Unless you’ve been trying to get pregnant, you may not be familiar with a menstruation cycle chart. Also known as a menstrual hormone chart, this tool helps menstruators predict the days in each month during which they will be most fertile.
Using a menstruation cycle hormone chart is useful for any menstruator to help monitor changes in the menstrual cycle, recognize signs of your next period, predict symptoms, and identify when things are amiss. Keep reading to learn more about the phases of the menstrual cycle and how to use a menstruation cycle chart to track them.
Understanding the Menstrual Cycle
Phases of the Menstrual Cycle
Many people think of the menstrual cycle as the days during which they have their period. In fact, a full menstrual cycle is the number of days from the first day of your period until the first day of the next one. The menstrual cycle is driven by hormonal changes that help the body prepare for pregnancy. There are four phases to track on a menstrual cycle chart:
Also known as the “Period”, Menstruation is when the uterus sheds its lining if pregnancy has not occurred within the last cycle. This shedding includes both tissue and menstrual blood which flows out of your body through the cervix and vagina.
During this phase, the level of estrogen in the blood rises, which causes the uterine lining (also known as the endometrium) to grow and begin thickening once again. At the same time, a hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) causes the follicles in the ovaries to grow. During the last few days of this phase, one of these follicles forms a fully mature egg.
This is the day during which an ovary releases its egg. This happens due to a spike in luteinizing hormone (LH). This is probably the best-known phase besides menstruation, as it’s common for women who are attempting to become pregnant to determine when they are ovulating.
During this phase, an egg leaves the ovary and journeys through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. In this phase, the hormone progesterone rises to encourage the lining of the uterus to prepare for pregnancy. If the egg that has been released becomes fertilized by a sperm and attaches to this hospitable uterine wall, this is known as implantation and pregnancy occurs. If pregnancy doesn’t occur, then the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop again, stimulating the uterus to shed the thick lining once again – and another period occurs.
Average Length of the Menstrual Cycle
A typical menstrual cycle can take anywhere between 24 and 35 days, though for most menstruators it lasts 28 days. The length of each phase within the menstrual cycle can vary for each menstruator. A period lasting anywhere from 3 to 7 days is considered normal.
Creating a Menstruation Cycle Chart
To create a menstruation hormone chart, you can use any calendar you prefer. Print out a monthly calendar, use a diary, or maintain an online menstruation cycle chart – it’s really up to you to use the method you find easiest to maintain monthly!
Keeping a menstruation cycle chart (or period calendar) is as simple as marking the first day of your period (when you begin bleeding) on your calendar. Mark that day as Day 1 on your calendar, and then mark down the day when your period ends. Keep counting from Day 1 until the first day of your next period. When your next period arrives, mark it with a symbol that makes sense to you, whether it’s a red dot, a P, or anything you prefer.
With these simple steps, after a few months, you’ll have a record of how many days your total menstrual cycle lasts, as well as how many days your period lasts from month to month. You can take it a step further and also record premenstrual symptoms on your calendar to figure out what physical and emotional changes you experience in different phases of your cycle.
Benefits of Using a Menstruation Chart
Better Understanding of the Menstrual Cycle
By keeping a menstrual cycle hormone chart, you can notice how your menstrual cycle affects your health, energy levels, mood, and overall well-being during different phases. By understanding when you might feel a certain way, you can plan your days to maximize your well-being.
Feel introverted and irritable during the days leading up to your menstruation phase? By knowing when that will happen, you can avoid scheduling a big work presentation during that time, for example.
Predicting the Menstrual Cycle
Keeping a menstrual cycle chart will allow you to know when you are approaching a particular phase in your cycle with relative accuracy. Of course, this is most necessary for women who are trying to conceive, but it can be just as useful for others who need to plan ahead according to their cycle. By charting your cycle, you will be aware of fluctuations that affect your physical and emotional health and can act accordingly.
Early Detection of Menstrual Issues
Another great benefit of maintaining a menstruation cycle chart is that it empowers you to take your reproductive health into your own hands and become an advocate for yourself. It can be hard to notice irregularities if you’re not tracking what your cycle looks like. Since menstrual cycles can vary so much between menstruators, it’s important to know what your normal is so that you can detect when something is wrong. Knowing your menstrual cycle in detail can help you when you see your doctor to help manage symptoms.
Now that you know how to create a menstrual cycle chart and why it’s such a great idea, you’re ready to try it for yourself! At AIMA, we’re breaking the silence around period pain and doing our best to narrow the gender pain gap. Join us by speaking openly about your menstrual cycle and encouraging other menstruators to track their cycles for better reproductive health!
Editor: Lanna Last & Thomas Sauls