The Menstrual Cycle As Vital Sign
What Counts As a Vital Sign?
Vital signs give you clues about the overall state of your health by making comparisons between certain data points (ie. normal ranges for temperature, heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure). For example, if someone has a high temperature compared to what is considered normal (fever), it indicates a health problem that is investigated in order to find the issue and try to fix it.
The same thing can be done with the menstrual cycle. You can collect certain data and putting it onto a symptothermal chart.
With the chart, it’s possible to identify potential health issues without even experiencing any symptoms, which helps you to actively prevent problems before your quality of life is affected.
Here are the average phases of a healthy menstrual cycle:
- Menstruation: 3-4 days of moderate red flow, then 1 or 2 days of light flow or pink spotting;
3-5 days without any cervical mucus at the vulva with a definite sensation of dryness;
5-6 days with cervical mucus that gradually becomes more transparent (which is a sign of increasing estrogen);
12-16 days of sustained high temperatures after the Peak Day of cervical mucus.
If you notice anything unusual during these phases, that could indicate a hormonal imbalance, a deficiency of estrogen or progesterone, or possibly thyroid dysfunction.
Here are some signs that could indicate dysfunction of the reproductive system:
Absence of ovulation each month;
Absence of cervical mucus;
Two to three days of spotting before menstruation;
Basal body temperatures under 36.2°C;
Severe premenstrual symptoms: irritability, depression, anxiety, insomnia, bloat and sudden weight gain, breast sensitivity, increased appetite and sugar cravings (note that this is only PMS if these symptoms occur only at the end of the cycle and are not present at other times);
Luteal phase that is less than 10 days long.
It’s suggested that you consult a health professional if any of these symptoms appear, as they can have negative effects not only on the reproductive system, but also on other systems in your body.
Users of hormonal birth control do not have the benefit of this important information. With hormonal birth control, the hormonal interaction between the ovaries and the command structures in the brain is replaced by artificial hormones administered in a uniform manner.
The Symptothermal Chart Is A Useful Tool For Health Professionals
While consulting a symptothermal chart, a health professional can identify which hormones are imbalanced because of the signs observed. It’s also possible to give the appropriate treatment at just the right moment of the cycle instead of just giving a contraceptive pill that can be taken any time and masks signs that could be used to improve your reproductive health.
Additionally, charting allows you to see the effects of any treatments during each menstrual cycle.
It’s important to note that for some issues that occur frequently during adolescence (like irregular cycles or menstrual pain) the birth control pill is often prescribed. However, your health issues will return as soon as you stop taking it. This type of treatment does not investigate or treat underlying causes, but rather masks the problem by only addressing the symptoms.