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Benefits of using a period tracker

Benefits of using a period tracker

Do you know how long your menstrual cycle is? When your period shows up every month, is it a surprise or do you know it’s coming? When you go to the doctor and they ask for the first date of your last period, are you prepared or do you give them a blank stare? Have you ever been on vacation and been completely caught off guard by Aunt Flo?

Pixie Cup period tracker

Tracking your period can help in all of these situations! Whether you use an app, write everything down on a paper period tracker, or do something completely unique and creative in a bullet journal, keeping track of different symptoms throughout the month can provide you with a wealth of information about your body. Not only will you know when to expect your period, you’ll also know when you’re about to ovulate and be able to identify any unusual symptoms that could indicate a health problem. And, arming yourself with all of this in-depth information about your own body will ultimately make you more comfortable with your cycle and help you feel more in control around “that time of the month.”

So how do you track your cycle? Let’s dive in!

What is a period tracker?

A period tracker is a tool for tracking various symptoms related to your menstrual cycle. Depending on your individual needs, this could include keeping track of information such as:

  • Your period start and end dates
  • Your basal body temperature
  • Your flow volume
  • PMS symptoms such as cramps or bloating
  • Your mood
  • Irregularities or any areas of concern

Why should you track your period?

There are countless reasons to track your period! At a very basic level, it can help you understand essential information about your menstrual cycle, such as how long your cycle typically lasts. One of the most common reasons to track your period is so that you can predict when your period will start. No more wearing pantiliners for days “just in case” or wondering if it’s okay to plan that weekend camping trip!

Knowing what’s normal for your body will allow you to monitor your health more closely. If you notice any unusual symptoms emerge, you can share these with your doctor. A change in your menstrual cycle is often the first symptom of a health problem — even those that may not seem related to the reproductive system, such as a thyroid issue or diabetes.

Other benefits of tracking your cycle:

  • Plan important events around your period. You probably don’t want to worry about your period if you have an important event coming up, like a beach vacation or a wedding! Getting intimate with your cycle allows you to plan ahead.
  • Know when you’re ovulating. You can use this information to your advantage whether your goal is to conceive or avoid conception!
  • Plan around serious symptoms. Are you prone to anxiety, menstrual migraines, or severe cramps? You can look ahead and plan accordingly. Don’t make plans to go to a party if you know you’re going to want to binge watch your favorite show with a pint of ice cream!
  • Know right away if your period is later than expected.

How do you track your menstrual cycle?

The symptoms you choose to track are totally up to you! You can keep track of just the length of your cycle, or you can track everything on the list — even add your own information! Our downloadable period tracker includes spaces to track your flow, basal body temperature, cervical fluid, common PMS symptoms, and mood, along with blank lines so you can add any additional information you want to keep track of.

Let’s take a closer look at how to track and use some of this information.

Your flow

This one is fairly self explanatory: keep track of when your period starts and how long it lasts. The first day of your period is Day One of your cycle, so start a new sheet on that day. Fill in the appropriate box for each day of your cycle according to how heavy your flow is. You may even want to use different colors to make it easy to spot changes over time.

If you like, you can include additional data such as blood color or flow volume.

Basal body temperature

What is basal body temperature (BBT)? Your BBT is the lowest body temperature reached during rest. As you sleep, your body temperature drops slightly. The average BBT range is between 97.0 and 97.7 during the first part of your cycle, and it increases slightly after ovulation.

If you’re interested in keeping track of when you ovulate, your basal body temperature can tell you! Start taking your temperature first thing every morning when you wake up, before you get out of bed. You can use a regular digital thermometer, or if you want to get super exact, use a basal body temperature thermometer specially designed for tracking ovulation.

Hormones released during ovulation make your BBT increase slightly. Midway through your cycle (typically around day 14), you should notice a sudden spike in your BBT. This means you have ovulated! If you’re trying to conceive, now is the perfect time to have intercourse. On the other hand, if you’re not trying to get pregnant, this is NOT a good time to have unprotected sex.

Cervical mucus

Have you ever noticed a white or off-white discharge in your underwear or on the toilet paper? This cervical mucus, or cervical fluid, is another indication that ovulation is approaching. Cervical fluid is produced by the cervix, and it changes in appearance and consistency as estrogen levels rise and your body prepares for ovulation.

For a few days after your period, you likely won’t see any fluid. During this time, a follicle in your ovary starts producing estrogen as it prepares to release an egg. As estrogen levels increase, more cervical fluid is released. It may change from a creamy, white fluid to a clear, stretchy fluid that is often compared to egg whites.

The purpose of cervical fluid is to help your body get pregnant. The fluid gives sperm a substance to swim in; otherwise, the sperm wouldn’t be able to reach the egg after it’s released. You can use your period tracker to keep track of cervical fluid so that you know when you’re about to ovulate.

PMS symptoms

Keep track of any other symptoms you experience, such as bloating, cramps, headaches, fatigue, or acne. After a few months of tracking, you may start to see some patterns emerge. This will help you predict when these symptoms are likely to occur during your next cycle so you can be prepared.

How do you calculate when your next period will be?

After ovulation, your cycle enters a stage known as the luteal phase, which lasts until menstruation. This is when the body prepares for a possible pregnancy. Levels of the hormone progesterone begin to rise, triggering the body to thicken the lining of the uterus. If you get pregnant, the fertilized egg has a nice, soft spot to implant and grow. If you don’t get pregnant, that lining is shed during your period.

Here’s the cool thing about the luteal phase: it’s very consistent. So if you know from tracking your cycle that your luteal phase is around 14 days, and if you also chart when you ovulate, you can get a really good idea of when your period will start.

What if your period is late?

Tracking your period will allow you to see right away if your period is late. After you’ve tracked for a few months and have a good idea of the length of your luteal phase, you should know within a couple of days if it’s time to go to the store for a pregnancy test!

You’ve probably heard that stress can delay menstruation. This is true — sort of. Stress can delay ovulation, but it won’t affect the luteal cycle. That means that stress during the first half of your cycle can delay your period, but stress that occurs after ovulation won’t have any effect on the length of your cycle. So if your period is late and you think worrying about it will just delay it further, it won’t! But, if you have severe or unusual stress around the middle of your cycle, it might be a good idea to note that on your tracker.

The end of your cycle

When your period starts again, it’s Day One of a new cycle. Make a note on your tracker of how long your cycle lasted. Unless you have a condition that affects menstruation, like PCOS, you’ll likely start to see a pattern emerge. If you know that your cycle is usually 28 days, you can plan around your period for months in advance!

Your period doesn’t have to be a mystery. Start tracking your cycle and you may be amazed at what you can learn about your own body! This is a lot of information, so don’t worry if it takes several cycles to get the hang of it! If you want to learn more about all of your menstrual symptoms and what they mean, check out the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

As always, if you have any questions, we’re here to help! We’d love to know how tracking your cycle has helped you. Drop a comment below to let us know!

Ready to start tracking? Download our handy period tracker and start getting to know your cycle!

A Prolapsed Uterus: What You Need to Know

A Prolapsed Uterus: What You Need to Know

prolapsed uterus intro photo

A prolapsed uterus can affect women of any age, but primarily affect someone who has gone through menopause or women who have given vaginal birth. Thank goodness it’s not overly common… but it does happen. As scary as it sounds, prolapse isn’t hopeless! Once diagnosed, people dealing with prolapse have an array of options to help them get things back into place. Continue reading for facts and how to prevent or treat uterine prolapse. 

What is a prolapsed uterus?

The uterus (or womb) is a muscular structure that’s held in place by pelvic muscles and ligaments. If these muscles or ligaments stretch or become weak, they’re no longer able to support the uterus, causing prolapse. The definition of ‘prolapse’ is slipping or moving downward. In the event of uterine prolapse, the uterus has migrated down from its original placement into the vaginal canal.  

A prolapsed uterus may be labeled ‘incomplete’ or ‘complete’. Within those are 4 different degrees also. An incomplete prolapse occurs when the uterus is only partly sagging into the vagina. Complete prolapse occurs when the uterus falls so far down that some tissue protrudes outside of the vaginal opening.

  • First Degree – the cervix drops into the vagina.
  • Second Degree – the cervix drops into the vagina just before the opening.
  • Third Degree – The cervix is outside the vagina.
  • Fourth Degree – The entire uterus is outside the vagina. This condition is also called procidentia. This is caused by a weakness in all of the supporting muscles.

What causes prolapse?

As mentioned, ‘prolapse’ means movement or slipping downward. So actually this can happen to any organ in the pelvic region. A prolapsed uterus is primarily present in women 50+ or who are postmenopausal. However, it can happen to any woman with these leading factors:

  • Pregnancy/childbirths with normal or complicated delivery through the vagina (childbirth is probably the biggest strain to the pelvic region known to man)
  • Weakness in the pelvic muscles
  • Weakening and loss of tissue tone after menopause and loss of natural estrogen
  • Conditions leading to increased pressure in the abdomen such as chronic cough (with bronchitis and asthma), straining (with constipation)
  • Being overweight or obese with its additional strain on pelvic muscles
  • Major surgery in the pelvic area leading to loss of external support

Basically, it’s all about muscle and ligaments becoming weak; the uterus needs to be held in place, and if the structures that do that are no longer strong enough, it may slip. Consequently, when one pelvic organ prolapses, it increases the likelihood that others follow because it’s a waving red flag that the group of muscles holding things together in the pelvic area is weak.

Can a menstrual cup cause uterine prolapse?

With new trends and new devices, come new speculations. There aren’t conclusive studies that show menstrual cups cause prolapse of the uterus or other pelvic organs. Healthcare providers do suggest that it can further an already present issue by misuse of a menstrual cup.

When using a menstrual cup, do not bear down on the menstrual cup to lower it in the canal. When you’re wanting to remove the cup, be sure that you completely relax your pelvic muscles prior to removal. Breaking the seal is super important prior to removal. Do so by either pinching the base of the menstrual cup or putting one finger up the side of the cup and listen for the sound of air, meaning the seal has been broken.

What are the symptoms of a prolapsed uterus?

Here are some signs to keep in mind should you have any of the traits above. It greatly depends on the degree of prolapse that is occurring. If it’s mild, doctors will give you a list of exercises and send you on your way!

  1. You feel like you’re sitting on a golf ball. All bodies are different and all situations are different. As mentioned previously, there are different degrees of severity with uterine prolapse. Feeling like you’re sitting on a ball would happen with degree 3 or 4 where the uterus is emerging from the vagina. 
  2. Difficulty urinating. Incontinence, urinary hesitancy, or incomplete bladder emptying which can lead to recurrent UTIs. Slow-release of the urine or feeling like something is pressing on your bladder. 
  3. Constant cramping or pulling in the pelvic region. This may seem like an obvious one but if one organ is moving away from where it should be, the effect could continue and cause a feeling of “heaviness” in the pelvic region. 
  4. Bowl issues. As I mentioned earlier, if something like your uterus is prolapsing, chances are the muscles in your pelvic region are very weak. This can lead to other muscles prolapsing. Props to you if you guessed intestine prolapse! 
  5. Painful sex. Because of how the female reproductive system is laid out, a prolapsed uterus involves the cervix as well; both uterus and cervix “fall” into the vagina, depending on the degree. Sex is painful at best and sometimes impossible depending on the degree of the prolapse. 
  6. Seeing your cervix physically birthing from the vagina. At this point, the pain will be inevitable and this would qualify as a medical emergency and you be brought to the emergency room as soon as possible. But even if you just feel something peculiar inside your vagina alongside peculiar sensations in your pelvic area, you should still get yourself checked out as soon as possible.
yoga pose

How can I prevent uterine prolapse?

After all that, that is a really important question! 

Exercises for the pelvic floor. You’re in luck! We recently spoke in great detail about strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. There are several exercises and stretches you can do in the comfort of your home on a daily basis that will help whip them into shape! 

Kegel Exercises. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, you can do the exercises in any position, although you might find it easiest to do them lying down at first. To do Kegels, imagine you are sitting on a marble and tighten your pelvic muscles as if you’re lifting the marble. Try it for three seconds at a time, then relax for a count of three. It’s recommended to do these a handful of times a day!

Hormones. If you are postmenopausal, your production of estrogen goes down. This has been linked to the weakening of the muscles in the pelvic region. A doctor could suggest an estrogen cream or suppository to help balance you out. Again, this is only a suggestion for someone hormone-deficient.

Vaginal pessary. This is a vaginal device that supports the uterus and keeps it in position. Crazy right!?  It is important to follow the instructions on care, removal, and insertion of the pessary. Discuss with your provider if this treatment is right for you.

Losing weight. Extra weight within the abdomen places unnecessary strain on the pelvic muscles. 

Surgery. Thankfully this is the last option and only if your uterine prolapse is in the 3rd or 4th degree.

Using a menstrual cup with a prolapsed uterus

If you are experiencing slight uterine prolapse and you’re premenopausal, you will still have a period! Tampons could lead to easy irritation due to the position of the vagina and uterus if it is prolapsing. Have you thought about trying a menstrual cup? They are a medical-grade silicone cup-shaped device that folds and sits in the vaginal canal to collect menses. 

Even with a prolapse, many people have been able to use a menstrual cup successfully and without pain. (yay!) Make sure to measure your cervix to get an idea of the space you’re working with. Most women have reported that a menstrual cup that is designed to sit lower in the vaginal canal works best. We have all the information about cup design and size right over here!

menstrual cup versus tampon

If you suspect you have a prolapse occurring, we urge you to go to your doctor to get checked out and diagnosed. Hopefully, this post made the idea of a prolapsed uterus a little less scary and with some hope for recovery! 

Have you experienced a prolapsed uterus in the past? How did you bounce back? Did it affect your menstruation? Be sure to check out our selection of menstrual cups! With the different sizes and shapes, there is one sure to fit your needs! 

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Bullet journal period tracking

Bullet journal period tracking

Bullet journaling has become a super common way of using a planner. Some could say it’s a fad due to its rapid increase in popularity but actually it’s been around for decades! It’s a wonderful method that keeps a record of everything you could ever want to toss at it including tracking your period. It captures the eye of both the methodical record keepers and planners as well as that of the creative, whimsical crowd too. It’s so easily tailored to your personality, so many people have fallen in love with it! Bullet journal period tracking is a great way to keep track of important data related to your flow so that you can spot trends and gain a better understanding of your cycle.

Logging your period is as common as it is important; whether you’re trying to get pregnant, trying to avoid pregnancy or monitoring what your hormones are up to.  The data collected provides incredible information on what’s actually happening in your body. Maybe you’re already marking a small ‘x’ or asterisk next to the date on your calendar when your period starts so you sort of know when you can expect Aunt Flo next. A true period bullet journal, though, is a bit more detailed that logs all your period-related symptoms for several months. What’s the first thing your gynecologist asks you when they first walk in the appointment room? 😉 

“What’s the first day of your last period?”

Bullet journal tracking allows for more detail

There are many apps you can download from your phone’s app store that can keep this data at your fingertips. However, sometimes apps are limited in what they’re able to track or can tend to fit us into a box… and you, girlfriend, are anything but cookie-cutter!  With bullet journaling your period, you’re able to customize it to fit you, through and through. You’re able to document symptoms that are important to you: are you prone to migraines? Need more deodorant? Are you extra fatigued?  You can track anything from your mood, to how you’re physically feeling, what foods you’re craving… or really just when you bleed and when you don’t.

bullet journal period tracking ideas

Apart from the obvious, here are some bullet journal period tracking ideas:

  • Your mood or mental health
  • Self-care
  • Symptoms
  • Birth control
  • Food cravings
  • Discharge
  • Times you’ve had sex
  • Exercise 

Track enough menstrual cycles to capture important patterns

Our periods are there for a reason! They communicate so many things that are actually happening in our bodies. If something is off within us (physical, emotional or mental!) our period is a place where it could show. Hormones have their hand in just about everything and where our period is hormone-driven, the slightest hitch will be shown there!

If you and your physician are trying to get to the bottom of a potential health issue, tracking your period and as many details as you can is important. After a few months, a pattern will be noticeable!

Does your period leave you frustrated? Is it inconsistent? The Period Repair Manual is an awesome resource when questions circle your mind or if you’d just like to know more about the role your cycle plays in your life. This book is a must for any menstruating women’s library!

Keep notes on how you handled your period

We all have period products we know and love. Then there are some of us that haven’t really questioned it, we’ve just always used them because our mom or role model told us to. Trying something different might be a little scary, but it could be well worth it! 

Do you use a tampon + a pad during the heavy first few days of your cycle?Does it taper off and you’re able to just use a tampon? Do you find you may be more crampy on the days you use a tampon? 

Maybe you should try a menstrual cup! A menstrual cup is a reusable silicone product that holds menses in the vagina and can be worn for up to 12 hours. Most women report that they have less cramping and pain when using a menstrual cup and can even forget they are on their period! Imagine that.  These 10 women shared how switching to a cup made their lives better.

How do you track your period? What are some game-changers you’ve learned along the way? We created this handy tracker for each month if you’re looking for something quick, easy and hassle-free!  

 

Have additional ideas? Leave us a comment below!

How to get rid of menstrual cup stains

How to get rid of menstrual cup stains

Menstrual cup stains are super common and are a badge of honor in a way… It shows a lot of use, how you’ve dedicated your cycle to less waste (think of all the products you’ve kept out of landfills!), and that you’ve made the stand to live free. Still, they can be an eyesore. We’ve added a method on removing the stains and some tips on preventing them in the future!

menstrual cup stains

How do I clean off any initial staining?

If your cup is dingy or has staining, let it soak at room temperature for an hour in a glass container or jar with 1/3 cup hydrogen peroxide and 2/3 cup water. This should eat the stains away on its own but if there is anything remaining, take a toothbrush or washcloth and scrub.

How do I prevent menstrual cup stains?

Sterilize your cup regularly. The best way to keep your cup stain-free is to do your best to prevent them! In addition to washing your cup each day and sterilizing your menstrual cup before and after each period, make sure you are giving your cup a scrub in the areas that often experience buildup such as around the rim and in the grooves of the stem. Also, try to minimize the amount of time the cup is exposed to the air without a thorough cleaning because this can lead to the darkening of the silicone.

Give it a good scrub. You may think your cup is beyond saving, but we want to assure you most stains can come off! Are you ready for one of our best stain-removal hacks? Here we go: grab an old toothbrush and scrub your cup with a little warm water and some silicone-safe cleaning solution! You will be surprised how much of the “staining” comes off with this technique!

Let it soak. We all need a steamy bath sometimes, even your menstrual cup! Squirt a little of the cleaning solution mentioned in Step 2 into a bowl or your Pixie Cup Cup with some hot water and let it soak for a few hours! Pair this with a good scrub and you can say goodbye to some tough stains!

Sunsoaking your cup. Placing your menstrual cup in a sunny location (preferably outside) for a few hours will do a world of good for any discoloration. Sun bleaching has been around for centuries and has never let anyone down yet.

Grab some Pixie Cup Wash and an old toothbrush and go to town scrubbing! Your cup will be sparkling in no time.

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