For many women, their menstrual cycle will arrive each month, however, very few women understand exactly how they can accurately count their menstrual cycle. By counting your menstrual cycle you can plan ahead i.e. if you have a holiday planned, you can find out whether or not you are likely to have your period during this time.
Counting your menstrual cycle can also be very important if you are trying to have a baby; by determining when you are likely to be at your most fertile, you may stand a better chance of conceiving (barring any medical conditions that may affect your ability to conceive).
Menstrual cycle length is very often misunderstood, to get it right you will need to count your menstrual cycle from the start of one period to the start of the next.
As an example; day 1 of your menstrual cycle is the first day of your period (i.e. the day you actually start bleeding).
Generally speaking, a ‘normal’ menstrual cycle length is anywhere between 23 and 35 days, however, as every woman will differ, it is possible to have a menstrual cycle out of range i.e. if a women is not ovulating.
For this reason, if a menstrual cycle is shorter than 23 days or if it is much longer than 35 days, it can be a good idea to seek medical advice. Although this may be completely normal for your body, it is wise to rule out any potential problems, for example; menopause.
If you are worried about your menstrual cycle length i.e. if it changes in any way, a doctor or gynaecologist will be best placed to give you sound advice and if necessary perform a few quick medical procedures to check for any underlying causes.
If you are not currently on the pill and you do not use any other form of contraception, it is advisable to create a chart detailing your menstrual cycle. By doing this, you can time intercourse appropriately (often referred to as the "rhythm method") to avoid unwanted pregnancy, although it is vital to note that this is not a 100% accurate measure and ideally contraception of one form or another should be used.
The same rule applies if you are trying to get pregnant, it is vital to track your menstrual cycle, ideally using a chart, to give your body the best possible chance of getting pregnant.