Sometimes your menstrual cycle has the ability to throw off the balance of your routine— almost like a banana peel, waiting for you to trip and take a tumble. It starts with cramps, causing you to skip your favorite workout, and ends with cancelling plans, ditching your new favorite jeans, and swapping a night out with friends for a night in on the couch. While there is nothing wrong with catering your routine to your cycle (in fact, we encourage it!), planning ahead and tracking your menstrual cycle on a calendar (or with apps like Clue or Flo) could make these changes feel even smoother. Read below for some key benefits to tracking your period, and be sure to add any that we missed in the comments!
Customizing your skincare routine
Hormonal acne and flare-ups most commonly occur roughly 7-10 days before your period starts. This is because sebum, the oily matter that lives on the surface of your skin, is produced by the sebaceous glands at a higher volume due to your progesterone levels dropping and estrogen levels rising. A surprise breakout can throw off your morning (because even when it’s barely noticeable, it feels like it’s taking up half your face, right?) but if you’re planning ahead with a tracker, you can start prepping for them sooner. Cutting down on sugar (an inflammatory) and using acne-fighting products like salicylic acid can be helpful ways to prepare. And you can mentally prepare yourself, so if you do end up seeing that hormonal zit in the mirror, you can take a deep breath, drink a glass of water and not pick (pinky promise you won’t?).
Sometimes all you want to do on your period is curl up in bed to take a nap, but the few days leading up to your period can actually cause restlessness when trying to sleep. This is because right before your period, progesterone levels drop, and the withdrawal can disturb sleep and leave you feeling alert while you’re trying to enjoy sweet dreams of Adam Driver (or whoever your go-to celebrity crush is). You can plan ahead by avoiding sugary and/or alcoholic beverages, enjoying an evening workout that tuckers you out, and opt for a book versus screen time so you can slowly start to power down.
Understanding your emotions
PMS can cause depression and increased anxiety in some people. When you are in the midst of a depressed or anxious state, it can feel like your whole world is crashing down. Feeling like you are out of control of your emotions can cause a snowball effect which worsens the depression.
While tracking your cycle won't eliminate the hormone fluctuations responsible for your emotional agony, it can help provide context as to why you are feeling this way, which can help you regain a sense of control. After tracking your cycle for a few months, you may notice you always feel depressed for a few days before your period, so you can prepare to practice extra self-care on those days. On the flipside, you may notice that your depression or anxiety isn't related to your cycle at all, in which case it may encourage you to seek out professional help.
Plan outfits ahead of time
We’re guessing you're familiar with the period bloat? If you’re not, we’re eternally jealous. It arrives several days before your period due to fluid retention from the spike in estrogen levels, making your favorite worn-in pair of jeans feel like an unexpected torture device. Plan ahead by creating some of your coziest and most comfortable outfits for these days, so you don’t end up asking yourself “why me?” as your squirm through a meeting.
Naturally, we saved the best for last! In the second and third week of your cycle, during your follicular and ovulation phases, there’s a spike in your testosterone and estrogen levels. This means we may feel, for lack of a better phrase, hornier than usual, and you may find it easier to reach orgasm. This may be a good time to plan a steamy date night, draw a warm bath by candlelight, or just roll over to face your partner and say, “Hey, do you wanna have sex?” In terms of cycle tracking, it may be one of your favorite things to look forward to.
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