I’ve had the great pleasure of having my period since the age of 11, and like many women, I never knew much about the nitty-gritty process of the menstrual cycle. I knew that for about 4-7 days out of the month I was going to bleed, become extra sensitive, and want certain foods more than I wanted the new Michael Kors watch I have been eyeing… and then repeat it all again next month. That is, until I read the book The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried, and wanted to know everything I possibly could about a woman’s body and the rollercoaster of hormones we go through.

There is much to be said about the menstrual cycle, and in reality, it is different for every woman. However, it is important for every woman to at least understand the basics of her cycle. This includes knowing the 3 different phases of the cycle (yes, some science will be included here), and tracking her cycle.

WARNING: Below you will find scientific words that help explain a woman’s period…it is only 3 sentences long so I hope you can stay awake to read it 😉

There are 3 general phases of the menstrual cycle known as the menstrual (early follicular), follicular, and luteal phase. These phases are regulated by blood levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones. More commonly the phases are associated with days in a woman’s cycle, usually lasting 28 days, although they can vary greatly from woman to woman. Menstrual phase, indicated as day 1 of the cycle and lasting up to day 5, is determined by both estrogen and progesterone being low, follicular phase, days 6-20, when estrogen is increased and progesterone is low, and the luteal phase, days 21-28, when both estrogen and progesterone are high.

It is not only important to know how long your cycles last, but how long you are in each of the phases as well. Believe it or not, these fluctuating hormone levels affect practically every avenue of a woman’s life.

Tracking your menstrual cycle can be as simple as keeping a small notepad to write down the day you start and the day you end your cycle, as well as the length of the cycle. Or you can take it all the way to tracking body temperature, weight, mood, sleep, workouts, cravings, etc.

I started with keeping a “note” on my iPhone but was annoyed when I deleted an email account and that note, along with many others, went away as well. Since I have started using the WomanLog app to track my cycle and have thoroughly enjoyed it (and have been comforted knowing its contents are backed up to my email address).

You can decide the detail and method of your tracking, just start tracking. Period.

a.wise approach ~ know your body, it’s the only place you will live for the rest of your life.