Updated: Aug 4
By Charlotte Pointeaux, Certified Womxn's Life Coach, trained Youth Mentor, Sacred Circle Holder and author of Simply Sacred Self-Care
Did you know that on average, Australian females experience between 450-500 periods in her lifetime, with the average cycle spanning between 21-35 days, and the average bleed lasting between 2-7 days?
Once we begin menstruating (at menarche - pronounced "men-ar-kee") which occurs anywhere these days between roughly the ages of 8-15, and commonly around ages 12-13, we begin our monthly bleed (menstrual cycle) until we reach menopause which occurs approximately at the age of 50 (although again, this can occur much earlier or later as it is do individual).
After menarche our periods will be irregular for most of our teen years until the rhythm is established and our hormones settle into their natural, beautiful cycle. You might notice that some months you bleed for longer, or more heavily than other times, or that your cycle isn't the same length each time. This is all ok - everyone's cycle is different.
SO WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY "MONTHLY / MENSTRUAL CYCLE"?
Your cycle begins on Day 1, which is the first day of your period. Light gentle spotting (odd dots or a very very light flow of blood), which can occur before the full bleed doesn't count here though - we're looking for the heavier flow, which can sometimes be dark red or brown in colour, and is generally the heaviest it will be all period long. The last day of your cycle is the final blood-free day before your next period begins.
Then, if the average cycle lasts for 28 days, we can roughly split each cycle into 4 weeks, where each week is a distinct phase, or season, of its own. It looks a bit like this:
Since our cycles are on average 28 days long just like the moon's cycle, many people call the menstrual cycle their Moon Cycle which I love! It's yet another easy way to use nature to track our cycles - it can be particularly useful for example, to know which season we are usually in on full or dark moon. So next time you're bleeding, look at the night sky!
QUESTION: What if my cycle isn't 28 days long like you say it should be?
It's really important to know that many, many people's periods don't last the average 28 days. Often it's a bit longer or shorter and can even change month to month. This is all super normal and ok! Mine as a teenager was all over the place, very heavy and painful, before it settled down to being about 29 days. Then, after I had my babies my cycles went from lasting 4 weeks to lasting 6 weeks! Hormones can change our cycles anytime, which is why in our teen years, after having babies, and when we approach menopause our cycles can change up.
Also - things like being ill, very stressed, under or over weight, or underlying hormonal issues for example can cause our cycles to play up. This is why its so important to track our cycles each month so that we can tune into what our body is trying to tell us if our cycle runs amok. By knowing what pattern our own cycle follows, we know when its changed, or if it's always very heavy or long, and we can check out what might be going on to cause it.
If this is happening to you, girls it's a great idea to speak to your mum or another trusted adult for advice, and maybe see a Dr. Just please don't be talked into going straight onto hormonal contraception such as the Pill without looking for a natural alternative solution and doing your homework first, because these don't fix the underlying problem: they only put a mask on it and make it look like all is well. The Pill can also can cause a lot of side effects because it messes with your whole body. You don't want to find that years later your problem has become much worse, leading to serious pain, needing an operation, or even infertility, when really it could have been addressed before. Seeing a naturopath (a medical practitioner who specialises in treating health issues holistically and with natural medicines) is a much better idea as they'll look at supporting your hormones and wellbeing naturally to solve the underlying problem.
WHAT ARE THE 4 SEASONS ABOUT?
By breaking our cycles down into 4 weeks, and naming each week by a different season (even if your's are a bit more / less than a week) it helps us to remember where we are at in our own cycle. Also, importantly, each season has its own energy and super power which we can tap into to live and feel really well each week! Very cool.
Our inner seasons are pretty similar to the seasons we see in nature, and are such a powerful guide to show us how we feel, what we need and what we are good at that week. So what and when are the 4 seasons? Listen up...
Our bleeding days (period), usually days 1-5 of our cycle although it's totally normal if your's is a little bit longer or shorter.
Super Power: intuition (our inner wisdom is strong), emotionally sensitive.
How to live your best life in your inner 'Winter':
Go into hibernation just like nature does in winter. Allow yourself to rest, go slow, and sleep plenty. You'll feel a lot and be emotionally sensitive. Let go of pleasing other people and focus on you. Write, read, think about how you feel and dream about future plans!
In 'Winter' our intuition becomes really strong. If you're not sure what intuition is you can have a read of my blog post about it here, but basically its our inner wisdom, or knowing, or spidey-sense, or gut instinct. Ever felt like you knew the answer to something already, or how someone else is feeling without asking? Your intuition is speaking to you! Right now during your period you can listen in more to your intuition to get answers on those big things you're deciding on - this is a true superpower!
Strenuous exercise is best left alone if possible, and be aware that we really won't feel like going out of our way to help other people at this time - their demands can make us snappy. Being aware of this can help us be kind to others, and to ourself.
Our bleeding has finished, usually days 6-11 of our cycle (remembering it might be different for you). New life is emerging just like in actual spring!
Super Power: you're super focused, creative, playful, driven and social.
How to live your best life in your inner 'Spring':
Make the most of this time by planning new projects and getting stuck into details and hard work. It's the best time ever to make new plans, jot down ideas, get creative and start to smash out the to-do list. We're really great at concentrating right now, at working hard on new projects and using our physical strength to get stuff done. At school its a great time to dive into that huge assignment you've got or to revise ahead of your exams - or if you're working, settle down to work on that big project you've been putting off - it'll feel really natural and most easy to you in this phase. Enjoy the beauty and wonder of your inner spring!
Don' t let this wonderful time pass without enjoying it!
The peak of our cycle, usually around days 12-19 (is your's?). High energy, it's the peak of our cycle when we are in full bloom.
Super Power: confidence, life of the party, feel invincible!
How to live your best life in your inner 'Summer':
Be very social! We look great, our skin and hair are glossy and amazing, we feel confident, vibrant, self-assured and flirty. We're all about hanging out, and are high on life! Knowing its your summer helps you use this energy to shine, whether at school, work, in your relationship or with friends, or to feel bold enough to share your talents and go for it! It's a great time to get things done and be creative.
You'll feel powerful, flirty, sensual and invincible! Be proud of who you are, and allow yourself to truly SHINE!
It's a good time because we are at our most powerful, but be careful because we can go a bit OTT when we feel invincible! No-one is going to get you to take it easy this week, but it's important to use our power wisely. When we feel so confident and self-assured sometimes we can't recognise when we've gone too far or made an error. We're much more prone to risk-taking behaviour so the key to the best Summer ever is to go for it - but be mindful that it doesn't mean we suddenly have all the answers. It's ok to ask for help, or accept other people's ideas about how we could do something even better.
SPECIAL NOTE: Summer is baby-making time so take care if you're keen to avoiding falling pregnant!
This is the week that you ovulate - when an egg is released from your ovary and makes its way down to the uterus. The reason you're feeling so shiny and flirty and confident right now is because the beautiful feel-good and fertility hormones sky rocket! This is when you can fall pregnant if you have unprotected sex - so girls if you are sexually active, please please always use contraception, and even consider avoiding having sex during Summer to rule out the chances of accidentally becoming a Mum. And also please note - whilst your cycle is unsettled like during your teen years or after having a baby, you may ovulate and be fertile not when you expect so always use contraception anyway to keep you healthy, safe and in control. Smart girls and boys all do, regardless of what you might hear.
Another reason why tracking our cycles is so important: we can use the knowledge to actively avoid or fall pregnant depending on our stage of life.
Pre-menstrual week, usually days 20-27 of our cycle (but your's might be a touch different!). Like trees sheds their leaves, in Autumn we too wind down and let go of what we don't need to be doing at this time.
Super Power: learning, feeling, reflecting, self-care
How to live your best life in your inner 'Autumn':
Let yourself have some quiet time and be alone by yourself more. It's ok! It's a great time to be more reflective and think more about what is happening in your life, and how you feel about it. If you have a journal try writing in it every day to note down your feelings and what happened for you that day.
Autumn is a good time for learning so maybe pick up a book or do some quiet study.
During Autumn it's really important to take excellent care of ourselves and follow our self-care routine - whether this includes a salt bath, eating nourishing foods, walking or yoga, or a pamper session. And if you don't know what you like to do for "self-care" maybe now is the time to find out! Try a few different things and see what feels best for you. You'll thank yourself later!
Now isn't the most ideal time to start new projects or to be very physical, or sociable. Our inner mean girl will start to speak out against us and question everything we've said or done over this last cycle which can make us feel uncomfortable and second-guess ourselves. The best thing to do when your mean girl pipes up is to treat ourselves like we would our best friend: with love and kindness, and let these feelings wash over us.
Remember too that if we don't tend to ourselves with love and self-care now we can easily feel those cranky PMS symptoms sneak up on us which can cause us hurt and frustration over Autumn/Winter.
We become assertive during Autumn to help us say "NO" to what doesn't feel good to us, and "YES" to what we know we really need- use your voice and don't be afraid to speak out for what you need.
TIP: When we don't love our cycle and treat it like it's a huge burden, chances are we will get PMS every month. Autumn is a signal to slow and care for ourselves, and to honour our cycles. Do this, and PMS will fade away, promise.
SO Instead of seeing our periods as gross, or annoying, or the worst time of the month ever, we can learn to see it's beauty and use its many super powers. Knowing which super power we have access to at which point in our moon cycle can help us feel our most amazing self all month long. For example in Autumn we now know that we really need to care for ourselves more and we won't be as sociable as in Spring or Summer.
SO HOW CAN I TRACK MY MOON CYCLE + PERIOD?
There are a few ways of doing it, either on old-fashioned paper, or using an app on your phone, or making a note in your daily diary if you keep one. It can seem confusing and tricky at first but really, its quite simple. Let me show you how!
The basics include making a note at roughly the same time of day every day, of:
1) Are you bleeding?
Note down whether your flow is heavy, medium, or light, or if you aren't bleeding today.
2) How is your energy level?
High energy = when you want to be active, physical, feel energised and capable, and enjoy exercise. Low energy = when you want to be restful, feel tired, sleepy, like snuggling up and being quiet.
3) How is your mood?
High mood = you feel very social, happy, talkative, joyful, sensual, bubbly. Low mood = you feel irritable, snappy, feel a bit more down or sad.
4) Anything else you experienced that day:
Make a note of how your body feels, eg, sore, or tired etc, or note down what happened in your day, eg, smashed out a personal best at the gym / you had a great time out with mates / had a big fight with your loved ones / or you felt particularly sad, for example.
And that's it! By watching how these things change (especially #1- when you're bleeding) over the month you can see your very own cycle pattern! Too easy.
TOOLS FOR TRACKING YOUR CYCLE
FREE Chart template download for you!
You're so welcome to print this chart template and use it to track your cycle - I made it just for you! It's got space to remind you of what to make a note of each day, but has room for you to make your own notes too. You could decorate it if you like, get all your friends to do one so you can compare, or keep it totally hidden and private and no-one will really know what it's for unless you tell them..
Download and Print off 1 sheet per cycle, so start a new one on the 1st day of each period (remember: Day 1 = 1st day of bleeding). You'll be able to keep the charts and look back over them to spot patterns like:
How long was my cycle last month vs this month?
How many days did I bleed for?
How many heavy bleed days did I have?
What were some signs the week before my period that it was due soon? E.g. can you spot clues and patterns in the energy or mood levels you felt, or in the other notes you made?
Because apps are tech-based, they automatically predict when your next period is going to come, once it has enough data entered. Handy, right!
You'll find most apps out there are made for women who want to know their cycle in-depth to help them have a baby - but that's not to say you can't use them too if you're trying to avoid pregnancy. Here are some good ones to check out, pick whichever you like best:
FLO: they have a simple period tracking app perfect for first-time trackers, and a TON of very informative articles to answer your kazillion questions about periods, puberty, avoiding pregnancy and much more!
KINDARA: a great app for tracking so many signs and symptoms throughout our cycle. When setting up flip it into the right mode for you: tracking your cycle, falling pregnant or avoiding pregnancy. There's a lot of room to add your own signs to track and a whole lot more.
YOUR OWN DIARY
In your own diary, just make notes around each of the dot points 1-4 above and use it to count forward 28 days, or however long yours is once you start to spot the pattern. Using your own diary means you can write as much or as little about how you're feeling - it's totally up to you!
So there you have it - you now know what our cycles are, why it's important to track them and how you can track yours.
I'd love to know: are you going to give it a go, and which method are you going to use? What do you want to learn from tracking your moon cycle?
For a rich guide on how to fit self-care in best alignment with your cycle, plus how to really get the best out of your changing energies across the month, grab yourself a copy of Simply Sacred Self-Care as a Ebook or printed book now.
Both come with a pack of digital downloadable audio meditations, affirmations, guided rituals plus cycle tracking charts for people who are having periods AND people who do not (ie if you are experiencing amenorrhea, are pregnant or breastfeeding, are menopausal or take hormonal contraceptives. It's a potent, rich guide to helping you live in powerful alignemnt with your incredible feminine self! Go to www.charlottepointeaux.com/book now!