Know your normal - Menstrual Cycle
If someone asked you now, would you know the date your last period started and how long it lasted for? If the answer is ‘No’, and you want to get pregnant, then you might want to start paying closer attention to your cycle.
Why should I track my menstrual cycle?
- Get to know what's normal for you - everyone is different, so knowing your cycle can really help you in your journey to becoming pregnant;
- Time ovulation - vital if your trying to conceive;
- Helps you spot any important changes - such as missed periods, unexpected menstrual bleeding (while cycle irregularities usually aren't serious, sometimes they can be a sign of a health problem- so always best to speak to your GP).
The menstrual cycle - what is it?
Each month, a woman's body goes through a series of changes in preparation for a possible pregnancy. Each month an egg is released from one of the ovaries - this is ovulation - at this point the egg is waiting to get fertilised by a sperm to make a baby.
At the same time as ovulation the body's hormones change and prepare the women's uterus for pregnancy.
If fertilisation of the egg does not happen then the lining of the uterus is shed, and flushed out of the body through the vagina - this is your menstrual period. Eive Kits contains everything you need to accurately track your ovulation - shop now
What is a normal menstrual cycle?
The menstrual cycle length is counted from the first day when a period starts, to the day when the period next starts again. The length of the cycle varies between individuals and this is normal. On average it is 28 days, but it can vary from every 21 to about every 35 days.
The length of the period flow could be between 2 days to 7 days. When a woman starts getting her periods, they are often relatively long cycles. As a woman gets older the length of the cycle shortens and tends to become more regular.
A woman's period may be about the same length every month 'regular' or it could vary each month, termed 'irregular'.
Periods can be light or heavy, painful or pain-free, long or short - and still be said to be normal.
Certain types of contraception such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and birth control pills can alter your menstrual cycle - so please speak to your GP or other health care provider about what to expect and especially if you want to stop any forms of contraception in order to become pregnant.
When a woman gets close to menopause, her cycle might become irregular again. However, because the risk of uterine cancer increases the older a woman gets, any irregular bleeding around menopause should be discussed with a GP or health care provider.
How to track my menstrual cycle?
- It’s best to keep a written record of your cycle - in a calendar, diary or spreadsheet- or use one of the many smartphone apps available on the market.
- Track it every month - so you know what's normal for you!
- Length of Cycle - how long it is - is it shorter or longer than usual?
- Know your Flow - how many days was it, was it lighter or heavy than usual? Did you pass any blood clots - if so how many and how big? How often did you have to change your sanitary products?
- Pain - note down the pain you have with your period is it better or worse than usual?
- Other Symptoms - did you get a headache? Did your breasts feel heavy and sore? what was your mood or behaviour like. As many premenstrual symptoms are similar to early pregnancy ones, knowing what’s normal for your body could help you spot if you might be pregnant. (We include pregnancy tests in your Eive Kit)
- Abnormal bleeding - are you bleeding between your periods (mid-cycle bleed) - if this happens please speak to your GP or Healthcare professional.
Menstrual cycle irregularities - what can cause them?
Irregularities in your menstrual cycle can be caused by many things including;
- Pregnancy or breast-feeding - A missed period can be an early sign of pregnancy. Breast-feeding typically delays the return of menstruation after pregnancy.
- Eating disorders, extreme weight loss or excessive exercising - Eating disorders — such as anorexia nervosa — extreme weight loss and increased physical activity can disrupt menstruation.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) - Women with this common endocrine system disorder may have irregular periods as well as enlarged ovaries that contain small collections of fluid — called follicles — located in each ovary as seen during an ultrasound exam.
- Premature ovarian failure - Premature ovarian failure refers to the loss of normal ovarian function before age 40. Women who have premature ovarian failure — also known as primary ovarian insufficiency — might have irregular or occasional periods for years.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) - This infection of the reproductive organs can cause irregular menstrual bleeding.
- Uterine fibroids - Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus. They can cause heavy menstrual periods and prolonged menstrual periods.
What can I do to prevent menstrual irregularities?
For some women, use of birth control pills can help regulate menstrual cycles. Treatment for any underlying problems, such as an eating disorder, also might help - please speak to your GP or health care provider about any concerns or issues you may have. Please note that some menstrual irregularities can't be prevented.
Please speak to your GP or health care provider if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Your periods suddenly stop for more than 90 days — and you're not pregnant;
- Your periods become erratic after having been regular;
- You bleed for more than seven days;
- You bleed more heavily than usual or soak through more than one pad or tampon every hour or two;
- Your periods are less than 21 days or more than 35 days apart;
- You bleed between periods;
- You develop severe pain during your period;
- You suddenly get a fever and feel sick after using tampons.
If you have questions or concerns about your menstrual cycle, talk to your GP or health care provider - If in doubt get it checked out!