Is your cycle unpredictable these days – showing up early or late, or skipping a month at a time? If you’ve noticed a change (or changes!) to your menstrual cycle over the past two years, you’re not alone! In a recent survey, more than half of women reported a change in their cycle since the start of the pandemic, according to a study published in the Journal of Women's Health. This makes sense, of course, as the pandemic has brought unbelievable stress into our lives, which as we know, can have an impact on our cycles.
While it’s important to target the root of the problem, it may not be realistic at this time to eliminate all of your stress. However, there are things you can do to help better predict your irregular cycle patterns to get into more of a routine when TTC, and help you achieve your overall fertility goals. Below, you’ll learn why the pandemic may be impacting your cycles, as well as some tips on how you can best cycle track. You’ll also hear from someone who not only found tracking to be helpful for her irregular cycles, but it played an important role in her becoming pregnant!
Why is the Pandemic Impacting My Cycle?
The pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives, from our work to our interaction with family and friends, and even hobbies. Unfortunately, it’s also playing a role in our menstrual cycles. Of the women surveyed in the study mentioned above, it is believed that the participants who experienced increased stress over the last two years were more likely to experience changes to their period. According to lead and corresponding author research assistant professor Nicole Woitowich, “We know added stress can negatively impact our overall health and well-being, but for women and people who menstruate, stress can also disrupt normal menstrual cycle patterns and overall reproductive health.”
In addition, as women are reporting changes in their menstrual cycles following the COVID-19 vaccine, studies backed by funding from the National Institutes of Health are planning to examine any possible connections between vaccination and irregular menstruation, as well.
Tips for Tracking Your Cycle
TTC can be hard enough without the added worry of the pandemic causing irregularities in your cycle. However, being able to predict certain cycle patterns will help you better identify when is the best time for babydancing. If you’re new to the cycle-tracking game, don’t fret! We know that it can be challenging to navigate. To help, Fempower Health podcast founder and host Georgie Kovacs is sharing some tips for optimizing tracking your cycle – check them out!
Be Proactive, But Patient, with Tracking
I see time and time again women posting Basal Body Temperature (BBT) charts on Facebook concerned about whether they ovulated or if their app is working. Remember, the BBT tracking alone shows ovulation after the thermal shift, while Core Body Temperature (CBT) can alert you earlier in your cycle. The only way to know about ovulation in advance is via a change in cervical mucus and cervix position. However, egg white cervical mucus is driven by an estrogen surge, which may happen in absence of ovulation. Additionally, women who had cryosurgery or cone biopsies may not produce cervical fluid. As a result, apps like OvuSense, focus on your unique temperature pattern and often improve as they begin to learn your cycle indicators.
Your BBT Chart Tells You More Than “You Ovulated”
The day we call these apps “women’s health tracking” instead of “fertility tracking,” is the day I know women’s health is transforming in the right direction. Yes, a woman’s body is made to create babies. However, while not every woman wants a baby, a normal menstrual cycle is one indication of overall health. Trends in BBT charts can provide experts clues should a cycle be off.
I like that OvuSense – which measures CBT – is appropriate for women with PCOS because not all cycle tracking apps can support women with this condition. Other information your chart can help you understand includes potential reasons for mid-cycle spotting, thyroid problems, or potential miscarriage.
Have a Balanced Perspective
It thrills me to see women sharing their temperature charts and stories. However, please know that the information you read is simply that – information. Think of it as another data point to remind you to keep tracking. Outside of fundamentals such as the range of days for a healthy menstrual cycle, the range for healthy period flow, or the types of hormones that rise and fall in a given cycle, the rest means something different for each woman.
One woman’s faint positive pregnancy test can be a chemical pregnancy while another’s can mean it is an early sign of a pregnancy that goes full term. One woman’s unclear cCBT chart could be the first cycle on OvuSense and it turns out the next day she ovulated but forgot to post, or it could be her 10th cycle using an app and she has PCOS so her cycles are long.
How Cycle Tracking Helped Lisa
Like many women, Lisa started using birth control as a teenager to cope with uncomfortable and irregular periods. While this did mask her symptoms and made her cycle appear regular, later in her teen years, she was told she had PCOS.
Fast forward almost a decade to 2018 when Lisa and her husband were ready to start trying for a family. Knowing her background, Lisa immediately went to have her PCOS diagnosis confirmed. As a nurse, she knew this would make getting pregnant more challenging, and was disappointed when multiple cysts on her ovaries confirmed she had PCOS.
After trying naturally without any type of formal cycle tracking for months, Lisa decided to try OvuSense. Using the device, she saw just how long her cycles were – over five months, she only had three menstrual cycles! But three cycles with OvuSense was all it took, and Lisa became pregnant.
Get Your Cycle on Track with OvuFirst
If you have experienced cycle changes over the past two years, try not to get discouraged. Tracking your cycle can provide you with all of the answers you need to achieve your fertility goals. After all, the more you know about your cycle, the better prepared you can be. The knowledge you learn from cycle tracking will help to reduce stress around babymaking – giving you more control over your fertility journey.
Interested in learning more about your cycle? OvuFirst, the most accurate skin-worn sensor on the market, can help by confirming your fertile window with over 90% accuracy. It is designed to measure skin temperature and provide women with an understanding of when to try and conceive, and help determine what issues they may be having during the process of starting or growing a family. To find answers and gain better control over your fertility goals, get to tracking with OvuFirst today.