Irregular periods? Pre-period symptoms lasting ages? How to know what's wrong, speed up progress and natural treatment options
You know your periods aren't normal, yet you don't know what to do. Maybe they don't come on time? Or your PMS seems excessive? Maybe you get symptoms for half a month?! Or maybe you get serious amounts of pain and it really affects your world. You've ignored/put off dealing with your periods but now they are impacting your life and it's time to do something. The question is what???
Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine has been helping regulate periods (and improve fertility) for thousands of years. You can see research on Acupuncture & herbs regulating periods especially for PCOS here, improvements to cycles and fertility here as well as here and here for period pain info. It's pretty awesome! But this isn't a blog about how Acupuncture & herbs may be able to help you... This is about figuring out whats wrong exactly, how to fix it and how to track what's working.
Want an easy way to work out whats wrong, track progress and speed up your road to recovery???
The answer my friends - is Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Charting
It's just taking your temps each morning and putting them in a chart. This amazingly simple technique can help you work out so many things!
BBT charting can tell you:
- Where is the (possibly hormonal) issue that's causing your symptoms? 1st half of your cycle? Around ovulation? In the 2nd half of your cycle? All of the above?
- Is your cycle regular each month? Is your period the same each month? This will tell you if your stress or lifestyle that month has contributed to your periods. (I can barely remember what I ate for dinner last night, let alone what happened a month ago.) Track it, ladies!
- When are you ovulating?? Ideally, you want to ovulate 12-16 days from day 1 of your period and 11-15 days before your next period. Most women don't ovulate on day 14 exactly.
- Know when you're fertile each month. Your fertile days are: up to 5 days before ovulation, the day of and 1 day after. This is because the egg dies after 24h. For only those 7 days each month (hopefully same time each month!) contraception or trying to conceive is really important.
You're only fertile for max 7 days!! (This is why I love women to know there's an alternative to the pill that doesn't involve drugs for the other 21 infertile days.)
- Are you temps too high or not high enough? Ideally, they should be about 36.5'C in the first half and around 36.7'C in the second half of your cycle. Too higher temps may indicate an infection or thyroid issue. Lower temps throughout the cycle may also indicate issues with your thyroid. Low temps just in the second half may indicate low progesterone which can be linked with low mood, headaches, feeling cold, tired and with infertility.
- Are your symptoms actually around ovulation or before your period? If you don't know when you're ovulating, how can you know if they are linked? Again most women don't ovulate on day 14 exactly. So if you get headaches in the middle of the month but it's not close to ovulation then it probably doesn't have a hormonal cause.
- KNOW WHEN YOUR PERIOD IS COMING. Important info. Especially if you have PCOS.
- Plan your month, work with your cycles and your natural flow. Take it easy when you have your period. Your body is doing extra maintenance work. "Pushing through" only leaves you more depleted and out of whack next month. Then enjoy the confidence and energy that ovulation hormones give you! Get lots done the week after and slow down and keep warm before your period (we get grumpy when we can't do that).
Work with, not against your cycles for more ease and flow and of course fewer symptoms.
*** BBT charting is more accurate than pee sticks for working out ovulation.
Period tracking apps (that don't measure your temps) just presume you ovulate 14 days before your period and calculate your fertile window around that. This is rarely the case and can change each month so please don't rely on regular period apps for contraception! Also, make sure you're protected against STD's.
If you're very confident about interpreting your BBT charts, you can use it as a form of contraception as you'll know after a few months when you're fertile and when you're not. However, if this is your only form of contraception, I recommend using a certified effective (but more expensive) BBT chart thermometer with a computer to interpret for you - brands such as Daisy, Lady-Comp or Natural Cycles which is 99% effective when used properly (more effective than condoms or the pill) and FDA approved.
Here's how to do it
- Buy an ovulation thermometer from the chemist. Less than $20, and more accurate than normal thermometers. If you're wanting it for contraception get a certified brand above. More expensive but worth it!
- Download a BBT charting app. Despite its name, the Fertility Friend App (free) is my favourite for tracking your cycles. Regardless of wanting a baby or not, it's easy to use and very accurate
- Before you get out of bed, at a similar time each day, put the thermometer in your mouth under your tongue. Wait til it beeps, record your temp in your app - Done!
Here's what a fairly normal cycle looks like:
- Track your period with light, medium, heavy or spotting options
- You can see the jump in temperatures at ovulation and that they stay up for more than 4 days
- The time between ovulation and next period (Luteal phase) is 15 days so not too short
'What gets measured, gets improved...'
If you need assistance ASAP, don't think you need months of info before seeking help. You can just use the BBT charting to track the progress as you go.
See the links at the top of the blog for more info on Acupuncture & herbs.
With just a thermometer, an app and 20 seconds of your time each morning, you can track your cycles and work out where/what the problem is. BBT charting is a simple easy and accurate way to collect your own personal database of info to show your health practitioner, completely fast-tracking the treatment strategy as they have your info - not a textbook's.
And you monitor the progress as you go along to make sure it's working!
*Please note I have no affiliation with any of the apps or brands mentioned, just sharing what I & my clients love