Understanding your menstrual cycle can be an incredible addition to your self-care toolkit.
Many people who menstruate feel shame or embarrassment discussing their periods, but did you know that period stigma can negatively impact health outcomes? If you’re too ashamed to track or talk about your period, it can make it more challenging to seek medical help when you need it.
It’s time to break the menstruation taboo. Getting familiar with your period demystifies your body’s processes and puts you back in the driver’s seat of your health. If you haven’t broken out a red calendar yet, here are seven of the top reasons you should be tracking your period.
To better understand your overall health
Most menstrual cycles last about 28 days, but every person is different. Tracking your period gives you a better understanding of what “normal” looks like for you. Most period trackers also provide tools to track PMS symptoms like:
- Mood changes
- Gastrointestinal changes
Once you understand your baseline, you can better determine whether health issues like acne or headaches are due to hormonal changes. You can also recognize if your symptoms change from month to month. You’ll know right away if you’re late or if you’re having more severe PMS effects than usual. A sudden increase in the severity of cramps can indicate a potential health issue.
Additionally, tracking your cycle helps your doctor support you better. During an annual checkup, your doctor will likely ask questions about your cycle. If you’ve been following your period, you’ll be able to provide confident answers that help your doctor evaluate your health.
To avoid surprises
While periods are nothing to feel awkward about, nobody wants to be caught unawares wearing white pants. You don’t need to feel any shame or embarrassment, but it’s certainly annoying when you have to break out the bleach and Tide stick.
Knowing when to expect your period will help you avoid those unwanted surprises. If your cycle is relatively consistent, you can remember to carry a pad, tampon, or menstrual cup with you on your predicted start date.
To more effectively prevent pregnancy.
A period tracker can help support your contraceptive efforts. If you don’t want to be pregnant, you should always use protection like condoms, birth control pills, or an IUD.
That said, if you want to go the extra mile, you can also avoid sexual intercourse entirely during your fertility window. Tracking your cycle will help you identify when you are fertile and need to be careful with your birth control methods.
To increase your likelihood of conceiving
Tracking fertility is one of the main reasons people choose to track their period.
You plug in your period start dates, body temperature, and other metrics, and a tracker app will let you know when you’re most likely ovulating. You can then use the tracker to plan around your fertility windows and increase your pregnancy chances.
To help you manage your mood
Many people experience mood swings due to fluctuations in hormones during menstruation.
During your period, your estrogen and progesterone hormone levels are low. Early in your cycle, right before ovulation, your estrogen will spike. Then, during and after ovulation, both estrogen and progesterone levels are high. If you don’t conceive during this time, the levels will drop again, and your period will cycle back through.
These changing hormones can strongly affect your mood and mental outlook. By tracking your period, you can be aware of why you might be feeling despondent on one day and perfectly fine on another. Knowing why you feel a certain way can help relieve a bout of anxiety, irritability, or depression.
You can also ensure you are sleeping well, eating well, and getting plenty of exercise on days when your mood might be challenging to manage.
To improve your skin
Your changing hormone levels may also affect your skin. Some people experience increases in acne, oiliness, dryness, or other skin complaints during specific times in their cycle.
Using a period tracker, you can map whether changes to your skin match changes in your cycle each month. If you notice a pattern, speak with your doctor or dermatologist. Hormonal acne may respond to different topical treatments or even birth control.
To support your sex drive
Many people will experience increases or decreases in their libido based on where they are in their cycle. Often sex drive increases around ovulation as the body prepares for fertilization.
By tracking your period, you can learn a lot about your sex drive. The more you understand your own body, the more control you can have over your pleasure. Sex can be an essential element in health and relationships, so tracking your period is a great way to determine when you may or may not be in the mood.
Tracking your period is a powerful way to take control of your overall mental and physical health. You can understand your body, mind, and sexual experiences better when you understand your menstrual cycle. For people who menstruate, tracking your period can be a game-changer.