There’s a lot that periods can tell you about your overall health. Tracking your period and your cycle in general can be super helpful in being more aware of what’s going on in your body. It can help you notice patterns of symptoms both physically and emotionally.
Here’s everything you need to know about tracking your period and how it can help you.
First let’s take a step back and review each part of our monthly cycle.
Your period is the first phase of your period cycle, which can last from 21 to 40 days. The other phases are follicular, ovulation, and luteal.
Menstrual Phase: This phase starts when an egg from the previous cycle isn’t fertilized. The thickened lining of your uterus, which would support a pregnancy, is no longer needed, so it sheds through your vagina. You release a combination of blood, mucus, and tissue from your uterus. On average, this lasts 3 to 7 days.
Follicular Phase: This phase starts on the first day of your period and ends when you ovulate. The follicle-stimulating hormone is released and stimulates your ovaries to produce follicles. Each follicle contains an immature egg. Only the healthiest egg will eventually mature. The rest of the follicles will be reabsorbed into your body. On average, this lasts from 11 to 27 days.
Ovulation Phase: Ovulation is when your ovary releases a mature egg. The egg travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus to be fertilized by sperm. Ovulation happens right in the middle of your period cycle. It lasts about 24 hours. After a day, the egg will die or dissolve if it isn’t fertilized.
Luteal Phase: After the follicle releases its egg, it changes into the corpus luteum. This structure releases hormones which keeps your uterine lining thick and ready for a fertilized egg to implant. If you don’t get pregnant, the corpus luteum will shrink away and be resorbed. You may experience symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) during this time.
If you aren’t trying to get pregnant, tracking your period may not seem as important and feel like another activity to add to your to-do list. However, your period can reveal a ton about your overall health. Here are three reasons to consider why you should start tracking your period.
- You can be more prepared for your period by tracking it. We’ve all been in the situation where you didn’t know you were supposed to get your period and now you’re scrambling for a pad or tampon. It’s like our period knows to come at the worst times smh. Tracking your period can give you a warning of when to expect it so you can plan accordingly and never awkwardly stumble down the aisles of Target again. (unless you want to coz it is an adventure tbh)
- You can understand your period symptoms by tracking it. We each experience different symptoms, some of them can change month to month even. Tracking these symptoms can help you learn when to expect what. Here are some examples of symptoms to keep track of:
- Emotional changes or PMS (sadness, irritability, anxiousness, etc)
- Breast tenderness
- Energy levels
Knowing what symptoms you typically experience especially before and during your period can help you be ready for it. You can also notice a pattern of which symptoms you get that indicate you’re close to getting your period.
If you experience period cramps, make sure to bring our portable heating pad so you can be prepared no matter where you are.
- You can understand more about your overall health by tracking your period. A normal period between puberty and menopause indicates that your body is working the way it should. Any changes in your flow, period length, cramps, or even mood that are obvious and consistent should always be treated as a red flag to see your doctor. Most of the time, there’s no need to worry but it's always best to be safe than sorry and have that peace of mind.
Alright now that you’re sold and ready to start tracking, where do we go from here?
Thanks to modern technology, downloading a period tracking app is the easiest way to go. Our favorite is the Clue app. I’ve been consistently tracking my period with this app for the last three years and it has changed my period game. This app makes it super easy to keep track of all your symptoms. It also lets you know if your cycle is different in any way and things to pay attention to. I feel so much prepared and aware of what’s going on in my body since I started tracking my period.
Make sure to track any symptoms before your period, the length of your period, symptoms you experience during your period, and any other physical/emotional changes you feel the rest of the time.
Remember our cycles can fluctuate every month for a variety of different reasons and everyone’s cycles are different. This will allow you to understand how your cycle works.
It's a good idea to talk to your OB/GYN if you've missed a period completely, notice a shift that develops into a pattern (considerably heavier or lighter flow than normal), or are experiencing new period-related symptoms.
Take care of your amazing bodies!