose their leaves in autumn, we retreat inwards.  It’s a great time to be introspective and the perfect time for anger work rather than just being snappy at your OH.


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Tracking your cycle allows you to be a better advocate for your own health.  I’m a huge fan of the work by Naturopathic doctor Lara Briden, she invites us to think of our periods as our “monthly report card”. In other words, your period is a monthly expression of your underlying health.  When your period arrives on time and symptom-free, you can feel confident that your health is on track and your current lifestyle is protective and restorative. 

When your period is accompanied by symptoms, or you notice abnormalities in your cycle over a few months, these period symptoms are an inbuilt warning signal that your underlying health requires further investigation and/or that your current lifestyle needs some attention. 


Why talk about your cycle in clinic?

Understanding your menstrual cycle can help you to understand to ebb and flow of your hormones and how they affect your body, mood and performance – it all provides great information about your health.  Having a regular menstrual cycle with is essential for you to have happy and harmonious hormones. 


Knowing your cycle helps you prepare for each phase of your cycle, manage your periods, and ultimately be your own BFF.


How can working together help me and my cycle?

Working together, I can help you understand how to restore the delicate balance of hormones, supporting you with a combination of nutritional advice, supplementation, and effective stress management tools & techniques. 


As we transition into peri-menopause, cycle tracking helps us identify longer cycles and anovulatory cycles, knowing and understanding what is happening with your body allows you to adapt and support your body, and when the time comes to talk to a health care professional about menopause, you’ll have empirical evidence to share with them so they can provide better support.


A bit about me & my background

Claire is a Health, Wellbeing and Rehabilitation Specialist at Restoring Balance; a sports scientist and Coach who is also a multi-disciplined therapist specialising in person-centred care.  Claire’s work is very different to many therapists – working with you as a whole person using a unique combination of mind, nutrition and movement to overcome both physical and emotional blocks; not just where you feel pain or have dysfunction, allowing you to live life again.  Claire can help you with:

I work both online and in person from my home-based clinic on Hayling Island, Hampshire.

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