- Blog written by Hanna Cox, Founder of Cloak Confident Girl
Thirteen years ago, after coming off the birth control pill and waiting more than a year to get pregnant, I realized how much the pill had messed up my body, and vowed I’d never use any kind of hormonal birth control again. At the time, I didn’t know what other options my husband and I had for avoiding pregnancy, but I knew a drug or device prescribed by my doctor was not the answer.
Eight years ago, a friend told me she had started charting her cycles to help them conceive. I had never heard of anything like it before, and as I began to do some research about cycle charting, I was intrigued!
I quickly signed up to learn to chart my own cycle and even became trained to teach 2 different methods.
My cycle charting instructor taught me:
- About my menstrual cycle and the hormones that control it
- How to observe my body each day and record what I see on a paper chart or electronic app
- Look at all the days together to see my whole menstrual cycle at once and several cycles together to see the patterns that emerge
- Which phases are fertile or infertile and how I can monitor my own health by looking at my chart
Before learning in-depth about my cycle, I thought periods were only important for making babies, but what I’ve learned is that the fluctuating hormones of my cycle affect my brain, bones, digestion, immune system, skin, breasts, heart, and overall mood. This makes hormone knowledge and period health relevant to women of all ages, maybe especially to young girls who are going through rapid body and emotional changes!
In learning about my unique female body, I gained a respect for myself as a woman that I’d never experienced before.
Learning to chart my cycle has made me a healthier, more confident woman.
I began to wonder why I hadn’t learned any of this important information about my fertility and cycles before….. After all, by the time I finally learned about cycle charting, I’d been experiencing a menstrual cycle for 15 years! But looking back, I don’t have to imagine the difference this knowledge could have made for my health and well-being, because I plan to see it for myself; I will be teaching my own daughters how to chart their menstrual cycles.
The health benefits of menstrual cycle charting
Here is a summary of the things cycle charting has taught me, that I want my daughters to learn much younger than I did:
- How sleep, diet, exercise, and stress affect my fertility cycles and overall health
- How closely my mood and energy levels are tied to my fluctuating hormone levels
- A responsibility to care for and respect my body
- The tools to know when I’m having unhealthy cycle patterns and find a specially trained doctor who knows how to read a woman’s chart and can use it to help diagnose and heal PMS, hormone imbalances, cramping, heavy bleeding, infertility, and literally ANY gynecologic or reproductive issue
- How intricately and beautifully my female body was designed
Empowering girls to understand their periods—and themselves
Let’s also not underestimate the self-confidence girls gain from learning to chart their cycles. By the time she’s charted three of her cycles, a girl should be able to predict what day her period will start. The moment that happens, she suddenly feels in control of her body. She understands what her body is doing and has a deeper respect for herself and her fertility.
Think back, for a moment, to your own experience of puberty. Perhaps you, like so many girls, felt out-of-control as this “thing” (your period) suddenly happened to you, completely beyond your control. Is it any wonder that with greater knowledge of her cycles, a teen girl will feel more confident and empowered, and more capable of handling her transition to adulthood?
What’s more, this self-awareness and confidence empowers her to do what’s best for herself in other areas of her life. Studies done on the TeenSTAR program, a curriculum that teaches teen girls about their cycles and how to chart them, have shown that girls who completed the program were better able to resist peer pressure and delay (or cease) sexual activity.
I want my three girls to obtain the knowledge and wisdom that comes from learning to chart their cycles—and at a much younger age than I received it. I often wonder how I would’ve changed some of my life choices If I’d had the same respect for my body then as I do now.
Resources for teaching teens about menstrual cycles and fertility
There are several different methods and programs out there for teaching adult women how to chart their cycles and the awesome part is that once a woman gains this skill, she can use her charting for whichever purpose suits her phase in life: avoiding pregnancy, achieving pregnancy, getting restorative medical help for reproductive issues or simply for learning about her health and fertility.
Because this mission is so important to me, I designed and now offer an age-appropriate, fertility-positive program for teaching your daughter about her periods, fertility cycles, how to chart them and maybe most importantly, how to care for her changing body. My program is called Cloak Confident Girl (which you can find below), but there are other excellent, reputable programs out there, too. Here are a list of programs I recommend:
Cloak Confident Girl https://www.cloakofroses.com/
Teen STAR https://www.teenstar.org
Pearl and Thistle https://www.pearlandthistle.com/cycle-prep.html
Guiding Star Project https://guidingstarproject.com/cycle-show/
Couple to Couple League https://www.motherdaughterarea.org/
If you have any questions about cycle charting for teens or adults, please reach out and email me at email@example.com.