Cycle Tracking and Irregular Periods
Updated: Sep 28
"I can’t use natural birth control because I have irregular periods.”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard this, you could call me Jean Ralphio because I would be fluuuushed with cash. For real though, I hear this all the time and the truth is that this isn’t true. If you’re interested in cycle tracking or using the sympto-thermal method of natural birth control and you have irregular periods, you absolutely can.
In today’s episode we’ll cover…
>> What causes irregular periods and why you shouldn’t ignore them
>> Why hormonal birth control does NOT fix irregular periods or regulate your cycle
>> Why I think it’s important for women with irregular periods to practice cycle tracking
>> How to use natural birth control if you have irregular cycles
Let’s dive in…
I want to be up front that I know I’m going to catch some heat for this episode. That’s because the conventional western medicine approach for dealing with irregular periods is to quote-unquote regulate them with hormonal birth control. And, I’m about to pretty much advocate for the exact opposite approach. Here’s why…
Hormonal birth control does not regulate your cycle. That is a common and well-executed myth. To understand why that is, we have to understand what causes irregular periods.
Irregular periods are caused by irregular ovulation. And, irregular ovulation is caused by hormonal imbalance. Therefore, irregular periods are caused by hormonal imbalances. This means that our hormones are not operating as they should, something is off, and it needs to be addressed.
Our uterine lining thickens under the presence of estrogen and we need to be shedding it regularly. How does your uterine shed itself, you ask? By having a period. Your period is the shedding of your thickened uterine lining. As for ovulation, it is important for many reasons - one of which is that we only make the calming hormone progesterone after we ovulate up until our period starts. Progesterone is responsible for preventing the uterine lining from getting too thick, for balancing out estrogen, and for having a calming effect. Without adequate progesterone, our periods suck, pms makes us feel like a monster, and when we bleed… we bleed a lot.
When we have irregular periods, we’re not shedding our uterine lining regularly and we’re not ovulating regulating. Something is messed up...
And, hormonal birth control doesn’t fix what is messed up.
Hormonal birth control does not fix irregular periods or regulate your cycle, instead it pushes the underlying hormonal imbalance under the rug by getting rid of your natural hormone cycling. Instead of healing your hormones, it overrides them all together. Hormonal birth control flatlines your hormones, takes away your natural cycling, and doesn’t correct the imbalance that is causing irregular periods. It’s basically a bandaid, and when you rip it off your irregular periods will likely be right there waiting for you.
This is the reason why I am a big fan of cycle tracking for folks with irregular periods. Cycle tracking allows you to pinpoint what’s going on in your cycle, get insight into your realtime hormonal fluctuations, and allows you to identify and, therefore, FIX what is out of balance. By fixing what’s causing irregular periods, your cycle will become regular, and you will be able to ovulate regularly and shed your uterine lining regularly as well. And, as a bonus, healing your hormones and getting a regular cycle makes using the sympto-thermal method of natural birth control just as easy as it would be for anyone else with regular periods.
But, let’s talk for a second about what to do when your cycles haven’t regulated yet.
You’re off of hormonal birth control, nourishing your hormones with the right foods, supplements, and lifestyle shifts to create a regular cycle, and you’re waiting for your cycle to normalize --- what do you do for birth control during that time?
You actually have many non-hormonal birth control options available to you including condoms, diaphragms, the pull-out method, and even the sympto-thermal cycle tracking method.
In fact, I often see folks with irregular cycles choosing to use several methods at one time --- like condoms + pulling out, condoms + diaphragms, or the sympto-thermal method with a combination of condoms, diaphragms, and pulling out.
You’ll notice that I didn’t mention the copper IUD. That’s because it alters the efficacy of cycle tracking by thickening normal cervical fluid and masking any cervical fluid shifts that would normally occur. It also creates a state of inflammation by creating a “hostile” environment for conception. Inflammation can wreak havoc on our bodies and impede regular ovulation -- the exact thing we’re trying to accomplish when working to heal irregular periods. For these reasons, it may not be all that helpful for some folks who are looking to heal irregular cycles.
Using the sympto-thermal method while working to regulate your cycle allows you to have more knowledge about your cycle and more insight into healing as it’s happening.
As for using the method as natural birth control while your cycle is still irregular, it can be done and I see it done all the time -- with women newly off of hormonal birth control or newly postpartum when cycles are almost always irregular for a stretch of time.
The sympto-thermal method has special circumstance rules for these irregular cycle phases to help guide you through making the most confident and effective decisions.
Even with an irregular cycle you will likely show similar signs of fertility like cervical fluid and temperature changes - we just see them happening far less often.
Whereas in a regular cycle we see these shifts monthly, in an irregular cycle where periods only happen every couple of months we would see cervical fluid and temperature changes only once every couple of months -- but we will still see them.
So, you’ve heard it here from a trained fertility awareness instructor - it is possible to use the sympto-thermal method of natural birth control with an irregular cycle, you just have to know what to look for and WHEN to look for it in your unique cycle -- at least until your cycle normalizes which happens by healing the imbalance that is causing irregular cycles in the first place.
If you struggle with irregular periods and are ready to get the to root of what’s going on I’ve got something for you today…
Disclaimer: Brandy Oswald, Sauvage Wellness LLC, and her employees are not doctors, nurses, physicians, psychotherapists, or in anyway licensed medical practitioners and information presented here is to serve as an educational resource and not to be interpreted as: (1) medical advice; (2) a 100% effective birth control option or (3) nutrition or health guidelines. By reading this you acknowledge that you understand that as a specialized form of consulting, coaching is not the same as professional or licensed therapy or medical advice and intervention; and recognize that it is your responsibility to seek such services from a licensed professional. Brandy Oswald is not a medical provider and cannot give medical advice. All information provided by Sauvage Wellness LLC and Brandy Oswald is of a general nature and is intended only for educational purposes to help with your personal health improvement goals and should not be relied on as medical advice. Always consult a physician with any health concerns and prior to changing your diet, lifestyle, supplements,birth control, or prescription medicine routine. Should you choose to use the information provided by Brandy Oswald it is of your own volition and you recognize that neither Brandy nor Sauvage Wellness LLC is not held liable for any intended or unintended outcomes.