The Fifth Vital Sign — Our Menstrual Cycle
Lisa Hendrickson-Jack is a certified Fertility Awareness Educator, Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner, and author of The Fifth Vital Sign. She joins the show today to speak with Hillary about using Fertility Awareness as a primary method of birth control, ovulation as a health marker, important things to know about hormone birth control, and an evidence-based approach as to how to set ourselves up for success when it comes to our menstrual cycle and fertility tracking. They discuss the realities of the public education system regarding this topic, hear more about her Fertility Friday Podcast, and ways in which women can connect more with their cycle and fertility.
[7:11] Lisa herself didn’t discover fertility awareness until about age 18 or 19, and even after that, there has been very little that has progressed in terms of teaching about menstruation and fertility in the public education system.
[9:12] Woman are often made to feel as though the menstrual cycle is something dirty or a nuisance that must be stopped or contained. Their concerns are dismissed and side effects which can be very serious and painful are diminished.
[12:26] Our ovulation is a marker of our health. In the same way that we have come to learn more about men’s health and their fertility being intertwined, Lisa and Hillary hope the same for the near future regarding ovulation and women’s health.
[15:58] Menstruation is a vital sign of what our body needs, how it is doing and is connected to many layers of health.
[24:54] The hormonal birth control pill stops ovulation to some degree, which dramatically reduces the natural production of our bodies estrogen and progesterone, and affects our free testosterone.
[27:02] Although how it plays out is different in everyone, all women who take hormonal birth control do experience effects in their hormones and organs.
[28:54] It is important for women to be upfront and aware of the side effects of the hormone birth control pill. Depression is a big one, along with mood swings.
[29:41] Research shows that hormonal birth control is associated with a temporary delay in the return of normal fertility. The shot is the worst offender, with other methods falling in after.
[33:56] Some women may hear about the side effects of hormonal birth control and decide it’s not for them, while others decide they will still use it but modify the use. Whatever choice that works best for you is the right one, but it’s important to be informed and aware.
[37:16] Birth control stops your normal cycle and replaces it with a fake one, but it doesn’t address or fix the real root of irregular menstrual cycles.
[45:12] Since birth control shrinks the ovaries, there is an established delay between when we come off birth control and when our body is normalized and fertile.
[52:35] There are many options for tracking our menstrual cycle and fertility. Because there is only about one week out of the month we can get pregnant, knowing this fact alone can be a total game changer.
[60:30] Devices such as wearable thermometers can be very helpful, but nothing trumps fertility awareness and training from a professional instructor. Much like learning to drive a car, it is a one-time investment that can lead to years of knowledge and empowerment.
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Special Thanks to Christopher Lloyd Clarke for music
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