Keep Track of Your Menstrual Cycle Keep Track of Your Health

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Keeping track of your periods is a good idea.

After all, you don't want to be caught unprepared to manage your menstrual flow.

But did you realize keeping track of your periods can give you important information about your health?

Tracking helps both you and your health-care provider see patterns that may develop during your menstrual cycles which may indicate a possible menstrual cycle disorder.

Everything about your period says something about your health, including:

  • how often it comes
  • how heavy you bleed
  • how much pain you have
  • how you feel emotionally

Your Menstrual Cycle Matters

At your regular yearly physical your healthcare provider will ask you about your periods.

The first question your healthcare provider will likely ask you is when was the first day of your last menstrual period or LMP. This will be an easy question to answer accurately if you have been keeping track of your menstrual cycles.

Your healthcare provider will want to know more details about your menstrual cycle. It is very helpful if you have recorded the length of your menstrual cycles, the amount of blood flow you experience, any bleeding in between your periods, and any symptoms you may have.

If you develop a menstrual cycle disorder, or if another health issue arises, your menstrual cycle calendar can help you get a quicker, and perhaps more accurate, diagnosis.

What Can I Use to Track My Menstrual Cycle?

You can use any type of calendar to track your menstrual cycle.

You need to make sure whatever type of calendar you are using has enough space for you to make notes. You will be recording the days you have your period and any physical or emotional symptoms that you experience during your menstrual cycle. Remember, you’ll be sharing your menstrual cycle calendar with your doctor.

You may prefer to use an app (consider Clue or  Period Tracker Lite) to track your menstrual cycle. 

It’s important to chart the days you menstruate and the amount of flow you have even if you have predictable periods that always start and end on time, and no symptoms to chart.

What to Write on Your Calendar or Chart on Your App

  • Write when you bleed. Mark down the first day of your period. You will also want to make a mark on each day until your period stops. In addition to charting your period bleeding be sure to note each day you experience any vaginal bleeding, even if it’s a day when you spot or bleed between periods. Also, indicate on your calendar if bleeding is exceptionally light or heavy.
  • Describe the bleeding. The amount and quality of your bleeding is as important as how long and how often you bleed. Be sure to note a description of your bleeding each day. Consider these descriptions: 
    • Heavy, light or just spotting
    • Dark brown or bright red
    • Clots or watery flow
  • Record how you feel. Has your day gone along easily without any major problems? Make note of that! Has today been one of those off days when you haven't felt like yourself? Be sure to note any symptoms or problems you experience each day. 
    • Have you felt anxious or depressed?
    • Were you bloated today?
    • Did you have a headache or any other pain?
    • Are you experiencing more stress than usual?
    • Are you having very painful menstrual cramps?
  • Rate your day. Use a scale of from 1 to 10 to rate your days. Rate your worst possible day with the number 1 and use the number 10 when you have your best possible days – days when you feel completely healthy and happy. Take time every day to rate your day – even if all your days are 10’s!
  • Keep track of medications.  It is important that you write down any medications that you take during your period. If you occasionally take any over the counter or prescribed drugs to treat your period pain or other symptoms, write them down on the appropriate day. The same is true for any supplements or herbal remedies. This is particularly useful when side effects or drug interactions develop.

Updated by Andrea Chisholm MD

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