After the birth of my son, I experienced a lot of “hormone fueled” physical and emotional “yuck.”
Due to complications with my birth, I received many rounds of antibiotics which basically destroyed my gut health for six months, leading to lots of physical problems. During that time, I began to do research on the interconnectedness of the food we eat and our hormones. It was fascinating. I decided to begin to seriously track my cycle and keep a record of physical and emotional changes/sensations related to my fertility to try and look for some patterns. This yielded a lot of really good information for me and I was slowly able to heal my body and get it into the best physical shape it has ever been in over time.
But there were also some surprising benefits to tracking my menstrual/fertility cycle that I hadn’t anticipated.
A Sense of Self-control and Power
As patterns began to emerge, I was able to see the different ways that normal hormone dips and crests affected my moods, emotions, and behavioral patterns. I was able to anticipate those things ahead of time, which helped so much to make the “out of control” baby in the house phase of life a little more anticipated and calm. I didn’t feel so at the whim of my feelings as my son grew older, because I was witnessing and understanding my emotions on a physical level. Sadness didn’t feel so deep at certain points in my cycle, because I knew from tracking that I was going to feel better in a couple of days when my body began to deliver some hormones that would lift and help me. The sense of power and freedom in this has been significant as I have worked to cope with and make it through postpartum anxiety. I have learned to trust my body and the food I eat to take care of me.
Improvement in my Marriage and Other Relationships
As I began to understand and appreciate my body’s natural rhythm, I was better able to harness those cloudy emotional days and keep them from doing damage to my relationships. I learned that there are days, due to biophysical shifts in my body, where problems with the people I love feel so completely overwhelming that despair is an easy choice. Lashing out is a natural bi-product of the all-out hormonal storm raging inside of me on these days. This portion of my cycle and these feelings should be respected, and not blown off as “PMS/chick stuff.”
Because the things I am upset about may in fact be a big deal, and they are better dealt with when I am not fighting strong emotions brought on by my body’s natural ebbs and flows. Once we know that this strong emotional event is a bio-physical development which will pass and allow us to move on to clearer thinking shortly, we are able to say "No" to destructive relationship patterns during these rough times. This has made a dramatic improvement in the way I manage my heart in my relationships.
Better Self Image
Watching my body go through these rythyms has a been a fascinating experience. I respected my fertility before I began tracking my cycles, but now I have a much deeper appreciation for the gift of being a woman. I have been able to watch how my creativity is impacted during different parts of my cycle. It has forced me to slow down and “watch” myself in many ways. The result has been a surprising appreciation for the hard work I do, and the strength I have to do it. I have been able to appreciate the weeks where I feel very productive and happy, and am able to harness those times to do lots of good work. I used to resent the days that I felt sluggish and out of sorts and chastise myself for laziness, but I don’t anymore. I understand now that those days are completely normal and necessary and am more gentle with my heart. I remind myself that stronger days are just around the bend. It has been good for me to learn to be gentle with myself, and it would not have come about without this journey.
At the risk of sounding over enthusiastic, this simple thing has improved my life in every way. In addition to all of these benefits, we have also been able to successfully space our children using these techniques. If you are interested in tracking your cycle for fertility and family planning or just for the reasons enumerated above, you could start here, but there are many different types of cycle tracking available today. There are also quite a few apps available for smartphones. I love the Glow app and have been using it for three years. It helps me to track physical and emotional things as well as my actual cycle. It notifies me when I am likely to be ovulating and so I use it in combination with another method to watch for physical signs of ovulation, which you learn about when you study the different methods. See if it feels right to you to begin to study and harness this amazing phenomenon that’s occurring every day in your life.Lauren resides in Oklahoma with her husband and two children. She is a birth advocate and an aspiring writer. In her spare time, she loves to work out, drink copious amounts of coffee, and spend time perusing old and new bookstores