All women have periods but still the most confusing part of periods is tracking the period dates. The exact information of the dates and events of the human menstrual cycle is of utmost importance. Not only for family planning, knowing the dates of your periods can help you to plan tasks and schedules.
There are ample of methods that exist, which can be used to track periods. But today, we shall be talking about the easiest method that requires no gadget or lofty scientific knowledge. Yes guys, it is the calendar method. All you need to track period using this method are a calendar and a pen.
How to calculate the dates of your periods
A complete menstrual cycle ranges from 28 to 36 days. This length is determined on the basis of the general observation seen in most women. There are exceptions to this length. It may be normal at times but can also be indicative of some physiological disorders.
The first day of your periods is considered as day 1 of the cycle. On an average, the menstrual phase of the cycle, that is, the number of days you have your periods (menstrual bleeding) is around 4-7.
So, calculating from day 1, the whole menstrual cycle is of a span of 28 days. The first 5 days can be considered as menstrual phase. The 14th day of the cycle is approximately the day when you ovulate and the hormonal levels are at peak.
The hormonal levels start to subside by the 25th day, and in the last 3 days, the endometrium degenerates followed by menstrual bleeding and the onset of another new cycle.
So, if you want to calculate the date of your next period using a calendar, then follow the steps given below –
1. Mark the dates of your periods on a calendar and designate the first day of periods as day 1.
2. Now check out the first day of your next period.
3. Calculate the time gap between the two periods.
4. Repeat this for at least 6 sets of cycles.
5. You will be able to estimate the length of your monthly cycle.
6. So, every time you have your periods, you only need to add the number of your cycle days to it and you will get the exact date of your next periods.
There are two things you need to know about this rhythm method:
Firstly, you might not always have the periods on the exact same date as it is a hormonally influenced physiological phenomenon, which is subjected to various other health factors.
Secondly, you can only be sure about the length of your cycle after a thorough observation of about 6 times and no less than that. The observation of your pattern of cycle is extremely important before you make any judgement.
Here’s an example of period date calculation
Let us suppose that a female subject had her periods on 3rd December.
Then, 3rd December is considered as day 1 of the cycle.
4th December as day 2 and so on.
Then, 31st December is the 28th day so, your next period should start from 31st December. That is how you should calculate your periods.
See this calendar to have a better idea on how to calculate your next period –
– The dates marked as dark pink are the dates inspected of having periods.
– December 3rd is the first date that is marked in dark pink indicating that it is the first date of having period.
– 3 to 7 are all marked in same color indicating that these are the days that menstruation occurred.
– Taking 3rd December as day 1 of the cycle, it is estimated that the next period will occur on 31st December which will be the 1st day after a 28 days cycle.
This specific figure demarcates the cycle length as 28 days, however, it may vary from subject to subject.
Cycle length ranging from 28 to 35 days is completely normal.
Why do you need to track your periods
The tracking of the menstrual cycle and to be more precise, the dates for your next periods is of prime importance for a myriad of reasons.
Firstly, when you have an estimated approximation of the dates for your next period, you can plan the ensuing events accordingly.
Mostly, all of us want to avoid any long and strenuous work on the days of the periods. So, if you know from beforehand when you are going to have your periods, it becomes so easy to make schedules.
Secondly, for those women who are going for family planning, it is essential that you have a proper idea about the various events of your reproductive cycle. This helps to determine the proper time for copulation.
Also, it is essential to track the proper dates of having sex if you want to prevent unwanted conceptions.
Tracing the history of calendar method
Nowadays, lots of mobile applications and digital methods are available that can give you fair idea about the dates of your periods. But, when these were not available, all the women universally used the calendar method of period dates calculation. This natural method was also called the rhythm method.
If we look at the history of the development of the calendar method, we shall be surprised to see the scientific aptitude that existed in people even centuries back.
The ancient Greeks and Jews had a good knowledge about the menstrual cycle and even predicted the fertile days of the cycle for successful conceptions. The first ever formalized calendar method as period tracker was put forward by John Smulders in the year 1930.
He was a Roman Catholic physician. On the basis of observations and knowledge of the human body, he carefully formulated this method.
Even a few decades back, this natural rhythm method was the only one that was known to track periods. The people of primitive era extensively used this method to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
As per the western beliefs in the medieval eras, this method was used to formulate when a woman could become pure (menstruation was considered impurity) for having a child again. Later on, many eminent scientists worked on this, and validated this method but with better and advanced scientific approaches.
The phases and physiology of menstruation were discovered and accordingly it opened an all new arena in the field of reproductive health.
Inspite of the invention of numerous apps and devices for period tracking, this calendar method is the most widely accepted one due to its simplicity, cost effectiveness, and ease of use.
Physiology of menstrual cycle
Now, let us come to the underlying physiological process of the menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle also called the ovarian cycle in humans is the female reproductive cycle. This cycle that takes place essentially in all women is divided into a number of phases.
- Menstrual phase
- Follicular phase
- Ovarian phase
- Luteal phase
Now, the menstrual cycle can be assessed from two perspectives. The changing levels of hormones induces changes in the ovaries as well as in the endometrial lining of the uterus.
In the menstrual phase, the degenerated endometrial lining of the uterus is shed away from the body. The endometrium was prepared with lots of blood vessels prior to its break off and hence the menstrual discharge is composed of blood and mucus as well as the endometrial cells.
After the menstrual phase is over, comes the follicular phase. This phase lasts for about 7 days roughly. During this phase, the follicles in the ovary starts to mature again. The collapsed layer of the endometrium also starts to proliferate to give rise to a new layer of endometrium.
On approximately the 14th day of the cycle, the egg is released from one of the mature follicles of the ovary that is called the graafian follicle. The ovum stays alive in the female reproductive tract for the next 24 hours.
During this time, if any sperm can gain entry into the female reproductive tract and fertilize the ovum, it will lead to the formation of zygote.
The activities going on in the ovaries as well as in the endometrium are highly coordinated by female hormones. The principle female hormones that regulate this interplay are Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) that are the pituitary hormones and progesterone estrogen that are the ovarian hormones.
This is actually the time between ovulation and before the start of your period.
The onset of menstrual cycle in young girls is called menarche. It is the onset of puberty and indicates that the girl has become re-productively mature.
At around the age of 50, the menstrual cycle ceases in women and this is called menopause. Menopause is accompanied with a lot of emotional turmoil and stress for women like hot flushes and mood swings.
Clinical applications of tracking the period dates
Tracking the periods are extremely useful in providing back up justification for the mood swings, change in eating behavior, and most importantly in assessing the Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS).
Almost all the women suffer from pre-menstrual syndrome that is the term which is used to refer to the common symptoms seen in women just a few days prior to the onset of menstruation.
These symptoms include bloating, mood swings, cramps, abdominal pains, and feeling of heaviness. If you can properly track the dates of your periods, you shall observe that every month just before your periods are about to start, during the luteal phase of your cycle, these symptoms seem to be more prominent.
Various types of psychological phenomenon are also corelated with the dates and phases of periods. The craving for sweet dishes during the periods and the affinity for attractive smell from the men’s body during the ovulation phase can be reasoned out if the menstrual cycle is tracked properly and carefully.
It is important to track your cycle when you are trying to get pregnant or avoid unwanted pregnancies
The widest applications of tracking period dates can be seen in family planning. If you can form a proper idea about the rhythm of your menstrual cycle, then it becomes easy to assess the correct time for intercourse.
If you are planning to have a conception, then it is best advised to have intercourse during the time of ovulation that is around the 14th day of the cycle.
On the contrary, if you are planning to prevent unwanted pregnancies, it is advisable that you have the intercourse during the non-fertile days, that is, either at least 3 days prior to ovulation or at least 4 days after ovulation.
Various pills related to the reproductive health of women are extremely sensitive and subjected to administration only on particular days of the menstrual cycle. Therefore, the proper knowledge of the menstrual cycle is of utmost importance.
For the successful execution of various assisted reproductive technologies, the dates of the menstrual cycle is very important as it helps the physician to have the fair idea about the various phases of the cycle and carry out the process accordingly.
Drugs related to PCOD and other disorders are highly sensitive to the phase of administration and hence requires the proper idea of period dates.
Abnormal menstrual cycle can be detected at the very early stage if any woman follows this calendar method successively and properly. This enhances the chances of any disorder getting diagnosed at the earliest possible stage. So, this is beneficial for the reproductive health of women.
Given below are a few common signs that your next period is approaching
1. Abdominal cramps are the most common signs and an integral component of PMS that almost every woman faces.
2. Constipation and severe bowel clearance issues can also be an indication of approaching periods.
3. Bloating and heaviness
4. The breasts become sore and tender sometimes followed by minor pain.
5. Mood swings are also one of the key symptoms of approaching periods. This is caused by the fluctuating level of hormones and physical irritations faced during this time.
Periods are a completely natural phenomenon just like any other bodily process. It is nothing impure or sinful to be ashamed of.