Are you tracking your menstrual cycle? It’s that time of the month again!
For most women, getting a period is a fact of life. But if you’re not tracking it and do not know what to expect, it can be hard to know when you will get your next one. That’s why we have created this guide to help you understand how to track your menstrual cycle and what to expect from it.
What Is Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle is a series of changes that your body goes through every month when you’re not pregnant.
It happens because of hormones in your body. Hormones are chemical messengers travelling through your blood to tell different body parts what to do.
The changes in the menstrual cycle happen because of two hormones: estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen causes the lining of the uterus (womb) to build up with blood and tissue to support a fertilised egg (embryo).
Progesterone causes this lining to break down if no fertilised egg is present. These changes in the lining cause bleeding from the vagina at different times during each cycle.
How Long Is Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle is when a woman’s body prepares for ovulation, pregnancy and childbirth. It is a monthly period that lasts from 3 to 7 days.
It begins with the first day of menstrual bleeding when an egg is released from one of the ovaries and travels through fallopian tubes to the uterus. The lining of the uterus thickens in anticipation of implantation. If implantation does not occur, the uterus sheds its lining during menstruation.
The menstrual cycle occurs about every 28 days because it takes about 28 days for an egg to mature in one of your ovaries.
How to Calculate Menstrual Cycle
Women will often get confused about calculating the length of their menstrual cycle. This is because there are a few different ways to go about it.
The first method is to count the days between the first day you get your period and the day before you expect your next period. This will give you an idea of how long your cycle usually lasts, but it might not be accurate for every month.
You may not notice any changes in your cycle or have any reason for concern if you don’t see any fluctuations in how long it takes for your period to start each month.
Another way to calculate your menstrual cycle is by using an ovulation calculator. These calculators will help determine when ovulation occurs so that you can know when conception might be possible if you’re trying to get pregnant. They also show other important information like how much fertile mucus there is during each day of your cycle and what kind of symptoms are associated with ovulation (e.g., tender breasts or headaches).
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Why Is It Important to Calculate and Track Your Menstrual Cycle
Calculating your menstrual cycle is an important part of understanding your reproductive health. It can tell you much about what’s going on with your body and give you some insight into any potential problems that might develop.
While calculating the length of your cycle can be done in a few different ways, the most accurate way is to use a basal body thermometer and chart the temperature fluctuations over several months. You’ll also want to track changes in the colour, texture or amount of discharge from your vagina.
It’s important to note that there are no hard and fast rules for what constitutes a normal menstrual cycle, so don’t worry if yours falls outside the range listed below. That said, it’s still important for every woman who menstruates to understand what healthy periods look like so she can recognise deviations from normalcy as soon as possible.
Menstrual Cycle Phases
The following are the four phases of the menstrual cycle.
- Menstruation is the period from the start of menstruation to ovulation, about 14 days.
- Follicular phase – when an egg develops in one of your ovaries, lasting up to 14 days.
- Ovulation – the release of an egg from one of your ovaries, which usually happens between days 11 and 21 of a typical 28-day menstrual cycle.
- Luteal phase – the time between ovulation and your next period, which can last between 10 and 16 days on average
“Why Is My Menstrual Cycle Getting Shorter”
It’s normal for your menstrual cycle to change over time. As you get older, it might even get shorter.
When your period starts getting short and you’re not pregnant or using hormonal contraception, that can signify polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a condition in which the ovaries produce too many male hormones. That can lead to irregular periods, infertility and other problems.
If this happens to you, talk with your doctor about what it might mean and how to manage it.
So why does your menstrual cycle change over time?
The answer is: It depends.
It could be that you’re going through puberty, and your body is changing as it prepares for pregnancy. Or it could be that you’re just getting older, and your cycles are naturally becoming more regular.
If your cycle has been getting shorter and shorter, and you’ve had more than one period each month, make an appointment with a gynaecologist to get checked out. Your doctor can help determine if there’s a medical reason behind your shortened cycle or just because of normal changes in your body.
Common Menstrual Problems
The menstrual cycle is a natural part of life, and it’s something most women experience at some point in their lives. But just because something is normal doesn’t mean it’s not worth talking about!
Here are some common problems that can come up during your menstrual cycle:
Cramping is a common menstrual problem that affects most women. It can be mild or severe, lasting just a few minutes or up to several hours.
Some women have light or heavy bleeding between their periods. This is known as spotting or breakthrough bleeding. Spotting can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days.
An infection can cause painful urination during your period in your urinary tract, which can be painful and embarrassing.
Dry skin around the vaginal area during your period is normal for some women; others may experience it only occasionally. If you have dry skin on other parts of your body, it could be caused by an underlying condition such as eczema or psoriasis.
Menstrual problems are a common cause of anxiety and depression. For some women, the pain can be so severe that they have difficulty functioning normally. Here’s what you need to know about the most common menstrual problems and how to treat them.
Premenstrual syndrome refers to symptoms that occur before menstruation begins in some women. These symptoms include breast tenderness, bloating, irritability, and mood swings. PMS can affect how a woman feels throughout the month, but it usually occurs before menstruation starts and lasts only a few days each month.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to that found in the uterus grows outside of it (i.e., on the ovaries or fallopian tubes). This misplaced tissue can cause severe pain during periods and other symptoms like heavy bleeding or pelvic pain between periods (called intermenstrual bleeding).
When Should You See a Doctor
There are a few key signs that may indicate you should see a doctor about your menstrual cycle
Painful menstrual cramps
If you’re experiencing painful menstrual cramps, it’s time to see a doctor.
While menstrual cramps are normal during your period, if they’re so painful that they affect your daily activities, it’s time to talk to your doctor about treatment options. Your doctor can help you find the right treatment for you and keep your pain under control.
If you’re bleeding more than usual, it can be a sign that something is wrong with your reproductive system. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should talk to a doctor:
- Bleeding that lasts longer than 7 days
- Heavy bleeding that soaks through maxi pads in less than an hour
- Bleeding after sex or other pelvic exams
- Blood clots larger than a quarter
Image source: iStock
A change in your normal period
It’s normal to have irregular menstrual cycles, but a change in your normal period can be a sign of an underlying condition. These conditions can range from mild to severe and may require treatment.
If you notice any changes in your period, you must see a doctor immediately to ensure your body is healthy. If the problem is not severe, you can manage it at home by making small changes to your diet or lifestyle choices.
Thick, clotted blood on the pad or tampon
It could signify an infection if you notice thick, clotted blood on the pad or tampon. This can happen if there’s too much menstrual blood flow and it pools in one area.
See your doctor for further evaluation if you see blood clots and have other symptoms like fever, chills, abdominal pain or discomfort.
Updates from Pheona Ilagan