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The Significance of the Menstrual Cycle as a Vital Health Marker

One of the coolest things about being a female is your unique piece of biofeedback that is the menstrual cycle. You can track your cycles to not only gain some insight on your overall health, but also take empowered action should changes arise. 

You’ve probably heard about “vital signs,” and in 2024, you (or your devices) might be tracking some of the markers already. Body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate are what are traditionally thought of as vital signs, as they give us indication of medical problems and reflect your health status. 

If you are a female, we would like to add the menstrual cycle to this list (and we aren’t the first to suggest it! ) because of the abundance of insight that can be gained by paying attention to your period, cycle length and fertility signs. That’s right, tracking your cycle isn’t just about counting calendar days to make sure you have enough tampons in the house for when Aunt Flo comes to visit.  It’s a way to identify which phase of your cycle you’re in, prevent or plan pregnancy AND gain insight on what is going on with your internal health as whole. 

Fertile health is about a lot more than just making babies.  By including the menstrual cycle as a vital sign, we highlight the importance of a hormonal axis that is working in harmony for our overall health and longevity! 

Changes to your menstrual cycle such as abnormal uterine bleeding, pain or the absence of your period entirely could be a signal that something is off with your health as a whole, not just your reproductive functions.

This is often due to hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis disturbances.  The HPO axis is a tightly regulated system controlling reproduction in females . You can think of it as the connection between your brain and ovaries , as hormones and neurotransmitters communicate between these three organs to regulate reproductive processes and ovulation. If any of these organs are not operating properly, or the brain is receiving signals that it is not safe to ovulate and reproduce (examples: caloric restriction, poor sleep, emotional stress) your cycle can be impacted. 

By noticing any changes to your cycle, and understanding some of these root causes, you can course correct sooner with diet lifestyle or by reaching out to the appropriate provider to get back to a state of optimal health.

A main reason why cycle health is so important to pay attention to is a healthy cycle is how a majority of your impactful female hormones are created.

Estradiol is the main product during follicular maturation and progesterone is the main product in the luteal phase following ovulation. Testosterone is also produced in small amounts by the ovaries. The adrenal glands also produce some estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, however not as robustly as the ovaries in a healthy premenopausal female. There is some more nuance to this that we will cover at length in the future, but for now note that this is largely why ovulation and in turn a regular menstrual cycle are paramount for general health, not just for making a baby. ⁣

You see, these hormones are more than just “sex hormones.” They are steroid hormones and key regulators when it comes to your mood, energy, metabolism, hair and skin, insulin response, muscle building, bone health, cardiovascular health and more! ⁣

This is why during your reproductive years, whether you are wanting to become pregnant in the future or not, aiming to have mostly ovulatory cycles will help ensure optimal health and keep you feeling your best.

Tracking your cycle allows you to start noticing patterns, identifying your normal, and hint to when something is off internally.⁣ 

If you are experiencing longer cycles than normal, missing a period, dealing with debilitating PMS, not consistently ovulating or experiencing any other menstrual abnormalities (don’t worry, we will cover this in the near future), consider it a check engine light from your body. 

Nothing in the body works in isolation. So while you may be experiencing changes to your cycle due to changes to your hormones , there is something often underlying that is causing your hormones to be imbalanced. This is when we will dig deeper into any changes to your lifestyle, diet, stressors and consider testing for infections, nutrient deficiencies or gynecological diseases that could be behind the symptoms or changes you are experiencing. 

The more awareness you have around what a healthy menstrual cycle looks like, the more we can use this important piece of biofeedback to improve your well-being

⁣Consider your cycle to be a free report card every month that reflects your internal health! No lab testing (thought there is a time and place), just observations and tracking variables. ⁣

Curious to explore how a harmonized hormonal axis can transform your well-being?

Continue your journey with us by delving into our blog, or connect with us to discover personalized strategies for empowered health.



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