The menstrual cycle is one of the most important — and frustrating — parts of being a woman. It brings the joy of motherhood alongside the pain of cramps and potential frustrations in the pregnancy process. And although we complain about (ahem, discuss) our periods often, not enough women have the information they need to make the smartest choices for their bodies.
For example, did you know the menstrual cycle takes an average of 28 days and consists of three phases: before, during, and after ovulation? Once the egg is released, it can survive up to 24 hours in the body and be fertilized by sperm. The actual period during which woman can become pregnant, however, lasts several days, because sperm can survive for that long in the female body.
Understanding your menstrual cycles makes it easier to reduce PMS, increase fertility, and recognize potential problems. By using the smart app NaturalCycles, which is as easy of taking the temperature first thing in the morning and entering it into the app, women can now track menstruation to receive specific insights and facts that help them understand their bodies and choices.
Below are 10 insights you can learn by tracking your cycle:
1. Recognize when you’re ovulating
Tracking your ovulation is tricky, and many ovulation tests are insufficient. Before ovulation, your body releases a hormone called luteinizing, which stimulates the ovaries to release an egg. Once the egg is released, another hormone called progesterone is released and warms the body. This rise in temperature is the sure sign that ovulation has occurred.
2. Know how to prep for PMS
Rather than taking out your mood swings on friends or shocking yourself with an unexpected sob, tracking your cycle saves you frustration and pain by allowing time to counteract those uncomfortable feelings. Pamper yourself with some extra “me time” at the right moment, and PMS might actually become something you look forward to.
3. Understand your luteal phase
The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle occurs after the egg is released but before your period starts. It usually lasts 13-14 days and is when the lining of your uterus becomes thicker to prepare for a possible pregnancy. However, a defect could cause the lining to not grow properly, making it tough to get pregnant. Tracking the length of the luteal phase is the first step toward identifying and fixing this potential problem.
4. Gain confidence in your fertility potential
5. Relate your cycle to your overall health
Highly irregular cycles is a sign that something in your body is out of whack, which could be the result of one or more unhealthy lifestyle factors. Take a look at your stress level, travel schedule, sleep habits, diet, and weight for opportunities to improve your health and cycle. Remember, it’s normal for a cycle to be irregular for up to six months after giving birth or quitting hormonal contraception.
6. Track the start of menopause
Women can go through a complete menstrual cycle without releasing an egg, which is referred to as an anovulatory cycle. The frequency of these cycles increases with age. Tracking how often you ovulate is invaluable when you’re planning (or not planning) for a baby.
7. Diagnose endometriosis early
Endometriosis is a painful disorder that occurs in the lining of the uterus. It causes irritation, inflammation, and even the formation of scar tissue. These symptoms are often worse before and during your period, so tracking these signs can help detect the disorder early on.
8. Diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal imbalance that impacts the development and release of eggs during ovulation. Women with PCOS often experience anovulatory cycles, and while the disorder can’t be prevented or cured, it can be managed through healthy lifestyle choices. Understanding how often an egg is released during your cycles is very valuable in diagnosing and handling PCOS.
9. Manage menstrual cramps
All women know the pain of menstrual cramps, but now you can anticipate and decrease their intensity. A track record of intense cramps and excessive bleeding might mean you need treatment such as extra progesterone to reduce the pain. Bring your data to the doctor to find the best treatment for you.
10. Track your pregnancy
Your body temperature is going to rise during the first trimester, which indicates sufficient progesterone levels — a necessary factor in the healthy development of a fetus. This information, paired with your exact dates of ovulation and conception, can help build confidence in the first stages of pregnancy.
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