Friday, September 2, 2011

Some More on Menstruation and Its Affects on Climate Change

        It has been some time since I've written. This is chiefly owing to the fact that after writing two posts back-to-back, the public (although always delighted with me) may have begun to think that I had nothing better to do with my time than writing about my ovaries. This would have given them the wrong impression of me. I do have other things to do with my time. I am infinitely cool, have several friends, and I never once spent a week practicing (and recording) introductions of myself to others so that I could understand what it was that I was doing wrong at the beginnings of so many failed friendships. This never happened because I already have several friends. I have no failed friendships. For this reason, I didn't want to write too much, lest you got the wrong idea.
      In addition to not writing, I haven't really been tracking my cycle, either, which of course, was the reason I began writing this blog in the first place. To me, its kind of unfortunate that all young women are not taught how to do this in their "tweens" (a really cool word that was invented after small plastic containers of roll-on glitter, faux diamond studded bellbottom jeans with built-in belts, and Ashley Olsen came together in a secret conclave, and after three days of much debate, finally decided the English Language was lacking. Their solution, which came after another three days of even more debate, was the word "tweens.") Really though, to get back on track, women should know how to tell when their fertile! Growing up--and even recently, I had heard at least a dozen ways (mostly in contradiction with eachother) to tell when ovulation was occurring. These ranged from "feeling a slight pain in the lower abdomen" to "slaughtering and eating a horse from a nearby farm." How was I to know when I was fertile if I didn't live near a farm? I would wonder, as I sat looking at maps, considering a move to a more rural area. Thus began my quest to track my menstrual cycle and share my findings with the world.
       My intentions were good in this respect, but my resolve was lacking. You see, yesterday I moved to Russia--Siberia--to be specific, and after a day here, I have found the trip to be infinitely more interesting to read and write about than the many different facets of a good discharge on a Sunday afternoon. So here's the deal: I'll write a few things about tracking the menstrual cycle in this blog (most of it is so do-it-yourself that there's really nothing to write about regularly anyways) and then from here on out, my blogs will be about Russia. If I figure out how to upload pictures and add some aesthetics to this thing, then we'll really have a reason to take off our headgear and party. (There's a link there but it won't let me put it in red).
       So here are the basics:
The first day of bleeding is day one of a cycle, and as you know, cycles differ in duration for every woman. The first few months of tracking may just let you know whether or not you have the same length every time. Ovulation occurs 12 to 16 days before the next cycle. (so you could be ovulating while you're perioding if you have really long periods and really short cycles). An egg can be fertilized in a 12-24 hour period of time. (In other words, you ovulate 24 hours at most.) Because sperm can live in the body for up to five days, the window of time when a woman can conceive is a little bit longer. Here are some signs of ovulation:

   • Change in cervical fluid
   • Change in cervical position and cervical firmness (Yes, I just wrote cervical firmness.)
   • Brief twinge of pain or dull ache that is felt on one side of the abdomen (I think it switches sides every month, but I'm not sure. You can look it up if you want. I don't feel like it right now.)
   • Increase in sex drive
   • Body temperature chart that shows a consistent change
   • Breast tenderness (Again, yes I did say breast tenderness, if you have any other questions, you know how to reach me.)   
   • Heightened sense of vision, smell or taste. (Totally cool, and I actually notice this one, especially with smells, but sometimes with tastes too)
     And those are the facts. As you can see they're pretty vague which is why its kind of important to know you're body and understand the signs its giving you. I keep a health journal. In it I write how I feel when I wake up (emotionally and physically), how much I have slept, what I have eaten during the day, how much I ran, and how much water I'm drinking. This is all for the purpose of being aware of my general well being. I also write my weight, where I am in my cycle (what day), and anything I notice occurring in my body, especially things that relate to the above list. (The fun part is noticing what sort of people I find attractive at different times in my cycle. Maybe you'll enjoy paying attention to that when you track as well, right boooyyyssss?) I don't keep track of my temperature, for the simple reason that I couldn't find a thermometer until like a week before I left home, and I didn't want to buy one because I knew we had one in the house. Although I've heard the temperature is the dead giveaway for most people who are trying to determine when they are fertile. This was of less importance to me because ovulation isn't really the main thing I'm "looking for" by doing this. I'm not tracking my cycle to prevent pregnancies (unless, of course, you can become pregnant by writing in your diary, wearing too much headgear (the orthodontic kind) for recreational purposes, or listening to Ani DeFranco while crying, in which case, I really will need to start taking more preventative measures). Seriously though, I track my cycle for a better understanding of my body, and actually, I think all women should. (This part is funny for those who remember from the top of the page that I'm not even doing it now. Oops.)
         Our mood, and consequently our behavior, are always under the influence of a thousand different forces at a given time. The music we listen to, the people around us, the places we live, and many other things are constantly affecting who we are and how we treat those around us. Some of these forces we can choose, but some (like the menstrual cycle) are simply something we are kind of just subject to. For this reason, I think its important to be aware of what is taking place within your body, so that you at least have a sense of what you're working with.
       I say "working with" rather than "up against" because I truly believe this is a quality of the female experience that we should work with, and not against. Perhaps a week before your period you feel a little bit surly, and you want to be alone a lot. (In addition to that, you consider eating anything that even closely resembles chocolate, including the really tan pastor of your church.) Well, the surliness you can do without, but there's no reason why you can't turn the desire for alone time into something really positive. I think that there is a great opportunity within the menstrual cycle to embrace every aspect of one's personality. No woman is only rambunctious, only solitary, or only ravenously in need of ice cream and cheesy romcom adaptations of Jane Austen novels starring Hugh Grant. We are each so much more than these qualities, which, for whatever reason, we get in the habit of associating with ourselves. By tracking your cycle, maybe you can give vent to sides of you that you are not in the habit of embracing. In this way, you can make something that has previously held you back, extremely productive. That's all for now folks.

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