Your menstruation cycle might not be something you think about daily. Once it’s out of sight, it might be out of mind, too. Until something doesn’t feel quite right. The length of your cycle shifts, the frequency or flow changes, or you aren’t sure if a light period or spotting really was an actual period. What if you can’t remember when you got it last? Could you be pregnant?
If you’re wondering about your last period and think you could be pregnant, take the first steps of finding out at Avenue Women’s Center. We offer free pregnancy tests and confidential consultations at each of our five Chicagoland locations. You don’t have to wonder on your own. Find compassionate and understanding support when you make your free appointment today!
For any of us that have entered the lovely womanhood world of menstruating, you’ve likely been asked the following question repeatedly at doctor visits: When was the first day of your last period? What if you don’t know? And why is this such a standard and vital question to ask?
Understanding Your Period
Learning your menstrual cycle is important to understanding what’s normal and not normal for you personally. Every woman’s body is different, and so are our cycles. Some might have shorter periods but heavier flows, and vice versa with longer, but lighter periods. For others, their cycles are irregular and difficult to keep track of. How can you tell what’s normal and what’s not?
The Office on Women’s Health sheds some light on this by explaining, “The typical menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but each woman is different. Also, a woman’s menstrual cycle length might be different from month-to-month. Your periods are still ‘regular’ if they usually come every 24 to 38 days.” Meaning, the time frame from the first day of your last period until the first day of your next period is at least 24 days and not longer than 38 days. However, during the first few years of menstruation it can be difficult to determine what’s normal. Periods can often be irregular, longer, and heavier. You might have more spotting in between periods as well. Additionally, periods can change with age, stress level, body weight, recent illness, or birth control cycles.
Regular checkups with your doctor and/or gynecologist can help in determining what’s normal for you and understanding your personal menstrual health. There are also several free phone apps to help you track your cycle and gain a better understanding of what’s regular versus irregular for you. So, while you may not remember the first day of your last period, a free app might be able to help you find the answer, along with several other answers about your period symptoms. You could also learn more about your menstruation by keeping a period journal, tracking cycle lengths, physical symptoms, and bleeding flows. It’s vital to know your own body, and learning more about your period is one way to understanding your personal health.
Periods and Pregnancy
You could be wondering about a possible pregnancy if you’ve missed a period or had spotting that you weren’t sure was a period or not. This is when tracking your period can be vital to helping you find answers. Many pregnancy tests can detect a pregnancy following a missed period or 10-14 days after conception, including our free medical-grade tests. It’s recommended to test with this time frame in mind for more accurate results, rather than testing too soon and getting an unclear answer. But how would you know the length of time from a missed period unless you were tracking it?
Additionally, conception can be estimated with information about your last period. Conception is often times difficult to determine, with many women not knowing the exact date for certain. “For a woman with a regular period, conception typically occurs about 11–21 days after the first day of the last period,” explains the American Pregnancy Association. So, while conception dates are typically estimates, knowing details about your last period can help you narrow things down for a better understanding.
Lastly, the first day of your last period is helpful in determining how far along a pregnancy might be, or the gestation age. Learning the gestation age can help you understand what pregnancy options are available to you as well. The farther along a pregnancy is, the less options might be available.
Wondering about a missed period and a possible pregnancy is not something you have to face alone. With over 35 years of helping women face unexpected pregnancies, Avenue Women’s Center has the experience and understanding to help support you. Our free, medical-grade pregnancy tests provide accurate results you can trust, while our knowledgeable and empathetic client advocates take the time to understand your personal pregnancy concerns. Find out more about your possible pregnancy and the options available to you. Reach out today and schedule your free appointment with us!
- American Pregnancy Association. (2017, March). Calculating Conception. Retrieved from: http://americanpregnancy.org/while-pregnant/calculating-conception-due-date/.
- American Pregnancy Association. (2018, October). Understanding Pregnancy Tests: Urine and Blood. Retrieved from: http://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/understanding-pregnancy-tests/
- Mayo Clinic. (2016, May). Menstrual Cycle: What’s Normal, What’s Not. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/menstrual-cycle/art-20047186.
- Office on Women’s Health (OWH). U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2018, March). Your Menstrual Cycle. Retrieved from: https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/your-menstrual-cycle.
Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.The information provided here is general in nature. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention. Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.