Although we expect period cycles to be consistent, it can be difficult to know exactly when your period will arrive and how it will affect you mentally and physically. Understanding your period can be a great first step in managing it! While you can’t naturally control the timing of your period, you can proactively plan ahead for your period in order to maintain a healthy cycle.
WHY You Should Track Your Period
It’s important to track your period so you can get to know your ever-changing body. This is also beneficial for monitoring potential irregularities in your cycle that could indicate larger health concerns, such as fibroids or pelvic inflammatory disease. Additionally, tracking your period can help you plan your exercise, optimize your energy levels and feel prepared for big events like weddings and vacations.
HOW to Track Your Period
There are a few methods you can use to track your cycle, including a traditional pen-and-paper journal or marking your dates on a calendar. I recommend that my clients use a period calculator, like this U by Kotex® Period Calculator, to easily and consistently track all phases of your cycle.
WHAT to Plan For
Sometimes periods arrive early or late! To avoid unpleasant surprises on your cycle, familiarize yourself with a few factors that can affect the start date of your period (and reference your period tracker to better understand when that surprise could arrive):
- Excessive levels of stress can affect ovulation and delay your period. To enable a consistent cycle, keep your stress in check by getting enough sleep.
- Your period causes hormone levels to fluctuate, sometimes affecting energy and focus. When planning for your period, stock your pantry with foods high in magnesium to boost energy, or with calcium to relieve cramps, or with B-vitamins to improve focus.
- Ahead of your period, you can plan workouts to help optimize your energy levels. Keep an eye on your period tracker to better understand the different phases of your cycle. For example, progesterone levels can increase in the luteal phase, when you might experience more fatigue and prefer workouts like yoga instead of high-intensity training.
Whether your period flows like clockwork or fluctuates each month, tracking your cycle – and using a period tracker – can help you understand your shifting energy levels, monitor for larger health concerns, and optimize your cycle so you can take on each day. Paying attention to your mind and body is so important for a healthy, productive cycle!
About Dr. Jessica Shepherd: Dr. Jessica Shepherd is an OB/GYN, women's health expert and the founder of Her Viewpoint, an online women's health forum that focuses on addressing taboo topics in a comfortable setting. She currently practices at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX.
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