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Navigating Perimenopause: The Power of Cycle Tracking

Entering perimenopause can be a complex journey, especially making sense out of the  hormonal fluctuations and keeping up with various changes in our bodies. Today I want to introduce you to a powerful tool that offers insight and empowerment: cycle tracking. By understanding what cycle tracking entails, its benefits, and how to use it effectively during perimenopause, you can navigate this phase with greater ease and confidence.

What is Cycle Tracking and Why Should You Do it?

Cycle tracking involves monitoring various aspects of the menstrual cycle, such as the length of the cycle, menstrual flow, symptoms, and emotional fluctuations. The best thing you can do to exactly know where you are in your cycle is to record your daily basal body temperature (BBT) and cervical fluid changes.

Your BBT is your resting body temperature immediately upon waking (before you get out of bed or do anything else), and can be measured using a thermometer with two decimal places. 

basal body temperature chart
Image source: Clearblue

After ovulation, your BBT spikes and stays higher than your pre-ovulatory temperatures for the remainder of the cycle. This temperature spike is due to the thermogenic effect of progesterone, which is produced in the ovaries only after ovulation.This means that if you have a sustained spike in your BBT around the middle of your cycle, it confirms that you have ovulated.

In perimenopause, we have more and more anovulatory cycles (we don’t ovulate) or our ovulation still happens but is not as robust as to put out enough progesterone. By tracking your BBT, you’ll know if and when you ovulated: ovulation is the main event of your cycle and even if your cycle is regular, it doesn’t mean that you ovulated. You can also bleed when your hormones drop. This will happen when your body senses that there is no pregnancy and sends a signal for your uterine lining to start shedding – the signal comes in the form of a drop in progesterone. So you have a hormonal bleed, but not an actual period. These bleeds tend to be lighter and don’t flow as much.

This is also very useful if you are taking bioidentical progesterone replacement therapy as it will tell you exactly which day of your cycle you’ll need to start taking it or that you may skip taking it during a cycle where you did have a robust ovulation. 

Why is ovulation so important? If you don’t ovulate, you won’t make enough progesterone in luteal phase and that equals:

  • Increased anxiety

  • Shorter cycles

  • Spotting

  • Sleep issues, insomnia

  • Painful periods

  • Mood swings and irritability

  • Headaches or migraines particularly before your period

  • Tender breasts

  • Bloating

When ovulation is imminent, your cervical fluid becomes a translucent “egg white” consistency and/or the sensation when wiping with toilet paper is very slippery.  After ovulation your cervical fluid quickly dries up, reverting to a pasty or sticky consistency. This is also your peak day or your most fertile day. It is the very last day you see fertile-quality cervical fluid before going sticky or dry after ovulation.

How to track your cycle:

Traditionally, women have used pen and paper to record this information in a menstrual calendar or diary. Now we have various digital apps and devices at our disposal that make it more convenient and efficient to track your cycle.

  • Choose a tracking method that fits best with your preferences and lifestyle. Options range from traditional paper calendars to user-friendly mobile apps and wearable devices.

  • Track the start and end dates of your period, flow intensity, accompanying symptoms, and emotional fluctuations. Remember that day 1 of your cycle is the first day of your period. A day or two after ovulation, your temperature will typically rise at least two tenths (2/10’s) of a degree and stay elevated until your next period.

  • Take your temperature at the same time or as close to the same time every day

  • Take your temperature as soon as you wake up before doing anything else at all including getting out of bed

  • Only take your temperature if you had at least 3 consecutive hours of sleep

  • Make sure to note any kind of illness, episodes of stress, and travel (especially if changing time zones) as these can all impact your temperature

  • Use reminders and alerts so you don’t forget

If you are doing all these and are not seeing a typical thermal shift then it could mean two things:

  1. Your corpus luteum is not producing enough progesterone for you to see the shift => this will be happening more and more often in perimenopause and the closer you get to menopause

  2. You have an underlying thyroid issue -hypothyroid or under-active thyroid function – that is causing your temperatures to stay low.

Tools and Devices for Cycle Tracking:

  • Mobile Apps: There is a wealth of menstrual tracking apps available for smartphones, offering features such as cycle predictions, symptom tracking, and data visualization. Clue or Read Your Body are great one for example.

  • Wearable devices, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, often include menstrual tracking functionalities, allowing users to monitor cycles alongside other health metrics. Ava Fertility Tracker is a great option.

  • Fertility Monitors: Fertility monitors like Daysy use advanced technology to track hormone levels and identify fertile days for women trying to conceive. These devices can also be valuable for cycle tracking in perimenopause.

  • Basal Body Thermometers: If you want to keep it simple or save some money a BBT (basal body temperature) thermometer will work just fine!. You can find them on Amazon. You can log your temperature into any cycle tracking app, or go old school with a paper chart. Some thermometers will automatically populate an app that goes with it.

  • Traditional Paper Calendars: For those who prefer a low-tech approach, traditional paper calendars or diaries provide a simple yet effective means of recording cycle data.


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