RMACT Basics: Tracking Your Menstrual Cycle
What is a normal or average menstrual cycle? It may be years since you've really wondered about that question. You may assume that you know. Likely you are right.
Average Length of a Menstrual Cycle
Just in case, though, here are a few facts taken straight from the experts regarding your menstrual cycle, the American Congress of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (ACOG):
"A menstrual cycle is defined from the first day of menstrual bleeding (called day 1) of one menstrual period to the first day of menstrual bleeding of the next. An average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days.
In a normal menstrual cycle, an ovary releases an egg, a process called ovulation. In an average menstrual cycle of 28 days, ovulation occurs about 14 days before the start of the next menstrual period. The number of days between ovulation and the start of the menstrual period is the most consistent in a menstrual cycle. After the egg is released, it moves down the fallopian tube to the uterus."
Irregular Menstrual Cycles
A few more facts about your menstrual cycle. It is common to have a regular (same days between menstrual cycles) cycle most of the time and be irregular occasionally. So if you normally get your period every thirty days, and twice a year, you get it thirty four days apart, this is considered in the range of normal.
Menstruating regularly indicates that your hormones and your endometrial lining (special tissue on the inside of the uterus) are functioning properly. Particularly the endometrial lining which when it sheds, is what we refer to as "bleeding". Technically, it's not really bleeding, it's the endometrial lining tissue shedding or releasing.
If you typically get ten menstrual cycles a year, then that is in the range of normal. If you are only getting your period every other month or upwards of every forty-five days or even less frequently, you should consider a gynecological visit. While irregular menstrual cycles are very common, checking it out is always a good idea.
One last tip. There are many applications (apps) that you can use to keep track of your period. It's a great way to stay on top of an important aspect of your reproductive health.
Seeing your primary care doctor and your Obstetrician/Gynecologist once a year is crucial. Asking questions during your visit regarding your menstrual cycle will reassure you that things are as they should be. If your doctor suggests medication to regulate your menstrual cycle, ask questions. It's important to find out why you are not menstruating normally before you go on medication. Even if you are not ready to become pregnant, and will not be for a long time, understanding how your body is functioning is just good owner care. And being prepared for when you do want to become pregnant is good family planning.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.