Since July 2011 I’ve been keeping a ‘period diary’, hoping to find some trends in my menstrual cycles. I’ve just done some amateur analysis of the diary so far & my conclusions are below.
I had some pain with each period, ranging from ‘mild’ to ‘bad’, but about 68% of my periods involved cramps that were ‘mild’ or ‘mild/moderate’.
|PAIN LEVEL||PROPORTION OF PERIODS|
23% of my periods were accompanied by nausea. If I felt nauseous there was a 29% chance that I would vomit as well.
Nausea appears to be positively correlated with the amount of pain:
|PAIN LEVEL||CHANCE OF NAUSEA|
NB:When I was aged about 13 – 16 years old I didn’t experience any nausea with my periods at all (even when I had really painful periods). The nausea and vomiting that now accompanies some of my periods (particularly the more painful ones) started around the time I was 17 years old. These days nausea seems to occur more frequently with my more painful periods, however I can still experience a lot of nausea at times with very mild periods (as I did in May 2012).
29% of my periods involved me being woken up (or kept awake) in the early hours of the morning. I usually had to get up for a hot water bottle & ibuprofen, then I’d go back to bed and lie awake for a couple of hours until my cramps stopped.
|Loss of sleep||29%|
|No loss of sleep||71%|
LENGTH OF PERIOD CYCLES:
The chart below indicates that the average menstrual cycle length for me is 27 or 28 days, and that my cycles are fairly regular. About 60% of my cycles from 2011-2013 were either 27 or 28 days long.
For some reason my period cycles were all over the place in 2010 (ranging from between 19 days to 34 days), however from 2011-2013 my cycles have been more predictable (ranging from 25 days to 31 days).
According to Wikipedia my period cycles between 2011-2013 were normal (because the length variation was less than eight days); however Wikipedia indicates that my period cycles during 2010 were ‘moderately irregular’ for two reasons: (1) the cycle length variation for me that year was 15 days (length variations between 8 and 20 days are considered moderately irregular cycles); and (2) One of my cycles that year was only 19 days long (a single menstruation period may be defined as irregular if it is shorter than 21 days, or longer than 36 days).
CAN I PREDICT THE PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS OF MY PERIODS IN ADVANCE?
I was hoping that I would discover a trend that would help me predict how likely it would be for me to have really bad cramps or nausea/vomiting with my next period. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any trend like that.
In particular, I had a really bad period in March 2013 that was a big surprise as it came pretty much on schedule, and was preceded and followed by quite mild periods. I’ve only had one other period in the last 8 years that was that bad (none of my other periods over those years have come close). I wish I could predict when I was going to have a really painful period. That seems like something I should be able to predict. There are obviously at times differences in my body that result in the increased pain, I just don’t know how to observe those differences (or do anything to prevent them).
Two of the questions/hypothesizes that I had when starting my period diary are below:
1) Is the amount of blood loss correlated with pain?
My periods seem to vary a lot in heaviness from cycle to cycle. I think the best way for me to work out the quantity of actual fluid loss each cycle would have been to tip all the fluid loss (each time I emptied my menstrual cup) into a glass jar and weigh the jar at the end of each period. However this was very difficult to do (especially when I was at work). Therefore I didn’t collect any data about the amount of blood loss with each of my periods.
However I observed that sometimes when I had very light periods my menstrual cup could last for 13 hours on the first day of my period (which is usually the heaviest day) without needing to be changed. During normal periods I would normally need to empty my cup after about 7 hours on the first day (and ocassionally I would get random ‘flooding’ moments, when I would lose a lot of blood quickly and suddenly my cup would get full, sometimes less than 45 minutes after I had previously emptied it, and start leaking, needing to be emptied).
As far as I can tell, the heaviness of my periods (from cycle to cycle) does not seem to be correlated with pain. Some of my lightest periods have been accompanied by very painful cramps.
2) Is menstrual cycle irregularity correlated with pain?
I was curious to find out whether or not my periods were more painful when my menstrual cycle was more ‘random’/irregular. I assumed that this might be true because an irregular cycle seems wrong (like my body is not doing its job properly). However as far as I can tell there is no correlation between cycle length and pain for me. My cycles have been very regular from 2011-2013, however they were somewhat irregular in 2010. Unfortunately I didn’t keep any notes about my physical symptoms during 2010 (I just kept a record of the cycle lengths).