How to Calculate Your Cycle Length

Calculating your menstrual cycle is an easy task that can tell you a lot about your body. By looking at the number of days between the start of your periods, you can get a better idea of when you are most fertile and your overall reproductive health. In addition, tracking your flow, your symptoms, and any irregularities in your cycle can help you get more in tune with your body, and provide you with warnings of possible medical complications.

EditSteps

EditCounting Days Between Periods

  1. Start counting on the first day of your period. To get an accurate depiction of your menstrual cycle, start counting on the first day of your period. Make a note on your calendar or in a menstrual cycle monitoring app when your period begins.[1]
    Calculate Your Cycle Length Step 01 Version 3.jpg
    • Smartphone apps such as Clue, Glow, Eve, and Period Tracker are designed to help you monitor your menstrual cycle, ovulation, and other key points in your cycle. They can be an easy and data-driven means of monitoring your cycle length.[2]
  2. Count up to the day before you start your next period. Your count resets on day 1 of your menstrual cycle. This means that your count for each cycle should end on the day before your next period. Include a count for the day before your period starts, but do not include the start date of your period, even if it starts later in the day.[3]
    Calculate Your Cycle Length Step 02 Version 3.jpg
    • If, for example, your cycle started on March 30 and your next period came on April 28, your cycle would be March 30 to April 27, and would total 29 days.
  3. Monitor your cycle for at least 3 months. The length of your menstrual cycle may vary from month to month. If you want an accurate depiction of your average cycle length, monitor your cycle for at least 3 months. The longer you monitor your cycle, the more representative your average will be.[4]
    Calculate Your Cycle Length Step 03 Version 3.jpg
  4. Calculate your average cycle length. Find the average for the length of your cycle using the numbers you collected while counting your period. You can recalculate this every month to get a more accurate depiction of your general cycle length. Remember, though, that the average shows a trend—it doesn’t definitively represent the length of your next cycle.[5]
    Calculate Your Cycle Length Step 04 Version 3.jpg
    • To find the average, add the total number of days of your cycle for each month that you have monitored. Then, divide that total by the number of months you monitored. This will give you your average cycle length.
    • For example, you had a 28 day cycle in April, a 30 day cycle in May, a 26 day cycle in June, and a 27 day cycle in July, your average would be (28+30+26+27)/4, equalling a 27.75 day average cycle.
  5. Continue to track your cycle. Keep tracking your cycle every month. Even if you pass a certain target, such as getting pregnant, keeping track of your cycle throughout your life can help you know when something is off. Medical professionals often ask for information about your cycle, as well. Monitoring your periods and cycle length will help you provide the most accurate information possible.[6]
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    • If your doctor asks you the date of your last period, the answer is the first day of your last period, not the day it ended.[7]

EditMonitoring Your Period

  1. Watch your flow. Very heavy menstrual flows can be an indication of other problems. It may even lead to its own problems, such as anemia and lethargy. While you track your cycle, keep an eye on what days your flow is heavy, normal, and light. In most cases, you don’t need to measure the quantity of blood. Instead, estimate by looking at what type of menstrual products you are using (super tampons, regular pads, etc.) and how often you need to change out those products.[8]
    Calculate Your Cycle Length Step 06 Version 3.jpg
    • If, for example, you have to change a super tampon every hour, you may have an irregularly heavy flow.
    • Keep in mind that most women will have heavier days and lighter days. It is normal to have different levels of flow on different days.
    • The severity of flow varies greatly from person to person. A heavier or lighter cycle isn’t inherently problematic. Instead, watch for very heavy cycles or completely skipped periods, which may be an indicator of another medical issue.[9]
  2. Note changes in your mood, energy, and body prior to and during your cycle. PMS and PMDD can do anything from make you a little cranky to make it difficult to function. Knowing when these symptoms are most likely to hit can help you better plan and cope. Take note of any extreme mood changes, changes in energy level and appetite, and physical symptoms such as headaches, cramps, and breast tenderness in the days leading up to and during your cycle.[10]
    Calculate Your Cycle Length Step 07 Version 3.jpg
    • If your symptoms are extreme enough that they make daily functioning difficult, contact your doctor. They may be able to help you find a solution or proper management program.
    • If you notice symptoms suddenly happening that you have never experienced before, such as severe lethargy, you may also want to contact your doctor. In some cases, these could be an indicator of a larger medical issue.
  3. Seek medical help for any sudden, major changes. Different people naturally have different cycles. Your cycle isn’t problematic just because it doesn’t follow the same pattern as someone else. Sudden or major changes to your cycle, though, are often an indicator of larger medical problems. Contact your doctor or OB-GYN if your period suddenly gets very heavy or disappears completely.[11]
    Calculate Your Cycle Length Step 08 Version 3.jpg
    • You should also contact a medical professional if you experience severe cramping, migraines, lethargy, or depression in the days leading up to and during your cycle.
    • Your doctor will be able to talk to you about your symptoms and run tests as necessary to see if changes in your cycle may be related to medical issues such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, thyroid disorders, or ovarian failure, among others.

EditTracking Your Ovulation by Cycle Length

  1. Find the midpoint of your menstrual cycle. Ovulation typically occurs around the midpoint of your menstrual cycle. Count the halfway point in your average cycle to give you an idea of what the midpoint of your next cycle might be.[12]
    Calculate Your Cycle Length Step 09 Version 3.jpg
    • So if you have a 28 day average cycle, your midpoint would be at 14 days. If you have a 32 day average cycle, your midpoint would be at 16 days.
  2. Add 5 days before ovulation. If you are trying to get pregnant, the 5 days before ovulation are just as important as the day of ovulation. Your chances of getting pregnant increase when you engage in sexual activity 5 days prior to ovulation, as well as the probable date of ovulation.[13]
    Calculate Your Cycle Length Step 10 Version 3.jpg
    • Your egg can be fertilized up to 24 hours after it is released, and sperm can live in the fallopian tube for up to 5 days after sex. Having sex 5 days prior to ovulation, as well as on the day of ovulation, helps give your egg the best chance of fertilization.
  3. Use an ovulation predictor kit if you have irregular cycles. If your cycles are irregular, monitoring ovulation by charting your cycle length might not be the most accurate. Using an ovulation predictor kit may be the most accurate method if you have irregular periods.[14]
    Calculate Your Cycle Length Step 11.jpg
    • Ovulation predictor kits are available from most pharmacies and drug stores, as well as online retailers.

EditSources and Citations

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