5 Reasons You Should Care About Your Menstrual Cycle (Even if You’re Not Trying to Get Pregnant)
A lot of people don’t think about their menstrual cycle unless they are dealing with painful periods or PMS, or trying to get pregnant. But it’s important to care about your menstrual cycle and understand your hormones for plenty of other reasons. Read below to find out why caring about your cycle is a good idea, even if you aren’t trying to get pregnant.
1. It Tells You About Overall Health
The menstrual cycle has been named the fifth vital sign of health by the American Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (after heart rate, breathing rate, pulse, and temperature). This means you menstrual cycle is just as important as breathing! It has also been shown that the health of your cycle and regular ovulation has an important relationship with aspects of health, like bone health, breast health, and heart health. Plus, plenty of other systems in your body.
2. Now That You Are Paying Attention, Is It Healthy?
So what does a healthy cycle look like? There are a lot of myths out there (including that pain is normal – it’s not).
Here’s what a healthy cycle looks like:
- Length: 26 to 35 days (avg. 28): variability each time is normal
- Period: 3 to 7 days (avg. 5): not too heavy and not so painful that you need drugs
- Cervical mucus: 3 to 7 days (avg. 4): at least one day of clear, stretchy, slippery mucus
- Ovulation: 10 to 16 days before your next period (avg. 13): this should be about the same for each cycle
Now you can evaluate if your hormones are healthy, and if anything is out of balance you can start to address your health and make improvements by working with a holistic care provider. One example of this is understanding what’s normal for cervical mucus, and what are the signs of an infection or something potentially more sinister.
3. Know When You Can And Can’t Get Pregnant Each Cycle
Lots of people start paying attention to their fertility when they are trying to have a baby, but as above, it’s important at every stage of life to have healthy ovulation.
In fact, there are only about six days each cycle where pregnancy is possible. If you learn to track your cervical mucus (this is what you see when you wipe or in your underwear and shows up before ovulation to keep sperm alive about five days) or your basal body temperature (this shows after you have ovulated because your temperature will go up and stay up) then you can know exactly when pregnancy is a possibility. This is great if you are trying to conceive, and can also be used as a natural method of birth control (up to 99% effective). Look into learning a Fertility Awareness-Based Method for more information on tracking.
4. Better Navigate The Changes That Come With Age
For anyone over 35 reading this, did you know your cycles may already be starting to change as you approach menopause? You might think 35 sounds early, but the average age of your last period is 50 and it can potentially be 10 years of changes before they stop (this phase of change is called perimenopause).
If you are familiar with your cycle and what is normal for you, then when you start to see changes you can better navigate this phase of life and not feel in the dark or be caught by surprise. Often people’s experience of their cycle will change before things like hot flashes (think heavier periods, more PMS, shortening cycles). If you are paying attention, you can start to take steps to improve your health and make the transition easier on yourself.
5. Body Literacy and Empowerment
All of this adds up to knowing your body, understanding what your hormones are doing, and feeling more in control with what’s going on. Your body doesn’t have to be a mystery that only specialist doctors understand – you can know what is going on for yourself and take steps to make changes if anything is out of balance.
Some practical ideas? Know when your period is due and plan around that. Enter perimenopause with knowledge. Improve or eliminate cramps and PMS. Be armed with information when you need to talk to your doctor or health care provider.
Knowledge is power and it’s well within your ability to understand and take charge of your health and hormones.
Do you have a story you would like to share on Talkative? Send us a submission! And if you haven’t already, make sure you signup for a free TAMVOES account so you can get started on tracking all of your vitals to stay up to date with your health as it changes. Learn more on the TAMVOES platform.