Knowing Your Menstrual Cycle

The first time I went to understand my menstrual cycle was for the purpose of understanding my body more to help orgasm along. I was around 26 and for the first time in my life I was in a place where I wanted to explore my sexuality (maybe a bit of a late bloomer). So, one of the wonderful books I found was by Dr. Christiane Northrup called Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom! Amazing!! There is so much wisdom packed into this 800-page book.

After reading this book, for the first time I charted and actually paid attention to what was going on with my menstrual cycle. I learned to see what my cervical mucus was saying to me… dry = non-fertile, wet and stringy = ovulation, mucus non slippery = not fertile, and I became aware of the fact that at the end of my period I get horny! This comes every month just as surely as menstruation and ovulation come to me.

I soon discovered a fascinating book called Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts written by Regena Thomashaue (Mama Gena herself). This book was another step in honoring me, in bringing pleasure in my life and accepting my flow as a woman. It is not about the menstrual cycle, but about flowing with being woman, with our rights and our desires. I embraced this philosophy of learning to trust my desires and asking for what I needed, from myself and from others. As time passes, I find myself married, with two stepchildren and two miscarriages under my belt. And I find once more I want to reconnect with my menstrual cycle.

The Billings Ovulation Method

So, what to do? Well, I did chart many years ago to understand me more, and so I thought I’d do that again. This time I found a wonderful website www.woomb.org that breaks down the Billings Ovulation Method (on their website click on Billings Method to understand more). Now, I haven’t used this for conception specifically, but for getting more in tune with me! What I can say is their system:

A. Is downloadable for free! Their worksheet is easy to use and helpful in charting and getting to know your cycle.

B. Their whole website easily explains what happens physically during our menstrual cycle.

C. It’s wonderful not only to use for conception or to avoid conception, but it’s great to just re-connect with and understand your cycle.

It is with awareness that we realize our vulva is our sensing device, that which informs us of when we’re menstruating and when we’re ovulating. And it’s the awareness of the wetness against the vulva that brings us understanding. So, once again I’m enjoying the observations of the cervical mucus and growing the respect of my vulva! Sexy, don’t you think?

The Billings Method works off the cervical mucus, whereas when I worked from Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom worksheet I recorded temperature and mucus discharge. The temperature rises slightly when we ovulate and descends again after ovulation, unless we’re pregnant. And though I found recording the temperature helpful the first time, as I was first coming to observe my cervical mucus, it was also easy to forget to do first thing in the morning before I got out of bed, and as Christiane says it's not as accurate.

The Holistic Approach

Our menstrual cycles aren’t just about the release of the egg and the shedding of our uterine lining. There are so many things that go into what our cycle is like, just like there are many factors that affect our health. So, it’s important to look at it holistically and this is where I think Dr. Christiane Northrup does such a great job.

Sometimes when we’re having irregular menstrual cycles it’s about our diets, sometimes about our relationships, and sometimes it’s just asking us to give ourselves a break and letting go of some of the stress. Whatever we’re experiencing is for a reason, so it’s up to us to play detective if we don’t like what we’re experiencing and see what it is that needs our attention. But what makes it such an interesting thing is the reason isn’t always physical. So, we are not only looking into what foods are nourishing, but what people, habits and beliefs too!

Our menstrual cycle is here to help us and it's here as a tool of our expression. We have the option to be acquainted with ourselves and to open up to our bigger mysteries, or we can continue through life not really seeing. Whether you use one of these resources, or find another that pulls at you, I encourage you to get in touch with your menstrual cycle. There is power in just saying cervical mucus, much less understanding it, touching it, seeing it and knowing it. When we understand our own living organism, we understand that our whole experience is a living organism.

Menstrual Cycle to Menstruation.