Understanding your period can tell you more about yourself than you might imagine. There are several reasons to track your cycle-
1. It can help you understand your unique patterns.
The simplest way to track your cycle is to log when your period occurs so you can start to understand your average cycle length. Every body is different, and having an unpredictable period is more common than you think. A 28-day cycle is a global average, but may not be your personal average. If you are aware of your cycle, you will naturally feel more in control–and less likely to be surprised by your next period.
2. It can help in getting pregnant.
Tracking your period can help you understand the patterns of symptoms that you experience throughout your menstrual cycle—from pain, to cravings, to sex drive. Tracking can give you a better idea of when you are fertile, which may be helpful if you’re trying to become pregnant.
There are common misconceptions about how pregnancy occurs: that you can only get pregnant on your day of ovulation, or that you can get pregnant all the time. Neither of these are true. During the days leading up to and after ovulation, pregnancy is possible.
3. It will increase your awareness of your overall health and wellness.
Your menstrual cycle is a direct indicator of your overall health, and periods are your body's way of telling you that things are working as they should. Having an extremely unpredictable or heavy period, or skipping a period, can indicate an existing underlying condition. By tracking and logging various details of your cycle, you will be able to recall things that you might otherwise forget when speaking with your healthcare provider.
4. It can tell you a lot about your individual sex drive.
Tracking your sex drive and sexual activity can help determine patterns in your cycle. Around ovulation, you might notice spikes in your sexual desire.
5. You can understand and manage your mood.
It's not just about PMS. Hormonal changes throughout the menstrual cycle have been suggested to cause changes in mood like irritability, anxiety, or feeling more affectionate, but a definitive link between mood and the menstrual cycle is still under study and debate. Learning when these changes happen can be another piece of information to help understand the rhythm of your cycle.
How to get started-
At the bare minimum, you should keep track of the first day of your period each month. This information is enough to help you notice most irregularities. However, you can get pretty sophisticated with your period tracking. Keeping these details helps you and your doctor monitor your health more closely, and it can also help you prepare yourself for other symptoms related to menstruation.
Besides tracking the first day of your period each month, other here are some other data points you should consider monitoring:
-Period heaviness by day
Does your period start with a couple of days of heavy flow and then taper off to a day or two of spotting? If so, you probably require different strengths of pads or tampons through the course of your cycle. Anticipating these needs can make your life much easier.
-Changes in mood during the menstrual cycle
If you experience PMS or PMDD, your moods may seem subject to random fluctuations. By tracking your moods in the days leading up to and during your period, you just might find that you wake up on the wrong side of bed exactly two days before starting your cycle each month.
Forewarned is forearmed, so the more you know about what to expect from your moods, the better you can cope with them as they come.
-Energy level, appetite and other changes
A lot of women don't even realize how many aspects of their lives are dictated by their menstrual cycle, at least during certain parts of the month. When you track how you feel as your cycle approaches, you can learn some pretty interesting things about your habits.
Or, it might be that tracking your energy level shows you that you are always exhausted on day three of your period, or that you get a headache before your period starts each month. When you track every aspect of your cycle, you won't be blindsided by your body's reactions to menstruation.
Methods for tracking-
You don't necessarily need a fancy method for tracking your period and the accompanying symptoms. Writing it down on a calendar or monthly planner serves the purpose just fine.
If you want to get a little more high-tech with it, however, there are computer programs, online trackers and smartphone apps that give you the ability to keep up with every detail you could want. Here’s a list of the best period tracker apps out there:
* Clue - Has 31 tracking categories, allowing women to go into as little or as much detail about each specific day of their period.
* Glow - A colorful and advice-oriented interface with many fertility features and ability to share details with your partner; a great choice for women hoping to conceive.
* Eve - Targeted to single women with multiple sexual partners who also wants to avoid pregnancy; includes a tracker for sexual activity.
* Period Tracker Lite - Simple app with no bells and whistles; view your cycle’s duration on the app’s calendar view and track moods and symptoms such as cramps or acne.
Regularly recording everything about your cycle, even if it feels weird, can give your doctor important information. Next time you visit your doctor, he or she will probably ask you the date of your last period. If you track your periods, the answer will be really easy!
Content by: Niyati Arun
Graphics by: Gargi
Why Track Your Menstrual Cycle? (Always)
5 Reasons to Track Your Period (Clue)
How to Track Your Period and Why It’s Important (allaboutwomenmd)