5 things you didn’t know about tracking periods
You may have heard of apps that track your period. Me and my friends are being bombarded with online ads for them (we must tick a few demographic boxes between us), but none of us really know what period tracking apps are or why we'd want to use them. So, I've spoken to one of the scientific researchers at Clue, a female health app, to find out more.
Why you might want to track your period
"Tracking your cycle allows you to better understand your overall health and it gives you the power to identify patterns that are unique to you. We know that finding safe, reliable information around female health online is difficult, which is why we launched Helloclue.com, the first dedicated female health information hub. It is vital to us that people are empowered to own and understand their bodies."
Tracking your period tells you what’s regular for YOU
"It is key to helping you feel in control of your menstrual health. While the global average for a cycle is 29 days, it might not apply to you; your cycles might be shorter or longer. Tracking your period will help you know what’s normal and regular for you, allowing you to spot any anomalies and see a doctor to get these addressed."
It can help you if you're trying for a baby
"There are a lot of misconceptions about when you are most likely to get pregnant. Some people think it’s only possible to get pregnant on the day of ovulation, which is not correct. Tracking your cycle can give you an indication of when you are most able to get pregnant. However, the best measure for this (more than an average) requires tracking things like basal body temperature, ovulation tests and/or cervical fluid."
It can help you understand your overall wellbeing
"Your menstrual cycle is a direct indicator of your overall health, as it impacts your body in so many different ways. For example, your period can affect your hair, skin and daily beauty regime. It can also tell you about your immune system and suggest underlying health conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome or endometriosis.
"Additionally, tracking your cycle may help you understand any irregularities in your period. For example, if you are feeling stressed during the first half of your cycle, your ovulation may happen later (this is because the levels of progesterone take longer to peak, which can result in a later period). The regularity of your cycle can also change due to high-intensity exercise or working irregular hours, such as night shifts. By tracking any changes you will know exactly what causes the irregularities and avoid unnecessary worry."
It can explain a lot about your sex drive
"Tracking your sex drive alongside your period can help your determine patterns in your cycle and hormone levels. For example, some women notice that their sexual desire spikes around ovulation, decreasing shortly after ovulation is complete. Some people might even experience more satisfaction around ovulation, although much more research is needed to prove this.
"It is also likely that your breasts feel different at different points in your cycle, being more sensitive to touch during the fertile window and sore after ovulation. Tracking cyclical breast changes can help you figure out the kind of touch you prefer at different points in your cycle."
It can teach you about your diet
"We know that what we eat directly affects our health, but there is also a relationship between food and the menstrual cycle. For example, if you have a low-iron diet and experience heavy menstrual bleeding, you might be more susceptible to iron deficiency anemia, meaning that you need to eat foods higher in iron. Or, people may eat more and also naturally burn more calories in the second half of the cycle (the luteal phase)."
With thanks to the researchers at Clue for their time and advice. If you have any concerns about your period, see your GP.