Growing up, most of my friends knew the exact day – sometimes the exact hour – they were going to come on. Their periods were as predictable as the moon cycles, and as such holidays, dates or anything involving white jeans (it was the 90s!) could be planned for exactly the right time. Needless to say, these friends needed to know how to use a menstrual cycle chart.
My periods, on the other hand, were another story. From my very first bleed, arriving ceremoniously at swim club aged just 11, I have experienced periods from hell. Missed periods, heavy periods, prolonged periods, painful periods; I’ve lived them all.
After countless blood tests, ultrasounds and far too many doctors scratching their heads, I took it into my own hands and learnt how to use a menstrual cycle chart.
The History of recording periods
Women have been charting their cycle since the dawn of time. Metaformic Theory explores anthropological data and artifacts used in menstruation rituals recorded as far back as 400 years ago.
Alongside the red tents women would retire to each month to bleed together in love and support, ancient Goddess worshipping communities celebrated the symbology of menstruation as the source of all human creation. As such, menstrual cycles were recorded on cave walls, in artwork and even in ceremonial bone statues.
They may not have gotten around to observing libido or if their cervical mucus was milky or stringy, but in a time before computer or even paper, I love their dedication!
So, what is a Menstrual Cycle Chart?
If you suffer with period problems, you’ll likely have been asked by a practitioner if you chart your cycle. “yeah” you may reply “I totally know when my period is. It’s logged in my diary/app”.
But what is menstrual charting and are you charting your periods for properly? Let me tell you, there is SO much more you can record and learn about your monthly cycle than just the day you bleed.
In its simplest form a Menstrual chart is a visual chart used to track physical, emotional and energetic changes within your body through your menstrual cycle. The chart is numbered by days and includes space to record observations and hormone indicators. When completed daily over a period of a few months, you’ll be able to spot both common and disruptive patterns within your body.
Some menstrual charts, like my free Wild Samsara Menstrual Chart download also include the moon phases so you can track your cycle alongside the lunar cycle (more on this below!)
Why chart your cycle?
Contrary to common belief, charting your periods isn’t all about planning or preventing pregnancy. Sure, if you are looking for natural fertility methods, charting your cycle to check for ovulation is one of the first things a specialist would recommend.
But understanding the delicate ebb and flow of your hormonal cycle, and spotting when things might not quite be in balance, is not only priceless for understanding your periods but also your overall health.
Are your periods coming late every time you feel ovulation pains in your left ovary? Are you moister and sticky ‘down there’ only a few days after your bleed finishes? Do you fall in the depths of depression the exact same day each month?
We think we know our bodies, but when you learn how to use a menstrual chart and dedicate even 5 minutes a day to check in, you’ll be surprised the very common patterns you find.
Your menstrual cycle can indicate everything from dehydration, oestrogen dominance, sugar sensitivity and gluten intolerance to insomnia and the beginning of burn-out.
How to chart your periods
Charting your periods is super easy it literally takes just a few moments of time and a handy chart print out on your fridge!
I always recommend making a ritual of it and incorporating it with a nourishing self-womb massage, meditation or a journal practice. Either first thing in the morning, or just before bed, take time out to sit in a quiet space and listen to how your body feels.
Write the date and day of your cycle (day 1 being the first day of your bleed), and draw a circle if it’s a full moon, or a solid black circle for the new moon.
Now it’s time to listen to the whispers of your hormones! I personally like to freestyle with my charting but a few things I always like to note on my menstrual chart are:
- Energy levels – fatigued, buzzing, wired
- Bleed colour, texture, flow – dark, bright red,
- Texture of vaginal fluid – stringy, milky, smooth, dry
- Food reactions – Bloating, upset tummy, nausea. Any particular triggers?
- Sleep amount/quality – hard to fall asleep, easy to wake, fatigued on waking
- Mood/emotions – irritable, depressed, anxious
- Creativity and ideas – easy to flow, fuzzy head
- Libido – horny, unmotivated sexually, self conscious
- Introvert vs extrovert – focused inward or feeling expressive?
Charting your cycle when you don’t bleed
I often get asked by clients, how can you chart your cycle when you don’t bleed? Perhaps you’re missing a period and don’t know why, or maybe you are peri or post-menopausal.
The good news is, not only can you still chart your periods when you’re not bleeding, if you have no reason to experience amenorrhea (absent bleeds), regular recording of of menstrual cycle can actually create a regular cycle again!
This might sound crazy but it has worked for me and literally 100s of my clients time and time again!
The thing is, your menstrual cycle is WAY more than just your bleed. So even if you no longer experience them anymore, your reproductive organs still continue to gently flow through phases or high and low energy – largely influenced by your innate connection to the lunar cycle. So though you won’t be noting bleed days, or ovulation signs, you can still continue a daily practice of observing physical and emotional symptoms to predict, and even prevent, triggers throughout the month which make you feel like utter crap!
Free Menstrual Cycle Chart
Ready to chart your periods? I have created a free menstrual cycle chart download to get you started on your journey to discovering, and balancing, your hormone health. The chart includes this years New and Full Moon dates, information on whats happening hormonally with each phase and self care tips on looking after yourself as your body changes throughout the month.
You may notice my menstrual cycle chart is also subtly split into the four seasons – winter, spring, summer and autumn. This is based on the beautiful connection our bodies have with the changing energies of the seasons. Just like the plants and animals around us, we also experience highs and lows of abundance, energy and outward expression.
Exploring the seasons of the menstrual cycle deepens your understanding of how to honour each phase your body experiences.