As I was in a primary school my biology teacher gave us a period package, consisting of 2 pads, a booklet about the menstrual cycle and a menstrual cycle calendar. I was still waiting for my first period at the time, so this was of no use, but as soon as I got it, I started tracking my cycle. It was irregular as hell, sometimes I was for months without it, while sometimes cycles were only 21 days long… Irregular periods are very common in the puberty, even after 2 years after the first period many cycles are anovulatory. After some years the cycle should become more consistent with regular ovulation, but you should still keep up with your tracking even afterwards. Why? Because by getting familiar with your menstrual cycle length, its course and symptoms, you can determine yourself when to train hard and when to rest.
The easy way
First of all, to track your menstrual cycle you need a menstrual calendar. You can print it from an online source or get it from your gynaecologist. With your next period, mark the beginning of the period as well as the strength of the flow.
- An easy and an inexpensive method
- You can estimate you next period
- Good insights into the length of the menstrual cycle
- You cannot log your symptoms
- Only a mere estimation of ovulation
- You forget to log the period
Measuring basal body temperature and other signs
To accurately track your ovulation, you can track your basal body temperature. For this method, you will need a thermometer and an advanced tracking calendar or app. As for thermometer, you can choose from either a digital or an old school thermometer. However, the letter breaks very easily. I have already killed several of those old school thermometers and finally bought myself a good digital thermometer. There are also special basal body temperature thermometers, which are more accurate and display more digits, thus you can detect very minor changes in the basal body temperature.
PROCEDURE: The basal body temperature measurement is taken just upon waking up, so it is best to keep the thermometer near the bed. Disturbances during sleep, alcohol consumption and measurement later, when you have already moved from your bed, can influence your basal body temperature. Therefore, the measurement should be noted with consideration.
RESULTS: Throughout the follicular phase, the temperature is usually quite low. After 24-36 hours post-ovulation the temperature rises for 0,5 to 1°C and will remain high until the bleeding.
- An accurate method of detecting your ovulation
- You can determine the length of follicular and luteal phase and thus detect small changes in the cycle
- You know when your fertile window is
- You forget to take the measurement (believe me)
- Changes in sleeping patterns, sleep disturbances skew the measurement
Together with the temperature, it is recommended to also monitor your vaginal discharge (also known as cervical mucus). In the early follicular and luteal phase, the discharge is white and creamy or there is even no discharge. In the days around ovulation, it changes to egg white-like consistency.
There are several apps available for Android and IOS such as Clue, Flo, FitrWoman app, Garmin etc. DODAJ HYPERLINKS In these apps, you can log your period, discharge and symptoms. Some of them (Clue and Flo) offer basal body temperature charts, however, you cannot log your activity accurately. On the other hand, FitrWoman has a connection to Strava, but you cannot work with those data and write further comments to it. Garmin offers a period tracker within the Garmin Connect app. You can log your period via your Garmin watch, which is very handy.
When you are tracking your cycle for longer, algorithms in the app calculate and predict your next period and ovulation; and even send you a reminder.
- All the time with you. I mean how often do you forget your phone at home.
- Easy to log your symptoms
- Some offer basal body temperature charts, for very accurate prediction of ovulation
- Some are not free
- There is no good app that offers advanced cycle tracking and having a good connection with your sports tracker (Strava, TrainingPeaks etc.) at the same time. Garmin Connect is so far the best choice
- You need to use them for a couple of menstrual cycles until the period/ovulation prediction is correct