How to Track Your Period and Why It’s Important

portrait of a young african american girl hiding part of her face behind a calendar

We know your menstrual cycle can be both a blessing and a curse — sometimes literally. Pliny the Elder once said, for example, that the living things that come in contact with periods are poisoned! You may find yourself feeling the same, as your menstrual cycle can affect mood, food cravings, skin health, and even weight.

You may be a part of the 90% who experience multiple symptoms when their period comes or even the 32 to 40% of those who say their cramping becomes so severe that they have to skip work or school. This is why befriending your period and learning its cycles will help. 

Why Should You Track Your Period? 

If you have regular periods, tracking them can help you and your doctor understand the standard patterns of your body. Irregular periods may be a sign of other underlying health issues, such as  PCOS, thyroid disorders, or endometriosis, so tracking can help your doctor find the root cause of any abnormalities. 

Tracking your period can also show you when to expect cramps, why you may be craving a certain food, and help you understand mood fluctuations. It can also help you determine when you are ovulating. The average length of a period cycle is 28 days, but can range between 21 and 40 days. Ovulation usually occurs 14 days after the last day of your period. So if you’re trying to conceive, paying close attention to your period cycle can inform when you’re most likely to get pregnant. But it can also help if you want to avoid having a baby. 

Ways to Track Your Period 

Pen and Paper 

The old-fashioned way, with a pen and paper, can work just fine. Grab a notebook and pen, or even a calendar, and record some key points of your period, including: 

  • When your period starts 
  • How heavy/light your flow is 
  • Pain from cramps 
  • The emotions you’re feeling
  • Other noticeable symptoms including skin health and bloating 

Stress, weight changes, and birth control can affect the regularity of your cycle, so note these things as well. Tracking your basal body temperature (which lowers right before your ovary releases an egg), can help you determine when you’re ovulating — and therefore most likely to conceive. 

As you get used to tracking your cycles, you can add things like what you ate, how you slept, your social life, etc. to see if you find any more patterns! Then use your “handy dandy” notebook to discuss matters with your doctor. 

Tracking Apps 

There are many apps that automate the process of tracking your period. These allow you to enter when you get your period, when it ends, and in some cases keep notes about the different aspects of your daily life. 

These apps can also calculate ovulation days, and provide a countdown for when you should expect your next period. Whichever app you choose can take the place of your notebook when you talk to your doctor. 

What to Look Out For 

There are a few things you can pay attention to that will help determine when to see a doctor.

  • Your period lasts for more than 7 days 
  • Your period stops for two months 
  • Your period is less than 21 days apart 
  • Your period is more than 40 days apart
  • Your regular period suddenly becomes irregular 

Avant Gynecology’s mission is to make every patient feel valued and appreciated through all cycles. If you would like to learn more about reproductive health, visit our website. If you notice anything abnormal while tracking your period, contact our team of specialists by calling (404) 352-2850 or schedule an appointment online