If you’re trying to be more in tune with your body, but you’ve never tracked your cycle–or you’ve only ever tracked your period–this is for you. You have so much to gain from the one minute it takes to track your cycle. Here are 5 reasons you should start tracking your cycle immediately–and how to do it.
1. It’s your fifth vital sign.
If you’ve been to the doctor or hospital, you know they usually check four things:
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), “the menstrual cycle…can be thought of as a ‘fifth vital sign.’”
Everything from stress, fluctuations in weight, certain medications, and dietary and lifestyle factors can affect your cycle. So, though it may seem like a silly question, it’s important that you answer it as accurately as possible. That’s much easier to do if you track your cycle.
2. You can predict symptoms of premenstrual syndrome
According to a study published in 2022, 90% of women experience symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Yet many of us are caught off guard every month. By keeping a detailed record of your cycle, you will know what symptoms might show up and when. That way, you can be better equipped to deal with them.
3. It Can Help To Plan Or Prevent A Pregnancy
We typically think of birth control as a hormonal device, pill, or barrier. But there is a natural way to avoid getting pregnant. First, you need to know when you ovulate. And you can see when you’re ovulating by carefully tracking your cycle.
This is useful information whether you’re trying to have a baby or not. If you’re trying to have a baby, you’ll want to get busy on ovulation day and the days just before and after. To avoid getting pregnant, you should avoid sex on those days.
Keep in mind that this method of birth control is, statistically, the least reliable. So, you should consider using another form of birth control, just in case.
4. It can help diagnose health issues.
You may have heard of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Endometriosis, or other conditions that affect the female reproductive system. How can you know if you have one of these disorders?
Start by tracking your cycle.
Extremely painful periods, heavy bleeding, and other symptoms that you might brush off as PMS symptoms may indicate a serious problem. One of the best ways to advocate for yourself is by tracking your period and bringing that information with you to your next appointment.
5. It can help you plan your schedule.
After you track your cycle for a while, you’ll have data to help you know when to expect your period and what symptoms might show up. This can be helpful when planning everything from a vacation to your wedding to your next girls’ night.
If you have some flexibility in your work schedule, tracking your cycle can also be helpful when planning your work schedule. For example, if your period comes at the beginning of the month, you might want to hold off on diving into a new project until after your period ends and your energy levels are back.