Why tracking your menstrual cycle is important
Tracking your menstrual cycle and monthly changes regularly can empower you to better understand what’s happening in your body and provide you with a wealth of knowledge about your overall health.
Menstrual cycle tracking has many benefits as it allows you to:
Identify any menstrual abnormalities
One benefit of period tracking is that it helps you get to know what is normal – and what isn’t – for your body. As a result of having a better understanding of the typical cyclical symptoms you experience, you should be able to identify any changes and/or abnormalities in your cycle which may require you to seek the advice of a professional. The tracking log can also serve to assist your doctor in getting a more comprehensive idea of your menstrual cycle, helping them to better understand your individual circumstances.
We recommend you seek the advice of your medical team or consult a doctor if you experience any of the following during your cycle:
- Severe pain (inability to continue daily activities or requiring significant pain relief)
- Heavy bleeding (i.e., flooding of pads, changing pad/tampon every hour)
- Vomiting and nausea
- Pain with bowel/bladder opening
- Blood in urine or bowel motion
- Urinary incontinence
To learn more about menstrual abnormalities and what they mean, visit our menstrual disorders page.
Adjusting athletic training
Tracking your menstrual cycle also gives you the ability to optimise your training and prepare yourself for any competitive goals. It does so by providing you with an understanding of where you are in your cycle as well as any symptoms you may be experiencing allowing you to adjust your training, recovery, nutrition and hydration appropriately.
This is an area of increasing research interest. Currently, there is significant research heterogeneity however there is some evidence you may perform better, recover easier and be more susceptible to injury at different times of your cycle. As a result, understanding your cycle will allow you to consider implementing changes with your training to optimise performance.
To learn more about how athletic performance is influenced by the menstrual cycle, check out our menstrual cycle and athletic performance blog post.
Estimate your fertile window
Period tracking also gives you better control over your reproductive goals by helping you estimate your fertile window. This is important as the most fertile days in your menstrual cycle are the days leading up to ovulation, the phase of your menstrual cycle when the egg is released from the ovary.
However, it should be noted that if your cycles are irregular or your cycle length varies from month to month, the timing of your fertile window may fluctuate and be difficult to calculate. In this case, you may wish to consider seeking further advice from your general practitioner or a fertility specialist.
If you are trying to conceive, having unprotected intercourse every two days during your fertile window will give you the best chance of conception. This ensures that sperm are present to fertilise the egg when ovulation occurs. To learn more about the menstrual cycle, read our understanding the menstrual cycle page.
Alternatively, if you are trying to avoid pregnancy you can also use this information to reduce your chances of falling pregnant by avoiding intercourse or implementing an additional layer of contraception during the most fertile days of your cycle. This is however not a consistently effective method of contraception.
To learn more about contraceptive options that may be suited to your individual needs please see our contraception page.
So how do I track my menstrual cycle?
Noting down the start date of each period is a great starting point when tracking your period as this allows you to follow the pattern of your cycle. The first day of your period is the first day of your menstrual bleeding. For a more comprehensive picture of your menstrual cycle, we also recommend you consider the following questions when logging your menstrual cycle:
- Have you experienced any premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms?
- When did menstrual bleeding begin?
- How many days did your period last?
- Have you experienced any bleeding between periods?
- What symptoms did you experience during your period?
There are also a variety of period tracking apps available that can help you track everything from your period length to the PMS symptoms you may be experiencing. Period tracking apps we recommend include:
When should I seek medical advice about my menstrual cycle?
If you’re struggling with any symptoms of a menstrual condition or have concerns about menstrual disorders impacting your life and athletic performance, we encourage you to get in touch with us. We have a network of specialised General Practitioners, gynaecologists and fertility specialists across Australia who will be more than happy to speak with you and discuss your individual circumstances.
With over 50 dedicated specialists across 70 consulting locations throughout the country, our friendly staff can help you choose the right medical professional to guide you and help you achieve your sporting goals. Contact us now.