fbpx
Integrative Family Health Clinic in Bolton and the Greater Caledon Area
4-22 Simona Drive
Bolton, ON

5 Reasons You Should Be Tracking Your Menstrual Cycle

Are you a 3-weeker or a 4-weeker? Tracking your menstrual cycle can yield a lot of benefits, not just for your laundry and vacation schedules, but also for your hormone health, fertility, and overall health. Read on to find out 5 reasons why you should be tracking your menstrual cycle, and how to do it. 

A “Normal” Cycle

Although the average length of a menstrual cycle is 28 days, a menstrual cycle can be from 23 to 35 days and still be considered normal. The regularity of your cycle is more important than the length of your cycle because it indicates that your hormones are cycling properly. There are a few hormones that influence the regularity of your cycle:

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)

This hormone, released by a gland in the brain, stimulates the development of follicles in the ovary, which become eggs that can become fertilized every cycle.

Luteinizing hormone (LH)

Like FSH, LH is made in the brain and has roles in ovulation and regulating cycle length. 

Estrogen

A hormone that is made throughout the body and has a variety of actions. In people who menstruate, it’s dominant during the first half of their cycle.

Progesterone

A hormone made throughout the body and is dominant during the second half of the menstrual cycle.

Your cycle length may vary because of individual factors, but your cycle regularity can be impacted by factors like stress and other conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, thyroid conditions, or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). 

Why You Should Be Tracking Your Cycle

1. Helps to monitor your fertility

One of the primary reasons to track your cycle is to better understand your fertile window for family planning. Tracking the start and end to your cycle, along with cycle milestones like cervical mucous, can help you determine when—and when not to—time intercourse for your family planning goals.

2. Helps to monitor changes in your hormones 

Cycle regularity is determined by the interplay between the four major hormones: FSH, LH, estrogen, and progesterone. However, other hormones, such as thyroid hormone, can impact your menstrual cycle as well. Tracking your cycle can give clues to the changes in these hormones and how they interact with each other.

3. Understand how stress affects your cycle

Have you ever noticed a late period during a stressful time? Cortisol, your stress hormone, can also affect your cycle length and regularity. Track your cycle to better predict how stress can affect you. Moreover, you can track your cycle to understand if stress management techniques, like acupuncture, meditation, or other treatments, make an impact on your hormone health.

4. Understand how body fat affects your cycle

Body fat can impact your hormone production and how hormones interact with your reproductive organs. Too little body fat, as in the case of people struggling with eating disorders or extreme workout routines, can cause irregular menstrual cycles. In addition, people who have body mass indexes (BMI) of more than 30 kg/m2 can be predisposed to conditions like diabetes mellitus or PCOS, which can impact cycle length and regularity. Tracking your cycle can help you understand how body fat changes can affect your hormone health.

5. Helps your doctor monitor your other medical conditions

A primary care doctor or OB/GYN specialist typically asks about your cycle length and regularity during your visits. If your healthcare provider is working up a hormonal issue, such as menopause or infertility, they typically will ask for a blood draw on day 3 or day 21 of your cycle. 

Knowing your cycle can help your doctor diagnose hormonal conditions and monitor other conditions. As mentioned previously, conditions such as thyroid disorders, PCOS, and diabetes can often impact your menstrual cycle. 

Expert Cycle Tracking Tips From Dr. Salwan, ND

Tracking your cycle can be as simple as a paper calendar or it can be logged in a mobile app. Here are tips from naturopathic doctor Dr. Salwan:

    • Track when your cycle starts: Your cycle starts on the day you notice spotting or bleeding for your period.
    • Track when your period phase ends: Note the last day of your period to calculate your period length.
    • Track when your cycle ends: Your cycle ends the day before your period starts again.
    • You can track your cervical mucous, discharge you notice, cramps you experience, and other symptoms like mood changes, bloating, acne, or breast tenderness as well. 
    • There are many mobile apps that you can log your cycle details in addition to other symptoms you may experience throughout your cycle. 
    • If you’re concerned about your digital privacy on mobile apps, you can always use a physical diary, journal, or calendar to track your cycle.

Talking to a healthcare professional like your naturopathic doctor can help you decode your health through your cycle tracking.

How Naturopathic Doctors Support Your Hormones

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are like your hormone BFFs. Whether it’s for wonky periods, thyroid troubles, or feeling like you’ve been hit by a hormone hurricane during menopause, naturopathic doctors have your back. 

NDs help you navigate the rollercoaster of health by creating personalized treatment plans that incorporate nutrition, stress management, herbal supplements, and acupuncture to rebalance hormonal fluctuations. Through comprehensive assessments, naturopathic doctors seek to address the root causes of hormonal imbalances and promote sustainable health improvements.

If you’re ready to kick those hormone woes to the curb and reclaim your groove, grab your green smoothie and let’s dive into how naturopathic doctors work their magic on your hormones.

Common Conditions Affected by Hormones

When hormones are balanced, life just feels right. You’re in sync with your body, radiating vitality, and ready to take on whatever comes your way! On the other hand, when they are off, you wake up feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck, you are breaking out like a teenager again, and your mood swings are giving you emotional whiplash. 

We use the analogy of trying to navigate a stormy sea without a compass. But fear not, there’s always a way to find balance and ride out the hormonal waves!

Common conditions influenced by hormones include:

    • Thyroid disorders

    • PCOS

    • Menopause

    • Adrenal fatigue

    • Infertility

    • Insulin resistance 

The Naturopathic Medicine Approach to Hormones

Naturopathic medicine is a form of alternative medicine that focuses on using natural remedies and holistic approaches to promote healing and wellness. Licensed naturopathic doctors (NDs) emphasize the body’s inherent ability to heal itself and strive to identify and address the root causes of illness.

It is key to note that naturopathic doctors often work in collaboration with other healthcare providers to provide integrative care for their patients.

Herbal medicine

Naturopaths employ herbal medicine (plant based extracts) to restore hormone balance, utilizing plants with properties to support the endocrine system. Herbs like black cohosh, chaste berry, and dong quai are known for easing menopausal symptoms and regulating menstrual cycles. Adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha and rhodiola help manage stress, while maca root may enhance fertility.

Herbs may seem safer, but it’s important to know that not all herbs are suitable for every individual. Naturopathic doctors tailor herbal remedies to individual needs for effective hormone balancing at your life stage. They also consider your whole health history, allergies, sensitivities, and other medications in order to maximize the benefit of your treatment.

Acupuncture

This isn’t your typical joint-pain-type acupuncture. Naturopathic doctors are trained in the Traditional Asian Medicine (also known as Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM) style of acupuncture.

Acupuncture is a key tool used by naturopathic doctors for hormone balancing, which involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and promote healing. In the context of hormonal balance, acupuncture is believed to influence the endocrine system, which regulates hormone production and cycling.

Targeted Nutrition

Do you need more healthy fats? Or more proteins? Maybe both!

Naturopathic doctors can use targeted nutrition to help you reach your goals faster but also sustainably. After a thorough assessment, your ND customizes dietary recommendations to support hormone balance and overall metabolism. This approach significantly influences hormone production, metabolism, and function within the body. Eating right for your body addresses the root causes of health issues and is paramount to maintaining hormonal freedom.

How Long Does Naturopathic Medicine Take?

The duration of naturopathic treatment varies depending on individual health concerns, baseline health status, and the body’s response to therapies. Typically, patients can expect to see improvements in their health over time, with some experiencing relief from symptoms within weeks, while others may require several months of consistent care to achieve optimal results.

For hormonal support, patients can expect a comprehensive assessment of their hormone levels, lifestyle factors, and overall health. Naturopathic doctors may recommend dietary adjustments, herbal supplements, stress management techniques, and other natural therapies tailored to rebalance hormones and alleviate symptoms such as irregular periods, fatigue, mood swings, and hot flashes. Treatment plans are individualized to address each patient’s unique needs and may require ongoing monitoring and adjustments to achieve long-term hormone balance and wellness.

Get started with Dr. Salwan, ND or one of our NDs at Wildflower Health and Wellness today.