When I was growing up, George visited our home every four weeks. That name would constantly be scrawled across the calendar in my Mother’s handwriting. I never noticed these visitations.
When I was twelve, Mum sat me down to explain what ‘George’ meant.
It was the code word she used for her period.
My friend’s Mothers were much less subtle in their code. My closest high school gal pal revealed her Mum’s gang of friends used to call it ‘falling off the roof’. I like that better than ‘George’.
Over the years, the old menstrual cycle has undergone many name changes from the mouths of freshly pubescent girls and awkward Mothers: The Crimson Tide, Aunt Flow, Shark Week, My Lady Thing, That-Time-Of-The-Month, Uterus Punch, I’m-Wearing-Trackpants-And-Eating-The-Universe-And-I-Don’t-Care-Week…the list goes on. We’re not here to discuss code today, though, but three reasons why you should track your monthly cycle.
- Knowing when you may be emotionally unstable helps relationships and recovery
Most people are aware that the increased levels of a woman’s rage, malice, depression, anxiety and emotion directly correspond to the time of menstruation. The intensity of the physical and hormonal changes that can cause this varies among women. Some don’t even notice the changes and go on with daily life, whilst others are left crying into their extra-large lasagne over the Biggest Loser Finale. Different women struggle at different stages of the cycle. It is not a simple science! Do you know where you sit on the spectrum of lady pain?
Tracking your period can prepare you and your loved ones for a bit of instability, and help you identify your personal struggle-spots and symptoms. With the wisdom that comes from preparedness, you can identify whether the world really is crumbling around you, or if you just need to eat some almonds and have a nap. This is helpful for any woman, but particularly for those struggling with sexual addiction. Low mood is a major trigger for sexually acting out. It’s a quick and fleeting fix for stress. Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) is enough to cause a meltdown on its own; add to that the stressors of everyday life and underlying trauma, and the risk of giving up your sobriety is through the roof. Be prepared with prayer, rest, self-care, accountability and self-awareness. Be serious about the rest and self-care. It is very much a part of recovery. It is not optional.
- Knowing when you may be physically unwell can save you a Web MD fiasco and boost your chances of staying addiction free
Have you ever googled symptoms of a common cold and discovered you actually had brain cancer and diabetes? Guilty. When you’re ovulating and menstruating, your body is under stress, and extra sensitive. Your immunity is low, and it’s very common to get a small cold, aches, pains, sickness, pimples, crazy dreams (of the nightmare or sexual type) and other weird bodily surprises. Instead of letting these little setbacks catch you off guard, keep a record of your cycle to allow yourself adequate rest and understanding. Again, like low mood, general physical weakness is a significant trigger for a sex or porn splurge (So, take the advice to rest and look after your body seriously. If this means taking a day off work, ministry or social activities, do it. Your recovery is worth it.) Arousal overrides your brain’s threat and pain detection systems, allowing a few moments of escape. This is not healing or lasting though and sets you up with poor coping mechanisms for the future. When your body feels out of whack, it’s time to get your accountability partner in the loop and warn her of immanent temptation. Work together to put extra precautions in place such as meeting together more regularly, having a late night movie sesh, praying or sharing daily encouragement. Work out what is helpful for you, and do it.
- Tracking your period allows you to predict sexual temptation
I studied agriculture in High School. We spent an entire term learning about the reproductive system of cows. Riveting stuff. But I must say it has finally come in handy for this blog. Human women don’t go into ‘heat’ like our four-legged friends. We are interested in sex and can reproduce all year around. However, a woman’s time of fertility comes around once a month, during ovulation. This is an approximately six-day window where she can get pregnant. Officially, this is called this the ‘fertile window’. I call it the ‘temptation window’. If you’ve ever worked on a farm, you’ll know that when animals are in ‘heat’ (their fertile time) they go a little sex-crazy and start participating in weird behaviours. Not that I’m calling you a cow, but there are some similarities! Like in the animal kingdom, our biological purpose is to reproduce. Our wonderfully made bodies know this, and hit us with a boost of testosterone and other hormones (read: a big dose of sex drive) to encourage us to get pregnant.
It is so important to prepare yourself for this week. You are going to have sex on the mind. Just like preparing yourself for emotional and physical instability with accountability, being open about your temptation window is vital.
After the first “Hey girl, I’m fertile this week” text, it gets less awkward.
I’m not going to pretend to be an expert, just a girl with internet access, a period tracking app and a uterus. I know there are many variations and struggles in women’s bodies and I particularly want to say that if you don’t get your period regularly, you are still a beautiful and feminine woman. It is also noteworthy that despite the pretty gruesome picture I’ve painted, women all over the globe have achieved wonderful physical, emotional and mental feats. Having your period doesn’t make you any less capable than a man. It’s just something to be aware of.
I believe it is absolutely vital for women to keep a record of and know their cycle. It is even more important for the recovering woman. As I said previously, different struggles and joys come at different times for us all, but generally, ovulation (about two weeks before menstruation) and the week of menstruation are the toughest to face.
I recommend P tracker lite (for iphone and android). It’s discreet and clearly shows your fertile window, day of ovulation, and predicted start date. It also allows space to track a host of symptoms and personal notes, as well as ‘intimacy’, which for the single ladies, could be used to track ‘bottom line’ behaviours (e.g using porn, acting out). This system is very helpful for gauging patterns but does take a few months of tracking to become really accurate. I say it’s worth it!