The menstrual cycle is broken down into five phases: menstruation, the proliferative phase, the fertile window, and the early and late luteal stages. The menstrual cycle begins with menstruation – also known as a period.
After ovulation, which occurs during the fertile window, your levels of the hormone progesterone spike. This hormone thickens the lining of the uterus in preparation for a fertilized egg. If you don’t conceive, your body will recognize that there is no fertilized egg, and your progesterone levels will drop. This triggers a period, and a new menstrual cycle. During your period, your uterine lining and the unfertilized egg are shed as a flow of blood and tissue, and your body begins preparing a new egg for ovulation. When you near the end of your period, your estrogen levels will begin to rise in order to stimulate the egg follicles developing in your ovaries so that that the cycle can continue.
The average menstrual cycle length is 29 days, with the average period lasting between three and seven days and ovulation occurring at around day 14. But really, there’s a wide range of period length and frequency that’s considered “regular.” A cycle length of between 21 and 35 days, and a period length of between two to seven days is considered normal. If you fall outside of this range, or if your period differs from month to month, you might have an irregular period.
What does this mean for fertility?
Because of the possibility of variation from woman to woman, and from cycle to cycle, sometimes ovulation and the fertile window can be difficult to predict. Women with predictable cycles can use the dates of their periods to help predict when they’ll ovulate and, in turn, when their fertile windows occur. Although it’s more difficult to estimate when your fertile window will occur if you have an irregular period, Ovia is still able to predict when you might be most fertile by tracking your periods, physical symptoms, moods, and other data. Having a record of the details of your cycle can help you better understand if there is some sort of pattern to your periods. Tracking your period and other symptoms can help you predict when you’re most fertile, which can help you get pregnant faster.
How do I track my cycle?
If you’re a new Ovia user, the app automatically projects the dates and duration of your next few periods based on the information you provide at signup about the average length of your period, and how regular or irregular your cycle is. These projected periods will appear on your calendar as gray droplets. Ovia projects your upcoming periods over the next two to three months (depending on your cycle length) and will then enhance and update these projections based on the information you log and track, including the trends and averages of your periods.
To track your period, if you’re menstruating, choose “period” on the data tracking screen. You can also click on a day on your calendar to be brought to this same screen. Alternately, if nothing much is happening down below, choose “nothing” and if you’re spotting, choose “spotting.” You’ll also want to log details of your flow (whether “light,” “medium,” or “heavy”), mood, symptoms, and more.
On the other hand, if Ovia correctly predicted your upcoming period on a particular day, just tap that day in your calendar to confirm that you got your period, to turn the droplet symbol from gray (projected) to red (actual). If not, tap “no period” and save to remove the period. If your period arrives a bit earlier or later than expected (or not at all, if you’re pregnant!), as long as you log this data, Ovia will then shift your next projected periods accordingly.
Logging your actual period data each month is the best way to adjust Ovia’s predictions and help create period and fertility projections that will be most accurate for you.