Before we dive in: What is cycle charting?
Cycle charting is the practice of journaling how you’re feeling mentally, physically and spiritually each day with the hope of discovering monthly patterns in your behaviour and emotions, as dictated by your menstrual cycle. (If you don’t have an active cycle, stick with me!)
The word “charting” makes this whole practice sound a lot scarier and time consuming than it actually is, I promise. Let’s rebrand it and say you’re going to keep a daily log.
Step one is figuring out what cycle day you are currently on! The first day of your cycle is the first day of heavy bleeding during your period. From there, just count up. Now you know what cycle day you’re on!
My friends who do not currently have an active or consistent cycle, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or are menopausal — please don’t worry. You will use the lunar cycle to do your charting since the Moon matches the average woman’s menstrual cycle.
Please note: If you are breastfeeding, you’re likely in an extended pre-ovulatory phase. You may not notice massive fluctuations, but do still get in the habit of connecting to your body and charting your findings.
Also, keep an eye out for cervical mucus (it’ll feel moist or slippery/stretchy when you wipe after you pee). This indicates ovulation is approaching or happening! If you don’t want to become pregnant quite yet, be vigilant. You ovulate before you bleed.
I use the Moon app to track the lunar cycle. Within that app, you’re told what cycle day the Moon is on. Even though women bleed throughout the Moon’s natural rotation, you can use the Full Moon to reflect ovulation, and the New Moon to reflect menstruation.
If you’re on birth control, use the Moon’s cycle as a framework to add structure to your life month over month. Chart using whatever day the Moon is on, so after a few months of tracking you can compare those cycle days to each other.
Your findings may be a bit muted or unique if you’re on birth control (your hormones aren’t properly activated, you’re likely not ovulating, and your period is probably just a withdrawal bleed), but I know firsthand that you can still notice cyclical patterns.
Now, there are a few ways you can store your findings!
My best advice would be to choose whichever method will be most sustainable to you, because it is important to check-in with yourself daily. Will you fail if you miss a day? Absolutely not. But you will be able to see more patterns over time, and that’s what we’re looking for!
The option I use isn’t very Instagram-worthy, but it’s easy! In the Notes app on my phone, I’ve created a “note” for every day in my cycle. Within each note, I write the month and year, and then my findings. That way, when I’m feeling off on a specific day, I can open the matching “note” and see if it’s a consistent pattern related to my cycle.
Another option would be writing your findings down with pen and paper. Some people add this to their regular journal, and some use their daytimer. You can still flip back through to compare days, it’s just a more manual and intimate process. Bonus points if you use a red pen on the days you’re bleeding!
The most aesthetic option (and one that makes it easy to compare your cycle month over month) is to print my free cycle charts! I commissioned an artist to create a traditional circular chart, and a linear version if that feels more comfortable to write in. There’s even a blank linear version if your cycle is longer than 30 days! You can download them here.
You can also use a period app like Clue! They are easy to use, but may limit what you can track. Writing your own unique observations down somewhere is always best.
And that’s it. Seriously.
After about three months, you’ll be able to compare your cycle days and see if you have regularly occurring emotions, worries, or desires. From there, you’ll be able to predict what you will need ahead of time and how your partner or family can support you throughout your menstrual cycle.
The awareness and mental clarity you’ll gain when you realize how much our hormones influence will be life-changing, I promise.
I hosted a free workshop in August 2022 all about How to Chart Your Cycle. If you’re more of a visual learner (or if you just want to see my friendly face) you can watch it now.
Click here to gain access to the video and watch now!
It’s time, my friend! I suggest doing your daily log right now, just so you can see how quick the process truly is (it’ll take three minutes max!)