This post is sponsored by the Natural Cycles app. This app fits my philosophy of honoring the wisdom of our menstrual cycles.
This content reflects my story and my opinions, particularly when it comes to avoiding hormonal contraception. The company Natural Cycles is not against hormonal birth control, but is an alternative choice to hormones.
I have a message for you, from your period.
The same force that moves the tide exists in you: you are programmed with the rhythms of nature. This force is not an obstacle to overcome, for it guides you to live in harmony with nature.
Your culture tends to dominate nature through synthetic chemicals. It’s an attempt to make nature conform with man’s design. But healing occurs when man conforms to nature’s design.
Hormonal contraceptives use synthetic ingredients to alter the rhythms of nature within your body. I ask you to work with my rhythms, rather than change my rhythms.
Imagine living your life fighting the ocean’s tide. As the tide pulls out, you try to paddle towards the shore. As the tide flows back in, you paddle towards the center of the ocean.
When you live in disharmony with me, you expend needless energy. When you surrender yourself over to my tides, your life feels effortless.
Perhaps, if your cycles have been painful or irregular, you want to distance yourself from me. But when you try to silence me, you silence the wisdom I have to offer you. So please, learn my language.
I want to share my wisdom with you. So will you ask me, “Period, what are you trying to tell me?”
How I Learned What My Cycle Was Trying To Tell Me
I first learned about cycle tracking from a book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It provided an explanation of how to monitor your temperature and cervical mucus to determine fertility. I began using the provided chart to track my highly irregular and painful cycles. After a month, I felt a shift that I can only describe as spiritual: I developed a new and healthy relationship with my cycle.
Previously, I believed my period condemned me to pain each month. Now, I felt a sense of reverence for my body’s wisdom.
My cycle here to tell me something! I realized. I delved into further research about how I could balance my cycles. This led me to write Quit PMS: Naturally End Your Menstrual Misery, which became an Amazon bestseller.
In the years since writing Quit PMS, my relationship with my cycle continued to deepen. Because I am in communication with my cycle, I understand and predict fluctuations in my emotions, energy levels, and libido.
Understanding my cycle also give me an approach to birth control that doesn’t require synthetic hormones. I hold the opinion that artificial hormones aren’t in synergy with the human body. However, you don’t have to agree with me to use Natural Cycles. Natural Cycles does believe that hormones have a place in birth control, but they do offer an alternative.
How To Track Your Cycles for Non-Hormonal Birth Control
Over the years, I’ve used various paper charts and apps for cycle tracking. Now, I use Natural Cycles. This app is by far the most streamlined, and is proven effective for birth control.
How to track your cycle for birth control and fertility using Natural Cycles
- Each morning, before getting out of bed, use the Natural Cycles thermometer to take your temperature. This basal thermometer more sensitive than a standard one.
- Input your temperature into the app. Within seconds, you’ll get notice if you are fertile that day, and should use protection to prevent pregnancy. On a green day, you are not fertile.
- The app may take a couple of months to get to know your cycles. Everyone if different, some may have irregular cycles, and other thing can impact as well. When the app knows you, you’ll be able to not only your fertile days, but also PMS and periods.
Tips for tracking your cycle with Natural Cycles
- The app works best if you are on a regular sleep schedule, and wake up at roughly the same time each day, +/- two hours. If you are sick or have a hangover, you just skip that day.
- Of course, the Natural Cycles method doesn’t prevent STDs.
- You have to be 18 years old to use the Natural Cycles app.
Benefits of Tracking Your Cycle
Non-hormonal birth control
A clinical study of over 4,000 women, published in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Healthcare collected data about the Natural Cycles app use:
The app’s failure rate for “typical use” (a term used to refer to how most people use a form of contraception) was 7%. Or, for every 100 women who used the app in a “typical” way (meaning certain common slip-ups are accounted for), seven got pregnant each year. In comparison, the “typical use” failure rate for the pill is about 9%, according to the CDC. […]
For “perfect use,” the app was also found to be fairly similar to the pill in terms of effectiveness – among those women who used the app perfectly, about five out of every 1,000 got pregnant (a 0.5% failure rate). Among women who use the pill perfectly, about 3 out of ever 1,000 get pregnant (a 0.3% failure rate).
For additional information on natural contraception, an non-toxic options to use on Red days, I recommend Mama Natural’s post on Natural Birth Control Methods.
For couples wishing to conceive, cycle tracking is essential. Using Natural Cycles for fertility is self-explanatory.
Honoring fluctuations in your energy
Knowing the phases of my cycles allows me to live aligned with its wisdom. As I’ve tracked my cycles, I’ve found repeated patterns of energy levels due to the natural rhythms of my hormones.
1. During menstruation, I feel highly introverted. Emotional and energetic sensitivity is frequently heightened, bringing to my attention the aspects in my life calling for examination.
In traditional societies, women menstruated together and left the tribe while bleeding. They had time away from typical tasks and responsibilities, to focus on the emotional and energetic release which accompanies menstruation. I think our modern culture should take a hint.
2. In the Follicular Phase (which lasts 7-10 days) I feel more energized and extroverted.
3. During ovulation (which lasts 3-4 days), like most women, I feel a peak in energy levels and libido.
4. The Luteal Phase lasts 10-14 days. Traditionally, this phase of menstruation aligns with the waxing (growing) moon. The uterus is still preparing itself for a fertilized egg. If the egg is not fertilized towards the end of the cycle, the uterine lining sheds.
At the end of this phase, I feel a decrease in physical strength/stamina and and an urge to draw my energy inwards. I consider it a time to prepare for the physical, emotional, and energetic release associated with the start of my period.
Understanding and predicting your cycle allows you to create a schedule that honors your body. For example, I know that during the Follicular/Ovulation phases, I will feel energized and balanced in my dance and yoga classes. I also plan for extra self-care time, including baths and a movie night, before my period starts.
Additionally, I never schedule meetings/appointments/social events the day before and day of my period. This may sound extreme in our culture, where women are expected to work at high energy levels all the time. But my priority is honoring my cycle, which makes me more productive and happy in the long run.
Resources for a Healthy Cycle
Natural Cycles app is available from the app store for download. It’s a monthly subscription, and a basal thermometer comes with your app purchase.
In addition to Natural Cycles, these resources will support you in developing a healthy relationship with your cycle:
A menstrual cup is the most eco-friendly option for your periods. It lasts for years, and saves I No leaks and clean sheets! See my recommended menstrual cup here.
My book Quit PMS outlines simple dietary and lifestyle changes you can implement to reduce painful PMS symptoms.
What is your experience tracking your cycles?