Are you a period tracking guru or newbie? Tracking your period by logging your start and end dates, associated symptoms, and many health changes throughout the month, can be very helpful. Not only can it give you an estimate of when your next period will arrive, it also increases your awareness of many other aspects of your health such as mood, appetite changes and PMS symptoms so that you can feel more in control of your body. It can also provide a unique pattern so you that can better communicate those patterns to your healthcare provider.
Keeping tabs on your cycle is also a good idea if you’re trying to become pregnant, or even want to take extra steps to prevent pregnancy in addition to other birth control methods. It’s a great opportunity to practice listening to your body.
Here are a few reasons why tracking your menstrual cycle is a good idea.
It can increase your awareness of your overall health, which is bomb
Ladies, ladies! Your menstrual cycle is a good indicator of your overall health. Irregular, absent and even heavy periods can indicate an underlying health condition. When you track your cycle and jot down the associated symptoms if any, you will be able to share those details when speaking to your healthcare provider which can help them suggest lifestyle changes and a better treatment plan.
Monitor your appetite
Different phases of the menstrual cycle can affect your appetite. For example, the luteal phase (the phase right before your period) requires a higher demand of energy coming from nutrients and food to help rebuild the uterine lining, so you may experience increased hunger. Some women do experience low appetite too, everyone is different. Tracking your cycle and making note of your appetite changes will help you be more aware of the reasons why you might be experiencing this, and it can help you come up with a game plan, if need be.
Understand your unique patterns
Get a better idea of your average cycle length by logging your period start date. An average cycle day is 28 days, but this is different for everyone. Having awareness will make you feel more in control of your cycle and if we are keeping it real here, you may encounter less surprises when auntie flo arrives.
Know when you are fertile
Although there’s always a chance of getting pregnant anytime during the menstrual cycle, you are more likely to get pregnant during your fertile window according to the science, not us. During the days leading up to and after ovulation, pregnancy is possible. This is called the ‘fertile window’, which lasts about 6 days on average with the greatest chance of conception being the two days before ovulation.
You can understand and manage your mood
Hormonal changes throughout the menstrual cycle have been suggested to cause changes in mood such as irritability, anxiety, happiness. These are just a few, some women may experience severe mood changes (hello PMDD). The research is still evolving, but it is pretty interesting to know how mood and the menstrual cycle are connected. Being aware of your mood can help you better manage them.
It can tell you a lot about your individual sex drive
It’s not a bad idea to track your sex drive so you know when you feel the most or least desire. Around ovulation, you may notice an increase in your sex drive due to hormonal changes, which is completely normal but varies in each woman.
Take notes of your vaginal discharge
Vaginal discharge is perfectly normal (it’s your vagina’s way of cleaning itself), and its consistency, quantity and color changes throughout your cycle in response to hormonal fluctuations. Healthy vaginal discharge ranges from white to clear in color, and thick to slippery in consistency. You may notice a thicker or stickier discharge at mid-cycle which is completely normal and means you’re ovulating. You can also track when you notice any changes and report them to your doctor.
Learn your unique symptoms, if any
Tracking your premenstrual symptoms can help you define what PMS looks like for you. Tracking will also help you recognize the environmental factors that may amplify PMS (i.e lack of sleep, increased hunger, etc). PMS is a recurring pattern of emotional, physical and behavioral changes in the days before your period that may impact your daily life. These include headaches, bloating, irritability, back pain, joint or muscle aches, and sleeping and digestive issues. Tracking symptoms throughout your menstrual cycle can help you understand your experience of PMS, what to expect, and when to see a healthcare provider.
Plan your social life!
Tracking your period can also help you plan your social life. When you are expecting your period, you can plan to have feminine products handy! No need to ask around. Also, if you experience cramps or other not so pleasant period symptoms, you may be able to plan social events in advance so they can be more enjoyable.
Do you track your cycle? Do you use a calendar? What are your favorite apps to use for period tracking if you use one? Share in the comments below.