You may think that just because you are not actively trying to get pregnant doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be tracking and understanding your cycles with PCOS. The truth is that our fertility is just one piece of the puzzle. Knowing more about your cycle can provide valuable insight into your overall health, with some doctors even calling it the 5th vital sign.
For those with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS, learning about your cycle can be particularly important because everyone experiences different symptoms of the condition and requires different types of self-care – or even medical attention – at different stages. Unfortunately, cycle tracking can also be particularly challenging for those of us with PCOS, which is why it’s important to understand which tools work with irregular cycles, like OvuSense, and which do not.
So, why do we have unusual cycles? Essentially, PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that interferes with your body’s processes. For example, while typically every month a follicle matures and gets released by your ovaries to be fertilized, with PCOS, the follicle doesn’t mature or get released and instead stays in the ovaries. These follicles— often called cysts— build in the ovaries, interfering with your cycles, period, and ovulation. For more about PCOS cycle patterns, check out “New Research Finds 3 Unique PCOS Cycles. What Does That Mean for You? [Podcast]“.
If your cycle is a running track, understanding it can allow you to overcome the hurdles, prepare for the curves, and make the most of the straightaways.
Below are five of the many reasons — beyond trying to conceive (TTC)— that you should track your cycles with PCOS to help take control of your PCOS and life.
1 Anticipating Your Needs
If your period comes at the same time each month, you may not understand how anxiety-causing a surprise from Aunt Flo can be. For those with PCOS who often experience irregular cycles, knowing if and when your period is coming allows you to prepare and keep the appropriate pads, tampons, or other necessities with you — preventing the hassle or embarrassment of an unexpected “code red” and the symptoms that come along with it. It may also help you to predict and recognize emotional ups and downs.
2. Emotions & Mental State
Understanding not only how but when your body reacts to changes in your hormones is another benefit of tracking your cycle over time. For many, if you are not pregnant and implantation doesn’t occur, progesterone levels will begin to decline during the luteal phase. This drop, in combination with fluctuating estrogen, can cause many women to experience PMS symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, anxiety, or depression. Being able to anticipate and plan around the times of the month when you may struggle with these symptoms can make a world of difference in your mental health, not to mention give you the opportunity to counteract these effects with the appropriate medication, exercise adaptations, or a self-care routine.
3. Energy Levels
Knowing how your energy levels fluctuate during your cycle is another benefit of tracking— and we’re not just talking about physical energy. Building estrogen and testosterone during the follicular phase causes many women to feel their best during this time, generally experiencing clearer thinking, higher energy, and increased sex drive. Having that insight into how you might be feeling allows you to make the most of your highs and lows — planning low-keys days when you often experience headaches, challenging workouts on the days you are at your peak, and some dedicated intimate time when you are feeling your most active and eager.
Experiencing an uncontrollable appetite or even binge eating before your period may not be avoidable, but knowing when it is coming can allow you to prepare. According to research, high progesterone levels right before your period may lead to compulsive eating and body dissatisfaction. Fortunately, it should only last a few days, but being able to stock up on healthier snacks to satisfy those cravings may put you in a better place. Learning how your cycle affects you eating habits can be particularly important for those with PCOS who often experience insulin resistance, a condition during which your body may try to pump out high levels of insulin in an effort to keep your blood sugar levels normal, making it harder to control your weight.
5. A General Window into Your Health
According to research, only 13% of women have 28-day cycles — so calling that a “regular” cycle feels almost silly. However, knowing what your individual cycle looks like can be an incredibly insightful window into your overall health. Whether your cycle is particularly long, doesn’t come at all, or your period is extremely heavy, knowing how your body is working and reacting compared to cycles past can indicate to you that something is amiss and worth consulting your doctor — or perhaps improving based on lifestyle changes or supplements! Keeping track of your cycles, particularly for women with PCOS, can help you become more in-tune with your body and put you in a better place to thrive.
Interested in learning more about OvuSense and how it can help you track your cycles with PCOS? Don’t forget to read my review and use code DIVA2020 for 20% off.
Amy Medling, best-selling author of Healing PCOS and certified health coach, specializes in working with women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), who are frustrated and have lost all hope when the only solution their doctors offer is to lose weight, take a pill, and live with their symptoms. In response, Amy founded PCOS Diva and developed a proven protocol of supplements, diet, and lifestyle programs that offer women tools to help gain control of their PCOS and regain their fertility, femininity, health, and happiness.