When I was first taught how to count my menstrual cycle, I was told:
“The first day of your cycle is after your period ends”
And I thought… wait… but sometimes my period is very light for the last couple days and all I have to wear is a pantiliner… does that still count as my “period”? Which day counts as the first?
When girls say “I’m on my period” or “I have my period”, we usually mean that we are bleeding. So when my sex-ed teacher said “The first day of your cycle is after your period ends”, I thought she meant when we stopped bleeding.
I now realize what she meant to say was that the first day of your period is when your period cycle ends and you start to bleed.
I was confused because my sex-ed teacher used the term “bleeding” and “period” and “cycle” interchangeably to mean the same things and to mean different things. Way to confuse a 10 year old!!! I was in grade five and had no idea what she was talking about.
FACT: THE FIRST DAY OF YOUR CYCLE IS THE DAY YOU START TO BLEED.
Okay okay enough story time. So keep reading and I will teach you how to count your period. It is quite simple actually.
You can mark the starts of your period on a calendar or school agenda, make a note in your cellphone, or use an online period trackers:
Or if you have a smartphone, there are even some apps:
An entire period cycle is on average 28 days.
DAY 1-7: The first day of your cycle is the day you start to bleed.
DAY 8-11: Your endometrial lining starts to thicken in preparation for ovulation. Your endometrial lining is basically your period before it’s out of your body.
DAY 11-15: Ovulation occurs and this is just a fancy word for your body releases an egg and plants it into the endometrium lining.
DAY 16-25: Your endometrial lining continues to thicken
DAY 25-28: The endometrial lining starts to shed or in other words detaches from your endometrium, resulting in YOUR PERIOD!! Cycle restarts at DAY 1. (This is of course assuming you do not become pregnant)
When I was taught this I thought, how does your body so accurately know regulate its hormones to bleed exactly every 28 days?
If we were to look at a sample of 100 randomly chosen girls, the average length of their cycles would be 28 days. Your cycle will probably not be exactly 28 days. It may be less or it may be more and this is completely normal.
My cycle used to be around 30 days. Now my period cycle is about 45 days.
If it is your first time getting your period, your period cycle may be irregular. This means that your periods may be early or late. Having your period is a big step in puberty and your body is just not used to this change yet. Your period will become less irregular in 1 – 2 years. (But obviously you know this because you pay attention in sex ed!)
If you are trying to become pregnant or trying to avoid pregnancy, the days inbetween each cycle are very important. Please see your doctor if you have any questions regarding pregnancy and pay attention in sex ed class!! It may be an uncomfortable class but you do not get many of those classes and those are the most important classes of your life and probably one of the few you will remember!
When I first started my period, I never counted the days. I was not sexually active so missing a period wasn’t a concern for me. But there are actually many reasons to start counting your period besides pregnancy.
Reasons to count your period:
- To get a sense of how long your menstrual cycle is
- …So you know when you can wear white pants or that really short skirt
- …So you can match your underwear to your pad or tampon of choice, ie. wear granny panties
- …To know when to carry pads and tampons
- …To know when your girl friends have their period (if you hang out around them enough, they will probably also be on the same cycle!)
Well I hope this post was helpful and I truly hope that sharing my own personal experiences will make you feel more comfortable to talk about your period even if it is talking about it with your mom or your doctor. I tried to make it as simple as possible so hopefully it was easy to understand for all the girls who just started their periods.
How do you track your period? Please share in the comments below!
The Period Blog does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, or treatment. Please check with your doctor regarding your personal health care decisions, and seek immediate care in emergencies. The Period Blog is not a substitute for medical or other professional care. If you are experiencing any problems with your period, please DO see your doctor! After all, it IS your uterus and you only get one.