Most women know roughly when their period is on the horizon, but if you’re not a fan of unannounced visits from Auntie Flow, then it may be time to track your period in a more official way. While it will usually remain monthly, the exact characteristics of each period change a lot throughout your life, so keeping track can help you stay on top of unpleasant period admin when things don’t go exactly as they did a few months ago. And of course, there’s now technology that can help make it super simple.
Why should you track your period?
If your periods are manageable and consistent (you lucky thing) then you may never have felt the need to track them at all, but there are a number of reasons why keeping an eye on what’s going on down there can be very beneficial. Here’s why:
Understand your body: From cramping to acne breakouts to changes in your sex drive, lots can happen during your cycle. If your spotty skin drives you mad,tracking when it’s bound to happen can help you feel better about the situation.
Understand your mind: Many women experience mood swings and even increased anxiety and depression at points in their cycle, so just as you would track your bodily functions, it’s also a great idea to track how you’re feeling so you can anticipate any impending low moods.
Dress accordingly: All the girls with the heavy flows… we feel you! Knowing when you’re safe to wear a skirt and thong, versus when it’s probably best to wear dark jeans and your comfy pants, can make fashion planning so much easier.
Prepare your pack: It’s time to pick out the perfect assortment of pads and ‘pons! Tracking can help you get the balance right between light liner and super absorbent tampons. No day is the same, and knowing in advance can help you avoid being caught short.
Know when you’re most fertile: Whether you’re trying to get pregnant or avoiding pregnancy, knowing your fertile days is more than a bit handy. If you’re trying to conceive, that’s when to get down to it. But remember, if you’re actively trying not to conceive, avoiding those days doesn’t mean you still can’t get pregnant, so take precautions.
Anticipate health issues: Tracking anything odd, uncharacteristic or particularly painful during your cycle can alert you to any health concerns that you might want to discuss with your doctor. Periods can be unpredictable for some, but you know your body best, so if anything out-of-the-ordinary occurs, you’ll know.
Can you track your period naturally?
Of course! Women have been nailing period tracking in their heads for centuries, and if you’re a pre-internet gal, you may remember adding a red dot to your paper diary when your period was due. If you’re not keen on apps and want to keep it old school, simply knowing your cycle better can help you keep track.
How to keep track
As a reminder, women normally bleed every 28 days, but it can be less or more depending on your own body. We're all different! Bleeding is the most obvious sign you’ll get, so we suggest starting to track your period from the day you begin to bleed. Go into as much detail as you want to, and take note of everything from how many days you bleed for, the lightness or heaviness of your period on each day, any discharge, and what tampons or pads you had to use.
But don’t stop there. After you stop bleeding, your body is preparing to release an egg, then comes ovulation, then your next period. Keep track of how your body feels during the full cycle. Any mood swings, changes in your skin, headaches, anything that would be useful for you to know on a monthly basis, write it down wherever is convenient.
There’s an app for that
For the modern woman, apps have popped up all over the place that help us to track our periods more accurately, and the symptoms we can expect. One we like is the Clue app, which asks users a series of questions about their period and birth control, and begins to track your cycle with your help until you have a more detailed, personalised picture of your own period. The app helps to predict it for you, alerting you when it’s time to pop your period products in your bag!
How do you track your period? Let us know over on Instagram: @itsyoppie