Keeping track of your monthly cycle may not even be on your radar, but it should be. Your period tells a lot about your overall health and wellness, so it’s important to know if something in your monthly cycle changes.
It’s easy to track your period and doing so can help you feel like you have more control over your period-related symptoms. Knowing when you’re experiencing symptoms, like cramps or anxiety, can help you give your body what it needs.
Feeling more anxious than normal? If you’re tracking your period, you might notice a pattern and learn to schedule some self-care during those days. Experiencing a breakout? If you’re tracking your period, you can be prepared with pimple patches and clarifying face masks.
Let’s have a conversation about tracking your monthly cycle and learn how you can become more in tune with your body.
What is the Monthly Cycle?
Your monthly cycle is more than just your period. Your body repeats a cycle roughly every 28 days that makes it possible for you to become pregnant, but only if you want to.
There are four phases of this cycle:
- Menstruation. This is when you have your period. It usually lasts between 5-7 days, but you may experience shorter or longer periods depending on what's normal for your body.
- Follicular. During this phase, your ovaries produce tiny follicles which hold immature eggs. This phase begins on the first day of menstruation and ends when you ovulate.
- Ovulation. This is when a mature egg is released from an ovary. Ovulation technically only lasts one day, although your fertile window usually runs a day before and after your projected date of ovulation.
- Luteal. After the mature egg is released, the luteal phase begins. Progesterone and estrogen levels increase and the lining of your uterus becomes thicker to support a fertilized egg in the event of a pregnancy.
If you don’t become pregnant, your cycle begins again about two weeks after ovulation with your next period.
Why Is It Important To Track Your Period?
If you aren’t trying to become pregnant you might think that tracking your period is just another task that you definitely don’t want to add to your schedule. However, your period tells a lot about your health. Here are five reasons you should be tracking your period every month.
1. Tracking Your Period Gives You Information About Your Health
Having a normal period between puberty and menopause is a sign your body is working properly. When something changes, it can indicate an underlying health issue like:
- Metal health issues
- Heart issues and/or stroke
- Metabolic health issues
- Bone health issues
- Fertility issues
- Ovarian cysts
Changes in your flow, the length of your period, cramping, or even your mood that are noticeable and consistent should always be a red flag to follow up with your doctor. Don’t worry, most of the time it’s nothing serious, but it’s better to get checked just to be safe.
2. Tracking Your Period Helps You Get Pregnant or Avoid Becoming Pregnant
Whether or not you want a baby, tracking your period can help. Tracking your period helps you know when you are most fertile. When you know which days you’re more likely to ovulate, you can either attempt to get pregnant, or take extra precaution to avoid getting pregnant.
As always, it’s possible to become pregnant any time you have unprotected sex. If you aren’t planning to have a baby, always use a contraceptive.
3. Tracking Your Period Helps You Gain Control Over Your Period Symptoms
Your hormones can send you into a big mood, especially when you aren’t expecting them to. Period trackers help you know what to expect and when to expect it. You can track symptoms like:
- Emotional changes or "PMS" (anxiousness, sadness, happiness, irritability).
- Cramps and gastrointestinal discomfort.
- Changes in energy levels.
- Increased sex drive.
These insights help you make sure you take better care of your body.
If you get cramps three days before starting your period, you can make sure you grab a soothing heating patch before you walk out the door.
At Rael, we’re big believers that your period should make you feel empowered, and it’s definitely empowering to know what your body is doing and why. It’s also a great way to make sure you’re constantly in tune with what your body needs and taking care of yourself during every phase of your cycle.
4. Tracking Your Period Helps You Know When You’ve Entered Menopause
Menopause is defined as the end of menstruation. Most people will enter natural menopause between the ages of 40-58, with the average age of menopause being 51.
You won’t know you’re officially in menopause until you’ve had twelve consecutive months without a period. Leading up to menopause, you may experience “clusters” of periods with period-free months in between.
If you aren’t having a regular monthly period, it can be hard to remember the last time you had one, so you won’t know you’re in menopause unless you’re tracking.
5. Tracking Your Period Keeps You Prepared
We all know the pain of starting our periods, bleeding with no supplies on hand. Tracking your period means you never need to waddle to the drugstore with a make-shift pad to grab your period care products (and chocolate for your period cravings).
When you know your period is headed your way, you can easily grab your favorite, natural Rael period care products to prevent leaks, accidents, or awkward trips to the store.
How To Track Your Period
You can keep tabs on your period easily and quickly with the calendar on your iPhone or Google, an Apple watch, a paper calendar, or by using a free cycle tracking health app. All trackers will essentially work the same way, regardless of their interface.
If you want to track your average cycle on your own, you can easily do it by using the following steps.
- Track the day you start your period. This is day one of your monthly cycle.
- Track the first day of your next monthly cycle.
- Count the days between the first day of your first period and the last day before your next period. That span of time is your complete monthly cycle length, which is usually around 28 days.
- To calculate your fertile window, you’ll count backwards. Ovulation occurs 10-16 days prior to the first day of your period. Your fertile window is made up of the five to seven days around the actual ovulation day.
Every person’s body is different, and you may experience monthly cycles that fluctuate between two to three days each month. You can calculate your average monthly cycle (how long it lasts) by tracking your cycle for three months.
At the end of three months, take the average of the amount of days each monthly cycle lasted. That is your monthly cycle.
Other factors like your basal body temperature or the date of your last period can be used to help sync your calendar with your cycle for the best period tracking. If you choose to use a period tracking app, this information will be available at the press of a button, with notifications and reminders on your smartphone home screen.
If you’re on hormonal birth control like the birth control pill, you will probably have predictable periods; you’ll start your period on the day you begin your placebo pills, and finish the day before you start your first hormone pill.
Tracking Your Period: Tips and Tricks
If you’re going to track your period, it’s a great idea to track your period symptoms as well. This is where using a period tracking app can really help.
Many apps have preloaded symptoms you can easily add each day. At the end of several cycles, a period tracking app can help you determine trends like which days you’re more likely to feel certain emotions or period cramps.
If you don’t want to use an app, you can still keep a record of your symptoms by jotting down a few notes on your calendar or saving them on your smartphone. After you’ve tracked your symptoms for several months you can look for patterns in your symptoms that make it easier to create predictions.
What If It Isn’t Exact?
No one’s period is completely predictable all the time. It can be completely normal to have a monthly cycle or period length that isn’t the same month to month. It can also be normal to have a flow that is heavier or lighter each month, or to experience a wide range of period-related symptoms.
If you’ve missed a period entirely, notice a change that develops into a pattern (i.e. much heavier or lighter flow than normal) or are experiencing new period-related symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk to your OB/GYN.
Our schedules are full, but we can make time to keep track of what’s happening with our bodies. When we take better care of ourselves, we experience better health and less anxiety over period-related symptoms. While it's important to regularly see an obstetrics and gynecology MD, you can take your period tracking into your own hands so you know what's normal, and when you should see your doctor.
With Rael, you can handle whatever your body gives you during the month. Our products are holistic, natural, and designed to help keep you comfortable, confident, and protected all month long.