Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle

I’m delighted to introduce guest blogger Gabriela Rosa, who is a leading natural fertility expert and teaches women to understand their menstrual cycle. I know that one of the biggest issues we women have is understanding our natural bodies as natural and normal, because we are encouraged to medicate our normal cycles and processes. So many of my clients and other women I’ve spoken with over the years struggle with understanding the menstrual cycle, and this creates a massive disconnection; one of the consequences of that is fertility problems.

(You might also be interested in Alexandra Pope’s information, on Kindle)

Gabriela’s teachings in this area have helped hundreds of women understand their bodies and their natural cycles. She has also helped hundreds of couples conceive naturally – she’s known as The Baby Bringer 🙂 This is the first in a series of articles, I hope you’ll find them useful and interesting!

Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle

How to determine your most fertile time

It astounds me when I see how many women are completely out of touch with their bodies.  I suppose this could be a result of conditioning (from what girls were taught about puberty, sexuality and womanhood at a young age), or from the pure distraction of a very hectic or disorderly lifestyle.  Regardless of the reasons, women could gain a significant amount of control over their health, fertility and reproductive planning simply by getting in touch with their natural menstrual cycle.

A Menstrual Cycle Calendar

By keeping a calendar handy (or even better a sympto-thermal or fertility/ovulation chart), and marking days of menstruation each month, a woman can easily keep track of her menstrual cycle, which in turn will help her keep track of ovulation.  This can be very helpful for determining fertile days, thus making conception easier to achieve; or contraception easier to manage. Bear in mind that regardless of whether you’re looking to get pregnant or prevent pregnancy, your fertility journey (and treatment) and/or birth control (once you’ve had your babies) will be much more successful if they are customized to your individual needs and when you understand your menstrual cycle.

Let me emphasize that every woman is an individual. Textbooks generally state that every 28 days menstruation occurs, and that ovulation occurs on or around the 14th day of a woman’s monthly cycle.

This does not apply to every person.

While there may be people who are on the textbook 28 day schedule like clockwork, there are still many whose monthly rhythms are tuned to a different drum!  Some women menstruate every 30 or 35 days like clockwork, because this is what is normal for them. What tends to vary is the number of days that lapse between menstruation and the next expected ovulation; however, it is generally accepted that, for most women, menstruation does generally occur approximately 14 days after ovulation has finally taken place (unless in cases of luteal phase defects which can dramatically impair fertility in women—see the advice of a competent and qualified naturopath to address this, if it’s a problem for you).

While this counting and record keeping is important and helpful, used alone it is not foolproof.  The most important aspect of determining your fertile days and keeping up with your cycle is paying attention to your bodily functions, particularly changes, especially those in vaginal secretions. You must understand your natural unique menstrual cycle.

Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle

That said, let us take a look at different physical and psychological aspects of  (note that whilst changes are expected and most women can experience unpleasant symptoms before and during menstruation—symptoms are a sign of imbalance, which should be addressed and not simply thought of as normal just because most women experience them! This is much easier to track when you understand your menstrual cycle):

First Week: Menstruation

Bleeding ceases, generally followed by a surge in energy levels. If unpleasant symptoms are experienced, generally they subside when menstruation starts eg moods, sleep habits and eating habits become normal once more (if this is happening for you, seek the assistance of a competent and qualified naturopath). Vaginal dryness may be present, or mucous will be scant.

 

Second Week: As the time of ovulation nears, vaginal mucous may increase, will often become thinner, may appear white or clear.  When ovulation occurs, which may be approximately around the 14th day, the vagina may frequently be “wet,” as the mucus becomes thinner.  Sexual arousal and romantic feelings may be heightened, and you may experience breast tenderness, bloating, cramps or moodiness.

 

Third Week: Moodiness may or may not subside.  Vaginal wetness decreases, as this is the post-ovulation phase.  Mucus may thicken or decrease.

 

Fourth Week: Some women experience pre-menstrual symptoms, which may include moodiness, bloating, headaches, cramps, fatigue or lethargy, appetite increase or decrease, sex drive may decrease or increase, sleep disturbances or others. If this is happening for you be sure to seek professional advice because it may be a sign of hormonal imbalances, which can decrease your chances of a healthy conception.

Be mindful when examining vaginal secretions that the mucus becomes thinner during ovulation so the sperm can swim to the egg easily.  This is why paying attention to your fluids is crucial in determining your most fertile days as it is your fertile mucus (egg-white like aka spin or spinnbarkeit), which precedes and heralds the approach of ovulation.

If you’re serious about charting your fertility, it may be useful to mark the days on which you show symptoms of ovulation as well as the days of your period to help you with conception timing. This will allow you to see more accurately how many days typically lapse between menstruation and ovulation and is key in understanding your menstrual cycle.

Understanding a woman’s own unmistakable signs of fertility is one of the tools I teach each and every one of my patients during my Natural Fertility Solution Program, because this is the one skill that gives you most control over both your fertility and your conception attempts. It also enables me to clearly understand (when things do not go to plan) where I need to focus my efforts as a practitioner to ensure my patients get the very results they are after—their very own happy and healthy baby.

And it all begins with understanding your menstrual cycle.

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