However, for many women, tracking periods and knowing when to expect it can be a nightmare. Although we’ve always heard that the ‘typical’ menstrual cycle is around 28 days, any menstruating woman can tell you that this is rarely the case.
With so many factors affecting what’s "normal" for you, how can we ever know when to expect our period and if there is a way to regulate it?
To help you navigate the struggle that can be menstrual bleeding, we’ve put together the need-to-know info on when you should expect your period.
What is normal, anyway?!
The easiest answer to the question of how often to expect your period is “every 28 days”. Whilst this is sort of accurate, studies have shown that normal menstrual cycles can fall anywhere between 21 and 40 days - that’s a pretty big window.
Working out when to expect your period is a pretty personal thing and depends on how long your menstrual cycle is and how long you bleed for. The key is figuring out what is normal for you.
Figuring out your cycle length doesn’t have to be complicated. Tracking the length of your menstrual cycle over a three month time frame should give you a good idea of your body’s rhythm.
Starting on day one of your cycle (the first day of bleeding) count each cycle day until the last cycle day before you start bleeding again. This will tell you how long your cycle is and from that you can make a judgement on when you should be expecting your period each month.
What factors can affect your period?
So many factors can affect your period, which is why it sometimes varies from month-to-month. Here are the most common factors that can affect how often you get your period:
- Your life stage
If you’ve just started menstruating, or you’re about to stop, it’s normal for your periods to be more irregular. In the first year of getting your periods and the final year approaching menopause, it’s normal to have more irregular periods.
Life can be stressful, and because the body’s reaction to stress involves hormones, it can mess with your menstrual cycle. Stress is one of the main contributors to missed or late periods, so if you’re feeling under the pump you might find your periods are delayed.
- Health issues
Physical illness and medical conditions can affect the regularity and length of your periods. Certain hormonal conditions such as thyroid issues and endometriosis can cause your periods to be irregular and heavier.
Pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriages, and abortions can affect your menstrual cycle. After any of these events it can take time for your cycle to find its feet again, so don’t be too concerned if your periods are irregular around a pregnancy.
How can you regulate your periods?
Many factors can affect how regular your periods are, so don’t be alarmed if your periods are less regular than you’d like. Over time, you should be able to establish what is normal for your body and use that as a guide.
If you find that your periods are really irregular, heavy, or completely unpredictable then it could be good to talk to a doctor. The pill can be a great solution to help regulate periods and get your body into a routine.
For more information on the contraceptive pill, take a look at our quick and easy guide to the pill.