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What’s Your Cycle Telling You?

By EmpowHER December 13, 2011 - 9:37pm

Most of us think we know ourselves pretty well. But how well do you really know yourself? Here’s a test: When was the first day of your last period?

You may recognize this question from your last visit to your OBGYN. If you’re like many women, you struggled to provide an answer. The truth is, if you don’t know what’s going on with your menstrual cycle, then you are missing out on an important part of knowing yourself. Your menstrual cycle can tell you a lot about your body, so get to know it more intimately.

How well do you know your period?
Some of us recognize our monthly visitor by the symptoms we experience each month before its arrival. More than 80 percent of women have cramps, mood swings, bloating, or other symptoms in the days leading up to their periods, and these symptoms can vary from woman to woman, from mild to severe. Severe emotional and physical symptoms that interfere with daily life signal a condition called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which may require medication or treatment.

A typical menstrual cycle, or the time between periods, occurs every 21 to 35 days, and a normal period lasts from three to seven days. However, more than 30 percent of women experience irregular periods during their childbearing years. A period is considered irregular if it occurs more frequently than every 21 days, or lasts longer than eight days. Experiencing irregular cycles can be perfectly normal, but in some cases it can signal something is wrong.

Is my period irregular?
To determine whether your period is irregular, count the number of days between the last day of one period and the start of the next. Do this for three consecutive months. An online resource (imensies.com) or a mobile app (iPeriod for iPhone or Pink Pad for Android) can help you track your menstrual cycle month to month and can even help predict your upcoming periods.

If you’ve always had regular periods and your periods suddenly change, this may indicate something is going on with your body. Changes in your period can be caused by a variety of factors. Have you started taking a new medicine? Have you been stressed out at work recently?

Add a Comment1 Comments

I am 26 years old and I can honestly say I have never truely "gotten to know my menstrual cycle". I know what week it happens and about how long it lasts but couldn't tell you the first day of my last cycle. My sister is the opposite and I believe even marks it on her calendar. That goes to show no two menstrual cycle relationships are the same.

I was rather surprised to find my son went into labor on my exact due date, when I was merely guessing the first date of my last menstrual cycle before I was pregnant.

After reading this blog I am interested in learning more about this part of myself. So much so that I downloaded an app for my Droid :) I'm looking forward to using it, and blaming my hormones more often!

January 4, 2012 - 1:16pm
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