By Charlotte Wade, Physiotherapist EIS/ British Canoeing Paracanoe
Do you keep a record of your menstrual cycle?
Should you keep a record and how?
What does your cycle tell us and how can you use the information?
Why track your cycle:
Females experience a period approximately every 28 days (although this can fluctuate with each individual to be longer or shorter) as part of their menstrual cycle. This is a normal cyclic process which can be an indicator for health monitoring and reproductive status.
Tracking your menstrual cycle can help you to determine your own body responses and symptoms during the cycle, recognise health concerns, whilst it can also help you to plan for pregnancy indicating fertile windows. Understanding and tracking your cycle, you can plan and be prepared for any patterns of symptoms and have expectations of how your body may feel during certain phases whilst determining what’s normal for you.
For athletes, have you considered tracking your cycle on your macrocycle? This can be an easy way to support conversations with your coach and allow you to monitor your cycle against expectations of your training weeks.
How to track your cycle:
Step 1: Period Duration. Determining day 1 which is your first day of your bleed. Count the number of days your period lasts which usually is between 5-7 days.
Step 2: Menstrual cycle Duration Count the number of days between the start of your period and your next period. This is the length of your menstrual cycle. Knowing this will help you to determine fluctuations in symptoms such as energy, mood and cramps. This can help determine your phases of menstrual cycle.
You can use electronic or paper calendars to write down and monitor your days or use an app.
There are many free apps available that help track your period and provide information on fertile windows, indicating potential ovulation. Some apps also allow other monitoring including a record contraception type, intercourse and menstrual symptoms. Apps include but are not limited to Flo, Natural Cycles, Clue, Fitrwoman, Garmin Connect.