The fertility awareness method and charting one’s menstrual cycle is making a rise in popularity but the majority of women still chart to conceive or use it as natural contraception. So, that would naturally screen out lesbians, right?
In a blog published earlier this year, we learned why charting is good for every woman’s health—lesbians included. As a women and a lesbian, I have found charting not only to be empowering, but a huge aspect of my personal healing journey. No, I didn’t have one of the epidemic hormonal diseases among women today—endometriosis, PCOS, and hypothyroidism—however, I had a equally painful and tragic story that could have been prevented had I learned about and starting charting in middle school.
I was one of those girls who thought a menstrual cycle that included heavy bleeding, vomiting, and debilitating cramps was normal. At age 13, I was put on the toxic birth control pill Yaz to control my volatile cycle and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which included anxiety, depression, irritability, extreme back pain, et cetera.
If only I knew then that my body was screaming at me to just listen to it, perhaps I would have realized then that my “healthy” fat-free, vegetarian diet wasn’t working for me. Instead, I spent years on pharmaceuticals after a bi-polar diagnosis and continual hormone supplementation. That was until enough was enough.
The journey from who I was then to who I am now is a story for another time. What is important about my experience is I could have prevented years of pain, depression, and illness had I know charting could have helped me and this is why:
Moreover, it only takes a quick Google search to find that fats are the building blocks for sex hormones and are required to absorb minerals and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. If I knew that my low-fat diet and gut dysbiosis (belly troubles) could be the reason I was so sick, I could have incorporated high quality fats, animal protein, and probiotics into my diet as a start to balance my hormones and my brain.
But no one told me this, not even my nutritionist. If I would have been charting during this time, I know I would have clearly seen a hormonal imbalance.
Once I finally decided to stop taking birth control, I knew it would take a while for my cycles to return to normal. However during this time I went to live abroad in Brazil for six months, then moved in with my aunt’s family (with my 2 and 5-year-old cousins) across the country for my senior year of high school, spent the year applying and visiting colleges, and just put my body in a constant state of change and stress.
If I would have know that my six cycles in 32 months coupled with a 7-day heavy flow and brown bleeding trailing every period was an indication for wacked out hormones (low progesterone and potentially PCOS or hypothyroid), that could have also saved me from a lot of pain during my late adolescence and early adulthood, as well.
I was a highly competitive cheerleader and dancer throughout my teenage years. That meant 5-6 times a week of 2-3 hour-long, intensive practices.
Excessive exercise like this can deplete progesterone levels and cause a number of issues. The laundry list of symptoms that I experienced before I took charge of my reproductive health included:
Though I looked healthy on the outside, my body was a mess on the inside.
Obviously, not all lesbians have horrible periods, hormonal imbalances, or infertility problems, but as women, our vaginas are the secret door to so many of our health problems. The amount, color, and length of our cycles can predict our hormonal imbalances that can progress into debilitating pain and life-threatening disease. Our premenstrual and menstrual symptoms that at times require us to miss work, say things that hurt others, or eat things that make us feel crappy are really clues into what our bodies’ desire. Plus, our basal body temperature and cervical fluid can reflect whether we are ovulating normally and able to have babies one day, if that is a desire of yours or not.
We already have the deck stacked against us when it comes to our mental and physical health and starting our families, but charting can be a way to empower ourselves and take back our health, our happiness, and our futures into our own hands.
Kodiak Soled, aka the Maternity Maven, supports expectant and new mamas with a mindful and Real Food approach to nutrition and holistic medicine. She has studied proven traditional practices and protocols as well as modern scientific research and medicine, which has resulted in her safe and effective, systematic approach to maternal and reproductive health. She supports mamas all over the world with her 6-Step Transformational Approach, which includes: nutrition therapy, botanical medicine, food-based supplements, stress management, lifestyle changes, and community building. Kodiak has dedicated her life to supporting women transitioning into motherhood because she deeply believes nourished mothers raise nourished children who grow up and change the world. Learn more on my website, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.