You look down at your phone. It’s 8 pm, on a Sunday. You haven’t had sex today, or yesterday… or the last four days. There’s no excuse. You should do it. You should want to do it!

But you don’t and you don’t understand why not. Just last week you had dripping wet sex.

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Maybe you’re getting old. Maybe you’re stressed. Maybe your vagina stopped working, just like that. Libido — poof!

Or maybe you don’t love him anymore. Oh shit, you don’t want to not love him anymore. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t love him anymore. He’ll break up with you if you don’t have sex eventually. You start to feel your chest tighten and then something grazes your neck.

“Ah!” you squeal. He’s behind you. “It’s time,” you think.

He massages your shoulder and puts his face close to your ear, you turn around slowly to kiss him. A minute later, you’re following him into the bedroom.

Eventually, he goes down on you. After 15 minutes you’re not feeling much closer and you worry he’s getting tired. Five more minutes go by. You direct your thoughts to his tongue, your clit. His finger, your vagina.

Your mind keeps drifting. “Focus. Focus,” you tell yourself. But it doesn’t help. You think this is causing more stress than it’s worth. You get off, kiss him on the mouth, and thank him for his efforts.


Sometimes, we’re not into sex even though we want to be. I’ve learned over the past few months one important reason for this is my menstrual cycle: that mysterious loop which has reset every month since adolescence.

I’d always understood conceptually when a woman is most likely to get pregnant, she is hornier. From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense. Natural selection favored women who had sex when they could have offspring over ones that had sex only at other times of the month, thus we should want sex more when we are fertile. And many studies back up this theory.

However, I didn’t know exactly when this fertile period was.

And even if I had known when a woman is usually fertile within the typical 28-day cycle, because of my irregular period I wouldn’t have known whether I was fertile.

Finally, based on anecdotal evidence (aka my life), it didn’t seem like there was any specific time I was horny. I was boy crazy all the damn time.

But at age 29, I started using a cycle-tracking app for the first time and everything became a lot more clear. I’ve discovered this mystery follows some reason and have come to better understand not just my cycle but myself.

Here’s a quick crash course on how the app I used, Natural Cycles, works (Disclaimer: I’m not promoting this app as a reliable birth control method. Please research it yourself). Every morning, as soon as you wake up, you measure your temperature with a thermometer and input the reading into the app. As the app collects your data, it is able to predict when you ovulate based on a spike in temperature which occurs at that time. A woman with a regular cycle ovulates about two weeks after the first day of her period.


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One of my more regular cycles. I’d never seen it mapped out in this way before.

My boyfriend and I got the app as a method of birth control. We knew to be extra careful with contraception on the days before and during ovulation. (Sperm can live in the vagina for several days so you can get pregnant even if you have sex a few days before you ovulate.) And we knew we could be slightly more relaxed after ovulation because once the egg drops, you can’t get pregnant.

The app would also send me messages telling me how I may feel given which phase of my cycle I was in.


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In the middle of our cycles, we may want sex more and experience a sense of well-being. Conversely, after ovulation and before our periods, we may feel moody.

It suddenly made sense why I felt so sexy on a specific week and not-so-much the next.

That said, I was wary the information could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I worried that because I was “supposed” to feel moody, I felt moodier.

Furthermore, I was careful to not use my cycle as a catchall excuse for my real problems. For example, stress has a serious effect on our libidos (in a bad way) as does novelty in the bedroom (in a good way).

I must consider what else is happening in my life which may affect my disposition. But when I find it hard to pinpoint anything in particular, I can at least consider where I may be in my cycle. And if it’s that time of the month, I’ll have reason to suspect that it’s something out of my control and not worth worrying about. And that knowledge alone makes me feel better because I know in time I will emerge from whatever sweaty subway car of a mood I am in.

I can also use this information to plan ahead. For example, I might want to avoid drugs and alcohol during my moody periods when those substances will just exacerbate negative emotions.


I’ve since stopped using Natural Cycles.

After the whole wow-this-is-when-I-can-get-pregos-and-this-is-when-I-can’t excitement wore off, taking my temperature as soon as I woke up every morning (BEFORE SNOOZING MIND YOU) got old really fast. Furthermore, the app’s reliability is in question. There have been many cases of people using the app and still getting pregnant.

Ultimately, I didn’t need constant feedback on how I was “supposed” to feel on any given day. In the age of information, we are already flooded with more data than we can process and we need not find ways to add to it.

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But I’m still happy for those few months I did use it because it helped me understand myself on a more general level, and it changed my outlook for the better.