Pregnancy is not the only cause a woman may miss her period, but for sexually active women, it’s probably one of the first things we think of. Some women’s periods are like clockwork: every month on the same day or week. Other women have very irregular periods, anywhere from a variance of a week to a variance of a month or more. There have been PRC clients who only get a period every couple of months, and others who menstruate only a couple of times a year!
So, you can see why some women may be pregnant for a few months before they even register that they have missed their periods. While this is not the norm among our clients, it is generally encouraged that women track their cycles.
So, what’s the difference between a cycle and a period? A period is the part of the cycle when vaginal bleeding takes place; this means that the uterus is emptying because there’s no registered pregnancy. What happens during the time between periods? Hormones are working in the body to prepare for the release of an egg and the supporting of a pregnancy. If a pregnancy hasn’t implanted in the uterus, the following period starts.
Tracking a cycle is important because it can help a woman understand her body as it relates to pregnancy (when it is likely that pregnancy will occur) and as it relates to one’s general health. According to Dr. Urrutia at University of North Carolina
Irregular bleeding patterns can indicate a health issue. If you find that you are bleeding more frequently than every 21 days, bleeding less frequently than every 40 days, or having heavier than average periods that last eight days or longer, you should see a doctor. Tracking your cycles can also shed light on health issues that could happen in the future. Really long periods and PCOS are associated with increased rates of heart disease, diabetes and other long-term health risks. (healthtalk.unchealthcare.org accessed 4/19/21)
Tracking one’s cycle is very easy to do with the technology we have today. There are countless apps that can be used to track a cycle, and if you don’t like technology, all you need is a paper calendar and a pen to mark your last period and other symptoms you may be experiencing.