Menstrual cycle mapping is the process of tracking and recording various hormonal changes throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle. Menstrual cycle mapping is also known as cycle tracking or fertility tracking. In the process of keeping a record of a woman’s menstrual cycle and other related areas, she can identify patterns and changes in her menstrual cycle over time. Primitive self-monitoring of the menstrual cycle can help identify the timing of ovulation, manage PMS symptoms, and detect potential fertility issues.
Benefits of Menstrual Cycle Mapping
Typically, self-monitoring and mapping of menstrual cycles involves keeping track of the dates of one’s period, as well as any symptoms or changes experienced throughout the cycle, such as changes in mood, energy levels, or physical symptoms like cramps or bloating. It can be useful to anticipate the onset of symptoms or cycles and then plan and prepare accordingly.
More detailed recording and journaling could reveal foods or medications that worsen or alleviate certain menstrual symptoms, which is a useful way to manage discomfort. By tracking these changes over several cycles, individuals can gain insight into their unique menstrual patterns and potentially identify any irregularities or health concerns.
Many women use menstrual cycle mapping as a tool for natural family planning, as it can help them identify the most fertile days in their cycle for trying to conceive or for avoiding pregnancy by using contraception during their most fertile days. Some women also keep track of other vital information like body temperature each morning because a higher temperature can mean ovulation has occurred. There are even mobile apps and web-based calculators designed to facilitate basic cycle and symptom mapping, as well as windows for ovulation.
How to Map the Menstrual Cycle
Anyone can learn to keep records of their menstrual cycles and related symptoms. Women who want to start mapping their menstrual cycles should start by marking the first day of their period on a calendar, in a journal or daily planner, or within a mobile app like those mentioned above. Recording other variables, like menstrual symptoms, as necessary, is also a good habit to start.
We recommended tracking menstrual cycles for at least two to three months to get a better understanding of your individual, natural body rhythm and cycle. Recording this data over the course of several months can help identify patterns. Overall, you can build a better personal understanding of your own menstrual cycle.
Tips for Monitoring and Mapping Menstrual Cycles
There are several ways you can make your menstrual mapping journey a success.
Use a Period Tracker App
There are many user-friendly smartphone apps available that are designed to help you track your menstrual cycles and related factors, such as symptoms of PMS and even when you engage in sex. They may also provide information about your fertility, such as a monthly ovulation window, or offer individualized tips on cycle-related topics. Some of these apps are more complex than others and provide charts and graphs that go back for as long as you have been inputting data, enabling you to build a picture of your cycle as you age.
Keep a Calendar or Journal
One of the simplest ways to begin tracking menstrual cycles is to mark the first and last days of your period on a calendar or in a journal. Women starting to monitor cycles may want to get in the habit of also noting any symptoms or changes they experience throughout their cycle, such as changes in mood, energy levels, or physical symptoms like cramps or bloating.
Monitor Basal Body Temperature
Basal body temperature (BBT) is the body’s temperature at rest. By taking your temperature first thing in the morning before getting out of bed, you can track changes in BBT throughout your cycle. This is especially important because BBT typically rises after ovulation, which can help you identify the fertile window most conducive to pregnancy.
Use an Ovulation Predictor Kit
Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) can also help identify when a woman is ovulating by detecting the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge that occurs before ovulation. Using an OPK around the time ovulation is expected, along with other methods such as BBT tracking and period tracking in general, can further identify when your fertile window is open, thus facilitating pregnancy attempts.
Pay Attention to Cervical Mucus
Cervical mucus changes throughout the menstrual cycle in response to hormonal fluctuations. By paying attention to changes in your cervical mucus, you can help identify your fertile window. Cervical mucus typically becomes more slippery and stretchy around the time of ovulation.
It’s normal for women to have some variations in the length and timing of their menstrual cycles each month. Don’t stress if one cycle is a few days shorter or longer than usual or if you experience an irregular cycle every now and then. However, if your periods are frequently irregular, monitoring them is all the more important.
Use the Map to Inform Self-Care
Menstrual cycle mapping can help identify patterns and triggers for discomfort and other symptoms you experience at different phases of your cycles. Many women find this information useful in informing self-care practices. Consider adjusting diet or exercise routines to better support menstrual cycle health.
It is important to track menstrual cycles in the same way each month. Whether you choose a calendar, an app, or another tracking method, stick with one method and refrain from eliminating elements as you go. Consistency will provide the most accurate picture of menstrual patterns.
It’s important to note that everyone’s menstrual cycle is different, which is why monitoring your individual cycle is so important. Menstrual cycle mapping is a personal and individual process, and what works for one person may not work for another. It may take some time and experimentation to figure out which tracking methods work best for you. However, consistency is key, though, so appropriate time should be given to allow for data to build up and habits to take root.
Practice Mindfulness in Monitoring
Staying mindful throughout your menstrual cycle and noting any symptoms or changes in body rhythms will contribute to a more thorough map that can be used more comprehensively. Getting into the habit of being mindful of cycles, symptoms, and changes and writing them down or inputting them into an app needs only a little discipline before it becomes part of your daily routine. Thorough monitoring and comprehensive notes will be easier to interpret.
Consider Using Multiple Tracking Methods at a Time
When cycle mapping, consider using multiple tracking methods at a time. For example, you can track periods on a calendar and monitor changes in basal body temperature or cervical mucus on an app. This can provide a complete picture of the menstrual cycle and improve the accuracy of predictions.
Hiring a Period Coach
Another unique approach to cycle mapping is hiring a period coach. A period coach is a professional trainer who teaches women to understand their cycles on a much deeper level. Through careful note-taking, tracking, analysis, and review, the period coach guides their clients to sync every facet of their lives with their unique cycle patterns, creating a more harmonious existence overall.
This approach compares a woman’s monthly cycle phases with the earth’s four seasons. As the parallels between the two are examined month after month, you can learn to plan for the best times for certain activities and vice versa, thus, optimizing each week for activities that are best suited for that phase/season. A period coach can help women learn to predict when they will feel great and when they will not. By planning life around the results of this exploration, you may experience a more peace-centered life.
Benefits of Advanced Menstrual Mapping
More advanced methods of cycle mapping have been developed in recent years that provide women with a more detailed report of hormone levels. These can be used to find the underlying cause of fertility issues, as well as address other problems. Some additional benefits of advanced hormone mapping include the following:
- By understanding changes in hormone levels that occur throughout the menstrual cycle, it may be possible to identify factors that contribute to premenstrual symptoms like mood changes or cramps and take steps to manage them.
- By tracking menstrual cycle data over time, it may be possible to detect potential issues with fertility, such as irregular cycles or a lack of ovulation.
- Tracking menstrual cycles over time can help women gain a better understanding of their unique patterns and rhythms.
- A better understanding of the menstrual cycle can help in identifying any irregularities or changes that may indicate a health concern, such as PCOS or thyroid issues.
- Menstrual cycle mapping can help identify the most fertile days within a cycle and provide insight into understanding the chances of getting pregnant.
- By gaining a better understanding of the menstrual cycle, it may be possible to make lifestyle changes that support overall health and well-being.
ZRT Menstrual Cycle Mapping Test Kit
For those women who prefer a more thorough cycle mapping report, the ZRT Menstrual Cycle Mapping Test Kit is an assessment of estrogen and progesterone sex hormones and LH hormones. It tests patterns of these hormones throughout the menstrual cycle and can be useful in uncovering the root cause of such challenges some women face related to the menstrual cycle. These challenges may include irregular cycles, hormonal mood swings, PMS/PMDD, amenorrhea, and fertility.
Once samples are collected and sent to the lab, they are analyzed until the results are available online. The easy-to-read report includes a graphic representation of data and self-reported symptoms. The results are categorized as presenting in one of the following four common cycle maps (or another less common map):
- Ovulatory Menstrual Cycle (typical, average menstrual cycle)
- Luteal Phase Defect Cycle (indicates an imbalance in progesterone and estrogen that may cause symptoms of estrogen dominance, PMS symptoms, spotting before menses and/or earlier menses
- Peri-Menopausal Cycle
- Post-menopausal Cycle
The ZRT Menstrual Cycle Mapping Test Kit is a safe and informative way for women to obtain important data about their cycle and their bodies. When used properly, the information made available in this report can be life-changing.
Menstrual Mapping FAQs
Mapping menstrual cycles is a relatively simple process, especially with a cycle mapping test kit. Here are the answers to some common questions about the process.
Menstrual Mapping Kit at Compounding Pharmacy of America
Whether you are looking to identify symptom patterns, track fertility, or simply develop a better sense of your natural cycles, Compounding Pharmacy of America is proud to offer the ZRT Menstrual Cycle Mapping Test Kit. Shop online for your test kit today.
Chief Operating Officer, The Compounding Pharmacy of America
Matthew Poteet, Pharm.D. graduated with Honors from Lee University with a Bachelors of Science in Biological Science. After his undergraduate training, he completed the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy, graduating in 2004. Dr. Poteet has spent much of his pharmacy career on staff at two of the most prestigious academic teaching hospitals in the Southeast; Emory University in Atlanta and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. At these institutions he received extensive experience and training in sterile products compounding.
He returned home to East Tennessee in 2010, where he has held the position of Pharmacy Director at two sterile products pharmacies in Knoxville. Matthew lives in Knoxville with his wife, Chris. Dr. Poteet is Tennessee’s first Board Certified Anti-Aging Pharmacist by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.