“No, you’re not crazy!”
I have said this statement, most especially to women, about 2843820 times. Literally.
In my time as a FertilityCare Practitioner (FCP) with the Creighton Model System (CrMS), I said this. A LOT. I would be sitting there, reviewing a woman’s chart (more to come on this soon) with her or with her and her fiancee/husband, and she would look at me and realize that there was a real reason why she felt overwhelmed on certain days. A real reason why she had trouble sleeping. A real reason why she felt depressed. Or why she felt like she wanted to eat EVERYTHING in sight. Or why she just wanted to cry for seemingly no reason.
A typical conversation would go something like this:
Woman: “So you’re saying that my hormones may be the reason why I feel this way? …you’re telling me that I’m not making this up. …because sometimes I feel crazy. Or just off.”
Me: “No, you’re not crazy. Your body is experiencing fluctuations on a biochemical level as your hormone levels (typically including Progesterone) are dropping, and that affects everything, including your emotions.”
Woman: “Oh, wow. Okay.” (…all said while breathing a sigh of relief)
Once they hear of the work I do, women often approach me to ask me questions about their fertility. (I’ll share funny stories soon. Let’s just say that I prefer to know your name when I first meet you, especially before you start describing your cervical mucus to me. …but to each her own, hahaha.).
The #1 resource I recommend in tandem with tracking your cycle is a PMS Symptom Chart. In my time working at Hope Woman’s Clinic as a Creighton Model Practitioner, we would offer these to our clients to use in tandem with their charts. Even if you use an app, I recommend tracking your PMS symptoms throughout your cycle. I will elaborate more soon on how charting works and why I think that every woman should track her cycle in some way. For now, I just wanted to share with you a tool that I have found helpful, both personally and professionally.
Yes, this requires discipline. Yes, this requires paying attention.
I just want to say, though, that you are worth it. You’re worth the time it takes (30-60 seconds) to mark this chart and monitor the symptoms you experience throughout the month. Maybe you won’t do it for forever. There are seasons in life, and some are more conducive to something like this. But why not try it for a month or two?
To help you along, here are two reasons why I think this is important and helpful.
1.) Self-Knowledge: To know yourself includes knowing and understanding the gift of your body and how it works. I will be writing many more posts specifically about this topic, but I just wanted to offer this simple tool to you today. Keep posted for more, but simply put, this is a tool that can help you to track some of the physical symptoms you are experiencing. They may be connected to your cycle; they may not be. But the only way to begin to find that out is by paying attention. So here is a little tool to help you pay attention to what you’re feeling. (And yes, how you feel physically affects everything: mood, spiritual life, energy, relationships, decision-making, etc. We are body-soul composite, and what a gift that is! Just give it a try!)
2.) Your Health: If these symptoms are actually connected to underlying issues within your cycle, they can help your doctor to understand better what is going on underneath the surface. A tool such as this helps you to monitor what your symptoms are, how severe they are, and how long they last. All three of these things are important when trying to understand what your body is trying to tell you.
So here you are, a PMS Symptom Chart! ::cue celebratory trumpet blasts::
Feel free to print it out or just to use it as a guide for what to look for and how to monitor your symptoms. Happy Tracking!
Note: Day 1 is Day 1 of your cycle, meaning the first day your period begins.
***Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and am not here to diagnose you. I am just speaking from experience as a practitioner who works with women and doctors to help them understand what is actually going on within a woman’s body. This tool can help you to navigate your health. PMS is normal for 2-3 days before you begin your cycle, and it should be something that does not interfere greatly with your day-to-day activities. If you experience PMS symptoms for more than 2-3 days and/or with a severity that disables you or keeps you from living your life as normal, please consult a physician. Because of its foundation in science and the options available with medical protocols, charting with the Creighton Model System is the first step I would recommend. See here for more details of the science behind it. Contact Hope Woman’s Clinic if you are interested in more information and in getting started with a FertilityCare Center near you!