A few days ago I found myself sitting with the nurse at my local doctor’s surgery, preparing to be reintroduced to my old friend the speculum. Like many of these kinds of appointments, I was being asked question after question regarding my body. Am I on the pill? Do I smoke? Have I ever been pregnant? Is there any chance that I’m pregnant now? When was my last period? How long is my average cycle? Can I list all of the noble gasses in the periodic table?
That sort of thing.
Fortunately, my reason for visiting was nothing serious and I just wanted to get some intermenstrual bleeding checked out. Like any wise human with a vagina, I know how important it is to make sure that everything’s working well down there. I also have no shame talking about it, hence writing this blog post for the whole world to see. But whilst I was sitting there having 101 questions thrown my way, I realized how grateful I was to have an accurate log of my menstrual cycles. It was nice to actually know how to answer these questions without hesitation and/or serious mental maths. It just made the whole process a lot less anxiety-inducing.
Thinking about the fact that not everybody is tracking their menstrual cycles scares me. Thinking about the fact that until a year ago I didn’t take it at all seriously scares me even more! I didn’t have any idea what my body was up to. I just kind of waited until I got cramps and then thought “well, better pack pads today”. It could’ve been three weeks or it could’ve been six for all I knew: it was all a case of guess work.
As I’ve said before, 2016 was the year that I really got in touch with my body. Not only did I start using a menstrual cup which forces you to be pretty hands on, but I started learning about my cycle and what effected it. I discovered what happens to my body when I’m stressed or tired or not giving it all of the loveliness that it deserves. It was a magical experience and I’ve never felt more liberated within myself than I do right now.
I personally think that everybody who has a period should be tracking when they start and stop bleeding each month as a bare minimum. It doesn’t matter whether you do that in your daily planner or in an app like Clue (my method of choice), as long as it’s giving you some awareness of what is your body’s “normal”. Because if you don’t know what your “normal” is, then you don’t know when to be concerned about something. Our bodies are constantly changing and shifting to suit our situations, but it’s important to know when you should get something checked out just to be on the safe side.
On top of that, there’s so much more that you can track to help you out every month. I know exactly when I need to have my tea tree oil at the ready to battle PMS based spots. I know when I’m most likely to get a UTI. I know when to avoid human interaction because I will likely scream. It’s pretty bloody brilliant.
I can’t believe that I never recognized the glory of it before, to be honest. There I was, laying on the examination table with my pants off in front of a glove wearing stranger and it hit me. And now two days and 600 words later I’m looking at this post and realizing that it has become an ode to the act of period tracking. I’m totally fine with that.