Saturday, June 13, 2020

An empowering Beginner's Guide to Cycle Syncing (a precursor to NFP)

Dear Reader, 

Like many, many other women in America, I find the lack of open, clear and empathetic education regarding menstrual cycles alarming.  It's not (often) discussed in schools, and culturally speaking, is seen as something to whisper about - but not discuss openly.  Which of course leaves girls and women confused and sometimes even ashamed to raise concerns or questions about their cycles.

This is why I am writing a post about it.  To break through that silence, and help women feel empowered by discovering cycle syncing - what that means, why it helps us look within, and is a great precursor to learning about natural family planning (NFP).  Because when we remove the stigma, when we strip away the cultural shaming around it, we can discover the natural beauty behind a women's fertility.

But first, pin this image for future reference:

bohemian catholic empowering beginner guide cycle syncing nfp women health

So what is cycle syncing?  Basically it's recognizing that different phases of our cycle will require different responses - anything from lifestyle, to diet, to activity levels.  Some of these can even provide some relief for the common culprits of uncomfortable cycle concerns: PMS, pain, acne, cravings, and mood changes.
But before you can make habitual changes around your cycle - you need to first understand what your cycle is.
A cycle is not just the time of your period, but the circular pattern before and after, the phases of a women's fertility.  In ancient times, people often compared this to the moon - did you know the Latin word, menses means month?  And that the root word for moon was used in ancient times to describe one month (note the "mo" root of both words.  But for the etymology of the word, read this).  The point is that in ancient times, a woman's cycle was easily compared to the moon - both on average were 29 days from beginning to end.  They waxed and waned. 
It's no wonder that the moon served as symbol of a women's fertility from ancient times to even now.
It's one beautiful way to show the grand design of God's creations . . . but that doesn't mean that we do not need to make some adjustments (and in some cases, rely on medical help).  In fact, I myself have mild endometriosis - so please know that I would never wish to imply that all women can do cycle syncing and suddenly they are 'all better'.  What I am hoping to point out is that as a culture we have fallen out of balance from being tuned into our bodies, and that once we are able to read it again we might be pleasantly surprised by how tuned in we can become - and find ourselves empowered through that knowledge.

bohemian catholic cycle syncing moon picture

Of course what does learning about a women's fertility cycle have to do with Catholicism?  After all, isn't the Church considered "backwards" when it comes to a women's reproductive issues?  Well not quite - you can read a bit more about "How the Catholic Church Embraces the Feminine" here.  But to point out, the Catholic Church issued the Humane Vitae fifty years ago, as a response to the free love movement, and helped solidify Natural Family Planning (though frankly, it's been around for far longer than that!).  Today, most parishes offer classes for women to understand their cycles, chart them, and use them for family spacing without having a barrier between the couple (i.e. no birth control, unless medically necessary to treat a condition).  And over and over again, NFP has been ranked (when done accurately) as just as good as birth control with a 95% success rate in preventing pregnancy (source).

And the first step to natural family planning is to understand the basics of your cycle, so you can chart your temps, cervical position, and cervical mucus to know what phase of your cycle you are in (and then either try, or prevent, pregnancy).  But what cycle syncing does is take it a step farther by helping a woman not only know when she is most fertile (or not), but offer more of an atunement by adapting lifestyle changes to these phases.

Below is a fantastic PDF file I got from (scroll to the bottom of this post to see a direct link to their site as well as why I'm including them in the "read more" - hint a free ebook, as well as a "period box").  This is a wonderful printable to show you the overview of each phase, what it's called, what it means, and how to adjust diet and activity level accordingly:

bohemian catholic cycle syncing phases moon menses

Don't you love how a picture of the moon was used?  Tying into that whole menses/moon cycle of a woman's body ;)

I think once you learn more about what a woman's body does each cycle, you might feel empowered by that knowledge and recognize God's design working within you.  Unless of course there's something that needs to be addressed, you might even be able to use some of the cycle syncing knowledge to relieve a slew of symptoms. 
So though on the surface, it might seem like a boho lifestyle, and Catholicism are on opposite spectrum's, their desire for a woman to understand her natural fertility is absolutely aligned. 
Speaking of natural living - and before you go - I will also suggest looking into natural period options (link below, courtesy of Hello Giggles).  I'm referring to sustainable, green living, boho options that make some people go, "Ew".  There's so many wonderful options (period panties, cotton pads, menstrual cups, etc.) that are both good for the Earth, but also good for the woman (toxic shock syndrome, anyone?).

Personally, I lovedddd using my menstrual cup for almost two years, but sadly the endometriosis does not allow me to anymore.  So instead I use organic pads with proceeds going to charities for women - my favorite is "L" which gives a package to a woman of need, for every package purchased (link).  But I am considering using thinx underwear, or 100% cotton pads in the near future (maybe I'll make a review post?).

Alright, so finally was there anything about cycle syncing that you learned?  Was there anything surprising?  Is there a green living option for your period you are considering?  Feel free to leave a comment :)

If you'd like to read more about the subject, check out some of these links:

Best foods to eat for each phase of your cycle (and why) via the glowing fridge [ LINK ]

Cycle Syncing Cheat Sheet (with extra links) via thyme-is-honey [ LINK ]

A 12 week subscription service (not affiliated) with a great website and FREE e-book to dive into what cycle syncing is via my moonbox [ LINK ]

10 Menstrual Hygiene Products (created and run by women) via hello giggles [ LINK ]

This wonderful Catholic lady, Christina (aka "SummaMama" on Instagram/website), who not only is a speaker, and runs some NFP workshops, but teaches mothers/daughters classes about discussing cycles (perfect for ages 9-13).  Please check out her website here [ LINK ]

Here's an easy to read, seven point summary of Humanae Vitae [ LINK ]

Directory of NFP classes via the United States Catholic Bishop's [ LINK ]

Much love

Stock Image Source Credit: Max Ravier via

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