The Importance Of Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle

Written by the Ovaterra Content Team for GirlTalkHQ

The average woman has 450 periods in her lifetime, from puberty to menopause. Each woman’s menstrual cycle is unique; however, the cycle goes through the same stages and hormonal fluctuations to prepare your body for a potential pregnancy. Learning and tracking this cycle is essential for women trying to conceive. When combined with fertility supplements for women, period tracking can increase the chances that you will see a positive test result faster. 

Menstrual Cycle Basics

Each month, the first day of menstrual bleeding marks the beginning of a cycle. The length between periods varies from woman to woman. It can be as short as 21 days or as long as 35 days. The average length is 28 days. At the start of your menstrual cycle, your body is shedding the uterine lining in preparation for a fertilized egg. Your hormones repeat the cycle to release an egg and prepare your uterus for a possible pregnancy.

Your menstrual cycle can be divided into four phases. The first phase, the menstrual phase, is when you are bleeding and resetting your body in preparation for a new cycle. It is followed closely by the follicular phase. This second phase is where your ovaries prepare an egg, growing a follicle into maturity to be released into the fallopian tubes. When an egg is released, you have now entered the ovulation phase. 

This is the portion of your cycle where you will have the most fertile days, as the newly released egg has just a few days to be fertilized by a sperm and implant in the endometrium. The final phase is the luteal phase. During this time, progesterone and estrogen levels are high to build up the thickness of the endometrium to accommodate the fertilized egg. If the egg has not been fertilized, your hormone levels decrease, and your body prepares to shed the uterine lining. Every woman’s cycle is different. The amount of time you spend in each phase is unique to you and that month’s cycle. You should not compare your cycle to other women. What is normal for you may not be normal for someone else, but this does not mean it is cause for concern.

Tracking Your Period

There are many reasons to track your menstrual cycle. If you are trying to get pregnant or trying to avoid pregnancy, tracking your cycle lets you know which days of the month are your fertile days and helps you plan your sexual activity accordingly. Tracking your period can also help you keep track of your overall health. When you know the normal length of your cycle and how consistent your cycle is, you will be able to notice small changes that could signal you are stressed or have another health issue. 

Tracking your period is as simple as noting the first day of your period on a calendar. You can then look back on past cycles to determine the average length of your unique menstrual cycle. Depending on your goals, you may find it helpful to track other information during the month, such as the heaviness of your flow, food cravings, mood alterations and energy level.

Cycle Tracking Apps

If you want to track more than the basics, a period tracking app, such as Glow or Clue, can help. These handy tools are easily accessible on your smartphone and make logging data and symptoms quick and easy. Getting started is as easy as inputting the first day of your last menstrual cycle. 

You can choose from a variety of apps, some that might even be preloaded onto your phone. If you have an activity tracker like a FitBit, you may be able to track your period in the same app that counts your steps. Just be aware that this is considered private health information, and you want this data to be secure. For any app you are considering, look at the privacy information before entering any personal data.

Cycle tracking apps are great to bring with you to your next doctor’s appointment. You can discuss your symptoms and trends with your doctor to get expert advice. Just remember that period tracking apps are not 100% accurate. Any information they give you about your cycle and predicted fertility windows is just an estimate. You may or may not be fertile during these times. An at-home ovulation test kit can help you predict your fertility window with better accuracy at home. 

Improving Your Fertility

Your ability to get pregnant relies on the careful coordination of several factors. A healthy egg must be released at the right time. There must be quality sperm that can make their way into the fallopian tube to fertilize the egg. Once fertilized, the egg needs to travel safely to the uterus and implant in the wall to get access to nutrients required to feed a growing baby. 

Your fertility is closely linked to when you ovulate. For most women, the fertile window begins a few days before ovulation and lasts a few days after. In the average 28 day cycle, ovulation occurs around day 14. However, this can vary from cycle to cycle. Ovulation is most likely to occur in the four days before and after the midpoint of your menstrual cycle. This means your fertile window may begin as soon as one week after the start of your period. 

When you track your cycle, you will be able to know your fertile days with more confidence. The earlier you start tracking your cycle, the sooner you will be aware of any potential problems and create a plan to fix them. If you have an irregular or unpredictable period, a fertility diet and quality prenatal supplements could help regulate your cycle and improve egg health. 

You Are in Control

You are in control of your body. While your period starts and ends without much input from you, tracking your cycle gives you more control over your body. You will understand your fertility and trends in your mood. You will be able to predict when your next period will be and plan your life around this. You will know when something is not right in your body and be able to have your concerns checked out by your doctor. When you understand your menstrual cycle, you have the power of information. 

Ovaterra is a reproductive and sexual health company aiming to provide doctors, patients and their partners with research, premium products and the personalized technology to make the most of their reproductive lives. They create science-lead and human-centered products that support your cellular health from the start.

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