While you do not feel the need to remember when the last menstrual cycle began, its intensity, and how long it lasted, your menstrual cycle can reveal a lot about your health and wellness. Keeping track of your menstrual cycle can help you understand the time of ovulation, identify normal and abnormal signs, and figure out any changes, including unexpected bleeding or a missed period. Thus, it is crucial for you to be familiar with period tracking. It will allow you to seek medical attention if there are any irregularities in your menstrual cycle.
Know your Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle is a cycle of changes in a woman’s body, controlled by hormones that cause regular bleeding. It prepares the woman’s body for pregnancy. A woman has two ovaries, and each one contains a bunch of eggs. Each month, an egg is released by one of these ovaries, which is known as ovulation. Also, this is the time when the uterus is ready for pregnancy by changes in hormones. The womb makes a lining to allow the egg to be fertilized. However, if the egg does not get fertilized, the lining and the egg shed as blood through the vagina. So, in simple terms, menstruation is the process of getting your period every month.
Things to Know About Normal Periods
Generally, adult women see their period recurring in each 21-35 days, with bleeding lasting for 3 to 7 days, which is quite normal. The menstrual cycle might be longer during the initial years. However, they are likely to be more regular with age. The periods become more regular too, lasting for the same duration each month. The monthly cycle is measured from day one of the period to the first day of the next period. On noticing any irregularities in the periods, it is wise to consult a doctor. As women are about to reach the age of menopause, the menstrual cycle may start getting irregular again.
Reasons to Track your Period Every Month
Tracking your menstrual cycle every month will help you to understand your body in a better way. Mentioned below are a few reasons to track your period:
- Understand and Manage Your Mood Swings
The menstrual cycle comes with PMS as well as hormonal changes, lasing throughout the cycle. These hormonal changes can cause mood swings that include feelings of anxiety, irritability, stress, or even a sense of extreme affection. Tracking your menstrual cycle will help you to learn and manage these changes better. It will help you get an idea about the symptoms and physical changes such as bloating, painful cramps, etc.
- Understand Patterns
Tracking your menstrual cycle can help you keep a note of the cycle and be aware of the menstrual cycle length. Each woman has a different body type, so irregularities in the cycle are a common thing. While the standard duration of a menstrual cycle is 28 days, it may vary in each woman. So, your menstrual cycle can also be different. Period tracking will help you to notice whether or not your periods are normal.
- Manage your Pregnancy or Contraceptive Choices
There are some common misconceptions about pregnancy, including the thought that a woman can get pregnant within two days of ovulation. Remember, you can conceive only during your fertile window. For most women, an average fertile window falls between the 7th to the 14th day in their menstrual cycle. Tracking your period will help you to know your fertile window and get an idea about the best time to get pregnant. If you do not wish to get pregnant, period tracking will allow you to manage contraceptive choices.
- Be Familiar with Your Sex Drive
Tracking your menstrual cycle and sexual activity will help you to understand hormone levels and period patterns. Often, women feel a spike in their sexual desire and drive during ovulation, which may be reduced gradually once the ovulation phase is over.
- Be More Aware of Overall Health
Your menstrual cycle can say a lot about your overall health. If something gets wrong with your health, your period can be disturbed. Missing your period frequently, having a heavy cycle, or any other extreme irregularity can be a symptom of underlying conditions. Tracking your menstrual cycle will help you to remember details about your period irregularities, allowing you and your doctor to assess the situation better.
Period Tracking – How to do it?
Tracking your menstrual cycle will help you to know about the natural patterns of the cycle. Here are the two best ways to track your periods:
Monitor Your Menstrual Cycle
The first method to track your periods includes the following steps:
- The first day of your menstrual cycle is the day when you start bleeding. You have to make a note of the number of days between your menstrual cycle and days when you bleed every month.
- The next thing you need to do to monitor your periods involves paying attention to your emotions. Whether it is sadness, anxiety, irritability, appetite changes, or any other emotions, note down the number of days when you notice these emotional symptoms. If you see these emotions occurring around the same time every month, they are related to your period. It will also help you to understand the cause of mood changes or anxiety.
- You also have to note down your physical symptoms. These symptoms may include the pain or the flow that you experience every month. Make sure you are writing down all the details including cramps, breast tenderness, and numbers of sanitary pads you have used, changes in the vaginal discharge, or any other symptoms.
- Follow these steps every month to have a better idea about the menstrual cycle. Also, you should note down any small changes that you notice each month.
Use Tracking Devices
It is an easy and advanced way to track your periods. It involves the following steps:
- If you want to use a conventional way, you can use a calendar and mark the dates using a marker, pen, highlighter, or pencil. You can use stickers, symbols, and colours to highlight the length of your period, the starting and the end of the cycle, and the days you notice any physical or emotional symptoms. Hang it at a place where you can easily see it.
- Using a period-tracking app is the most convenient and advanced way to track your periods. Most smartphone apps allow you to keep all the details regarding the period on your fingertips. Also, you can save all your symptoms occurring during the menstrual cycle. Here, you can also use an algorithm to calculate days, when your next period begins, and even the fertile window.
- If you do not wish to use apps and papers, you can choose an online calendar to track your periods. There are many websites (especially related to sanitary products) that can help you track your cycle online. They can help you manage your period history, notes, calendars, etc. to make the tracking process easier for you.
- Also, you can maintain a period journal or a pocket notebook. You can write down all your information regarding the period – even the smallest detail. Keeping a pocket notebook will allow you to compare and evaluate your notes every month quite easily.
How to Prevent Irregularities?
Irregular periods are common and can occur due to hormonal imbalance, changes in contraception methods, or bodily changes around menopause. If your periods are late or early by a few days, if you notice a lighter or heavier flow, or feel intolerable pain, these are signs of irregular periods.
Irregular periods may be caused by reasons such as thyroid problems, unhealthy diet, pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids, and polycystic ovary syndrome. However, you do not need to panic if the tracking process reveals that your periods are not regular. Seeking treatment or using birth control pills can help to treat these period irregularities.
Key Signs Why one Needs to Visit a Doctor
Though irregularities in the menstrual cycle are common, it is wise to consult a doctor if you notice any long-lasting or major changes in your cycle. Tracking your period and providing each and every detail to the doctor will allow you to get proper treatment. Mentioned below are a few signs of why one may need to consult a gynecologist:
- Painful periods
- Menstrual bleeding for more than a week
- Bleeding between menstrual cycles
- An unexpected change in regular periods
- Changing pads frequently
- Missing periods for above 90 days without pregnancy
You should keep in mind that any change in period or irregular bleeding can be something to worry about. Abnormal bleeding can also be a sign of a severe condition such as uterine cancer. Women who notice such abnormalities need to consult a doctor as soon as possible. Keeping all your period-related details ready can be quite helpful for the treatment.