February can be viewed as both a blessing and a curse: While it’s one of the coldest months of the year, it’s also only 28 days long. Blink, then it’s on to March, and spring is so close you can almost smell the flowers. Yet there’s the feeling that shaving two or three days off of a usual 30- or 31-day month or even a leap year can affect your period, sometimes in a negative way. If you’re one of those people who’s concerned that February could mess up your period — especially if you tend to bleed toward the end of the month — let me be the first to tell you: Your period doesn’t know when it’s February.
According to Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, director of perinatal services at NYC Health and Hospitals/Lincoln, who's double board-certified in OB/GYN and maternal fetal medicine, your menstrual cycle has nothing to do with what month it is, nor how many days are in that month. “The length of a month is not going to change the frequency of your period,” Dr. Gaither tells Elite Daily. A normal menstrual cycle is 28 days on average, but can be anywhere from every 21 to 35 days, and it is not dependent on calendar dates.
If you’ve noticed your period changing its ETA from January to February, though, that could simply be because there’s always going to be some variation to your menstrual cycle. (Just because you got your last period at 10 a.m. on Jan. 5 doesn’t mean your next one will start at exactly 10 a.m. on Feb. 5.) Your cycle varies from month to month, and the length of a normal, healthy period can last anywhere from one to seven days, says Ann Mullen, the director of health education at Cycle Technologies. So if your period came on the eighth of the month for a few months in a row, then you get it on the sixth the following month, you’re not necessarily “early.” The timing of your period might just be changing ever so slightly, and that’s completely normal.
All of these questions speak to the value of tracking your period, Mullen says. "When you track your cycles, it helps you to understand your own natural variability and to pay attention to that and not to calendar months," Mullen explains. Once you track your period for a few cycles, you’ll have a better grasp of how long your menstrual cycle is, so you can predict when you might start bleeding next.
If you want to start tracking your menstrual cycles manually, begin counting on the first day of your cycle, and stop on the first day of your following period. You could log your period cycle the old-fashioned way, using a traditional journaling method. Or you might want to try using a dedicated period-tracking app, which obstetrician-gynecologist Maureen Whelihan recommends, as they also allow you to log other key details about your flow.
“Most of the apps are laid out like calendars, but some have extra features,” Whelihan tells Elite Daily. “For example, some of the apps let you indicate the heaviness of your bleeding, as well as your PMS symptoms. There are others that remind you to take your birth-control pill, which is great, because part of the problem with taking birth control is remembering to do it.” Some period-tracking apps even predict your fertility based on the data you log, which can be useful if you’re trying to get pregnant, or trying to avoid it.
If you’re inspired to learn more about your menstrual cycle — throughout the month of February and beyond — by tracking your periods, start by looking into Clue, Glow, and Flo, which are among the most popular apps.
Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, director of perinatal services at NYC Health and Hospitals/Lincoln
Maureen Whelihan, OBGYN
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