Understanding the menstrual cycle allows you to make informed decisions about health and family planning. The first day of the menstrual cycle is often asked by doctors or other medical personnel. You can calculate the first day of your menstrual cycle easily through a few simple steps.
Method 1 of 3: Determining the First Day of Menstruation
Step 1. Understand what a menstrual cycle is
Menstruation begins in a woman's life after reaching puberty and becoming fertile. The menstrual cycle is divided into several phases (follicular, ovulatory, and luteal) and the first day of the cycle marks the luteal phase which involves the shedding of the blood layer from the uterine wall through the vagina, known as menstruation or menstruation.
- Menstrual cycles tend to occur every 21–35 days in adult women and 21–45 days in adolescent girls. The cycle is counted from the first day of menstruation to the first day of the next menstruation.
- The menstrual cycle is associated with fluctuations in levels of estrogen, luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicular stimulating hormone (FSH). In the first half of the cycle (follicular phase), the body is rich in estrogen and the uterine lining thickens in preparation for fertilization.
- In the middle of the cycle, the ovary releases an egg into the fallopian tube. This phase is called ovulation. Fertilization can occur if sexual intercourse is carried out in the days leading up to ovulation. If it occurs at the time of ovulation, the chances of getting pregnant are small because there is not enough time for the sperm to reach the egg.
- If the egg released during the ovulatory phase is not fertilized and implants in the uterine lining, progesterone and estrogen levels drop, causing the uterus to shed its thickened lining during the luteal phase.
Step 2. Know the first day of your cycle
By knowing the first day of your cycle, you can make informed decisions regarding health and family planning. To determine the first day of your period and the length of your cycle, start by numbering the days in your cycle from the first day of your next period.
- The first day of the cycle coincides with the start of menstruation. Therefore, mark the calendar with an "X" on the day your period starts.
- On average, blood tends to come out for three to five days, but it can vary from person to person.
- On the seventh day of the menstrual cycle, blood usually decreases and the ovaries begin to form follicles in preparation for ovulation. This is due to an increase in estrogen between the fourth and seventh day.
Step 3. Track your period for several months
By tracking your period from the first day of your cycle, you can learn about general trends in your menstrual cycle and determine the first day of your next period.
- On average, most women's menstrual cycle is 28 days. That is, there are 28 days between each first day of menstruation.
- However, your menstrual cycle may be slightly shorter or longer (adult women tend to have cycles lasting 21–35 days. So you will need to track your period for several months to determine the length of your cycle.
- As long as your periods are regular with approximately the same cycle intervals, it means that your menstrual cycle is healthy.
- You can track your menstrual cycle by making notes on your calendar or, if you prefer, using phone apps like iMensies and Fertility Friend.
Step 4. Determine the first day of your next period
By knowing the length of your cycle, you can predict when your next period will start.
- Once you've tracked your period and determined your cycle length, you can start marking your calendar to determine the first day of your next period.
- For example, if your cycle is 28 days long, mark your calendar (starting with the first day of your next period) with an "X" every 28 days, to estimate the first day of your next period.
- If you take hormonal birth control pills, your cycle is usually 28 days due to pill scheduling. Each pill pack contains 21 active hormonal pills and 7 sugar pills. On the day the active hormonal pill wears off, your period will usually start. Your period lasts seven days (or less) and during that time you take a sugar pill.
- If you take longer or continuous birth control pills, your periods will be less frequent. Seasonale contains 84 active pills and 7 inactive pills. In this case, your cycle is 91 days.
Method 2 of 3: Watching for Signs of an Coming Period
Step 1. Recognize that premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is normal
Most women experience symptoms one to two weeks before the first day of their period. These symptoms usually disappear after menstruation comes. PMS varies from person to person and it can be helpful to keep track of your symptoms while tracking your period.
- Most women experience at least one PMS symptom as part of the menstrual cycle.
- PMS symptoms are felt both physically and emotionally.
Step 2. Watch out for mood swings
Many women suddenly feel whiny, anxious, moody, or depressed before their period. You may also be tired and irritable. If your mood swings don't end after your period starts, or if you find that your daily life is disrupted, see your doctor.
30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise and strength training on two or more days a week can help with depression and fatigue you may be feeling
Step 3. Watch for gastrointestinal problems
Before your period, you may experience bloating, constipation, fluid retention, or diarrhea. This can lead to weight gain before your period. Again, these symptoms should stop within four days of starting your period. See a doctor if symptoms persist.
- You can limit your salt intake and eat smaller portions, but more often, to reduce bloating and fluid retention.
- Diuretics can help the body excrete excess fluids and reduce bloating and weight gain. Medications such as Pamprin and Midol contain diuretics.
Step 4. Watch for physical changes
Common menstrual symptoms are swollen breasts, joint or muscle pain, and headaches. You can take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen to relieve these symptoms.
Acne is also one of the physical symptoms that often appear before menstruation
Step 5. Know when to see a doctor
If you have five or more symptoms, and feel that PMS is interfering with your daily activities, you may actually have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Doctors may prescribe antidepressants, pain medications, or Yaz pills to manage symptoms.
- Counseling and therapy can also help with the emotional aspects of PMDD.
- You should also see your doctor if your symptoms don't go away after your period starts, or you start to notice a change in the frequency or volume of your symptoms.
Method 3 of 3: Understanding Menstrual Problems
Step 1. Know when you should talk to your doctor about your period
If you have experienced any health problems related to menstruation, be sure to talk to your doctor. You should be consulted if your menstrual cycle is abnormal or suddenly abnormal. Some of the factors that should be discussed with the doctor are:
- If you haven't had your period by the time you're 15, talk to your doctor as there may be a hormonal imbalance affecting the rest of your body.
- If your period is very painful and you have heavy bleeding or it lasts longer than a week.
- If your period is irregular, late, or bleeding between cycles.
Step 2. Recognize the signs of amenorrhoea
Amenorrhea is menstruation stops or does not occur. Women should have their period by the age of 15 and if you or your daughter has not had her first period by this age, consult a doctor.
- If you have missed your period for more than three cycles after a regular period, you may have secondary amenorrhea. Secondary amenorrhea is a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome. The most common cause of secondary amenorrhea is pregnancy.
- Amenorrhea can occur if you are unwell and your body is unable to support regular periods. This may result from excessive stress, hormonal disturbances, or eating disorders.
- If the amenorrhea is related to hormones, fertility is at risk. Talk to your doctor right away, especially if you are concerned about polycystic ovary syndrome.
Step 3. Find out if you have dysmenorrhea
Dysmenorrhea is an unbearable pain. You can use over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, to relieve very painful cramps, but if the condition persists, talk to your doctor.
- In adolescents and young women, dysmenorrhea is usually caused by excessive amounts of prostaglandins. The amount of this hormone can be regulated by eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight.
- In older women, dysmenorrhea occurs due to a serious medical condition, such as endometriosis, fibroids, or adenomyosis.
Step 4. Recognize abnormal vaginal bleeding
You should know what a normal period feels like if you have had regular periods before. Watch for abnormal bleeding. Talk to your doctor right away if your bleeding isn't normal.
- Discomfort and bleeding after sex are signs of a serious medical problem. Be sure to talk to your doctor if sexual intercourse causes you to bleed.
- Spots that come out between periods and heavy bleeding during menstruation can cause discomfort and are also warning signs that should not be ignored.
Step 5. Know what causes abnormal periods
There are several factors that can cause abnormal menstruation. Normal menstruation can be achieved by maintaining a healthy weight and discussing possible diseases with your doctor.
- Ovarian dysfunction can cause hormonal dysfunction and make menstruation abnormal. Two examples are polycystic ovary syndrome and premature ovarian failure.
- Abnormalities of reproductive structures caused by disease or infection can also cause abnormal menstruation. Ask your doctor to check for endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or uterine fibroids.
- Excessive stress, underweight, and eating disorders take a toll on the body and disrupt the normality of the menstrual cycle.
Step 6. See a doctor
Every year, you should have a pelvic exam to ensure that menstrual irregularities are diagnosed as soon as possible. By tracking your period and monitoring your symptoms, you are helping your doctor make the right diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. Doctors may prescribe oral contraceptives or progesterone to treat irregular periods.
- Counting the days from the start of one period to the next is sufficient to determine the length of the menstrual cycle. Collect this information over several months to find out the average cycle length, then use that data in planning.
- By day one, you may notice changes in your mood and other signs of PMS.