Your cycle is a vital sign

We all expect to have our vital signs examined when we visit our health care practitioner. You know, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature. These four measurements reflect the status of our internal organs and can tell us that further investigation is warranted if the readings are not within normal range. But have you ever thought of the female menstrual period as a vital sign? Many health care experts consider it to be the “fifth vital sign.”

Just as with the other four vital signs, when the biomarkers of the menstrual cycle are within normal limits, it is a reflection of good health and wellbeing. And if those biomarkers do not occur in a normal fashion, it can be an indicator of underlying conditions that need to be addressed. All health care practitioners need tools such as stethoscopes, thermometers and blood pressure cuffs in order to assess vital signs. It’s very similar for the cycle. If a woman has been educated about normal hormonal and menstrual function, and if she is very familiar with her cycle (by charting or tracking the biomarkers), she will have the tools she needs to feel confident about her health and to seek help if needed.

There is a growing interest among women to be empowered with this knowledge, which is just one of the many ways that the Guiding Star Project seeks to assist women, children and families. Here in Iowa, Guiding Star is leading the way in providing comprehensive reproductive education to girls during a Cycle Show workshop. The Cycle Show is a fun and interactive way for girls ages 9-13 to spend a day learning about the amazing communication that will take place in their body as they grow and develop into a woman.

Currently, there are two Guiding Star locations in Iowa (Orange City and Waterloo) and great interest in expansion to other locations. If you are interested in learning more about the Guiding Star Project please go to: https://guidingstarproject.com

If you would like to learn more about the Cycle Show and/or would like to register a girl for an upcoming workshop (Marshalltown – July 26) please visit: https://guidingstarorangecity.org/cycleshow


Linda Jacobs is a BSN, RN, FCP

in Marshalltown.


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