Sadly, I have some bad memories relating to how my menstrual health has been treated by doctors and medical practitioners. For years, I had a gynaecologist who knew that my cycle was irregular but his only solution was to prescribe the contraceptive pill, rather than look at my stress levels and recommend a certain diet, or exercises, first. Even though it took a few years, this experience was a huge lesson in taking autonomy over my own body.
The last straw was when I was suffering from depression and anxiety and tried to contact my gynaecologist from abroad, to ask for help over email or phone. I never received a reply. That was the moment when I decided to take charge of my own health and be proactive and find a doctor who would help me. I eventually found one but still rely on observing my body, tracking symptoms and menstrual cycle data, and doing my own research on ways to improve my health and wellbeing.
Tracking my menstrual cycle and health symptoms helped me understand that what I go through each month is entirely normal. I am still figuring out my cycle, as I started tracking only 6 months ago but it has allowed me to relax into who I am, how my body works, and how it reacts to external factors. For someone who is very critical of herself, it feels like a burden has been lifted off me!
My energy levels vary throughout the month. I no longer try and be my most productive, hardworking self at all times. I can do that in the week leading up to ovulation and just afterwards and I know it will feel great. But now that I have noticed patterns, I can give myself a permission to have a break or do certain activities that will help me.
I see a lot of women suffering from an “I can do everything” syndrome that relates to many things including health, energy, career, friends, relationships etc. It may sound strange, but tracking my cycle helped me understand that a cyclical changes in one´s physical and mental health is totally okay. In fact, the longer I track my cycle, the more excited I am about working WITH my body, not against it. So for me the benefit was very much mental and eased up a lot of my anxiety about what it means to be a woman.