That horribly evil time of the month again
November 14, 2006 7:46 PM   Subscribe

Female health filter: Any way of getting short term "notification" of your period? Of course,

I see my SO maybe every two weeks, oftentimes less. Two out of the last three times we've gotten together have been falling, irritatingly enough, during my period. I will be seeing him again soon, and it's dangerously close to the date.

Potentially TMI: last month/time I was three days late (stress delaying ovulation, I think), and if I stick to the schedule of last month, everything is fine and dandy. the day I'll be spending with him next, though, is the day when it should start normally. though my cycle isn't regular (I don't regulate it by chemical means, and it's just never settled down), by any means. it's usually within a two day range.

it would be rather embarassing if my period came in the middle of things, so I'd prefer being able to warn him off. any idea, whatsoever, on how to predict whether or it's coming, that particular day? I don't get very heavy cramps, and although I get a pretty hefty dose of PMS the day/night before, it's been stressful lately and I can't be sure I can base my judgement based on my mood alone...

many thanks!

[keep snipes about relationships based 'round bimonthly visit to yourselves, please and thank you :)]
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Too late to help this time, but this site can help you track all sorts of symptoms so that you can recognise relationships. Low tech version here.
posted by b33j at 8:08 PM on November 14, 2006

Have you talked to your gynecologist about your periods being irregular? It could be a symptom of another problem - mine have never been regular (for 13 years now!) and I was finally diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome and prescribed birth control pills to regulate my periods. Although now that I reread, a two-day range probably isn't that irregular.

Since mine have never been regular, I don't really get any warning. Fortunately my periods tend to start out pretty light, so that's sort of a warning before the heavier stuff starts.

Nowadays if you do start birth control, you can use that to determine whether or not you have a period in a given cycle (after discussing it with a doctor, of course!), so if it was scheduled to fall on one of your visits, you could just start the next pack early and skip your period for that month.
posted by srah at 8:10 PM on November 14, 2006

It gets recommended around here a lot, but I'll throw in another: read Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Your period will start pretty much two weeks (give or take a couple of days) after you ovulate, so if you know that information you'll be more prepared. Shorter and longer cycles happen when the date of ovulation shifts. As far as knowing any more accurately than that, though -- I don't know if that's possible.
posted by sugarfish at 8:15 PM on November 14, 2006

If you get a digital thermometer and take your (oral) temperature upon waking from tomorrow morning onwards (must be at the same time daily, and before you've gotten out of bed), that temperature will drop by approximately .3 to .7 on the day you'll get your period. Of course, if you've only got a few days till you see your guy, that might not be long enough to see a pattern (the daily temperature will fluctuate a bit). But if you get this book(same one sugarfish recommends above) and do the temp thing consistently, you'll be able to predict your period's arrival from now on, which is cool.
posted by xo at 8:18 PM on November 14, 2006

This probably won't help you (sorry) but I have a sort of internal alarm that goes off two days before my period. It's a vague little wondering at the back of my mind that whispers: 'Hey, it's been a while since you've had the place painted, hasn't it?'

I've had to teach myself to pay attention to it, but now it never lets me down. Which is good, because I never keep track of dates.
posted by Lucie at 8:20 PM on November 14, 2006 [3 favorites]

As a guy, I'm completely lacking in secret prescriptive pre-menstrual indicator methods to relate to your question. I'm just kicking in to say, menstrual periods aren't all that big a deal for most guys. Most of us are sympathetic if your periods cause you discomfort, and we don't want to get yelled at unduly if you're having bad PMS, but we don't think you are gross because you're menstruating.

No reason to get embarrassed that you're having a period, or that it's "inconvenient." We know you're not "scheduling" it, and even if you could, you couldn't schedule it for our "convenience" all the time, nor should you.

What's your attitude, and your guy's attitude about sex during your period? Some women grab a towel, and carry on, other women can't stand to be touched during their period. But I bet if you wanted to have vaginal sex during that time, you'd be met in bed. And if you wanted to have other kinds of sex, I bet you'd get cooperation, too. Have a little courage, and broach the subject, if you can. You might be pleasantly surprised by the result.
posted by paulsc at 8:33 PM on November 14, 2006

I know you aren't using anything to control your period, but have you considered it? My partner uses an Implanon implant, and has had one very minor period in the last two years, with no PMS issues. She's very happy with it.
posted by tomble at 9:02 PM on November 14, 2006

TMI alert (?)
I was horribly irregular for years. My doctor put me on the pill the regulate things, but had to keep switching which pill I was taking (based on the level of hormones). About two years ago I was two to three days on for every five to seven off - with no apparent illnesses or causes. Finally, she put me on the NuvaRing. At one point I was extra heavy for six days, then the wild irregularity - now I'm light enough for pantyliners for two to three days. I also know a woman that was on depro (the shot) for years without any period.

I can't tell by you're original post if you're against chemical regulation of your period, or it's just not something you do. If birth control is an option for you, talk to your doctor - there are lots of options out there... one may be right for regulating your cycle. This may not help for your next meeting with your guy, but it's something to consider for future meetings.
posted by youngergirl44 at 9:06 PM on November 14, 2006

I know mine is coming because my lower back hurts the day before - but those sorts of signs and symptoms are pretty user specific. The temperature thing works for most people, though.

If this is a recurring scheduling problem for you, you might consider starting birth control - it'll allow you to move your period to whenever you'd like it and control it better. You might also talk to your doctor about the possibility of moving it just this once - a couple of estrogen pills can put it off for a few days.

Of course, this is fucking with your hormones, and for some people, this will result in a nightmare of crampy misery and weirdness, but for a lot of people, it just results in a more pleasantly scheduled life.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:09 PM on November 14, 2006

Another vote for getting yourself a copy of Taking Charge Of Your Fertility, and learning to chart, or at least be aware of on a daily basis, your cervical fluid. If you chart your basal temperature too, it's a very good, though not foolproof, indicator of your cycle.

If you're not willing or able to use hormonal birth control methods to help regulate your cycle, you can at least try and keep yourself on an even keel with proper diet and regular exercise (though not strenuous exercise, that might just throw your cycle further out of whack). Exercise is also a great natural way to stave off some of the worse symptoms of PMS, not to mention garden-variety stress.

And my experience is that my period is always a bigger deal to me than it ever has been for a guy (two long-term long-distance relationships under my belt, too--one of which ended in marriage).
posted by padraigin at 9:42 PM on November 14, 2006

I use this site to help keep track of mine, but they don't mail you a reminder or anything, so checking in is handy. (I believe I found it through lurking askme, so many thanks to whoever posted it previously.) One of the bonuses, though, was that it keeps track of what your average cycle is. I find some comfort in knowing that I am actually more regular, in my perimenopausal craziness, than I originally thought I was.
posted by lilywing13 at 10:15 PM on November 14, 2006

If you arte going to be in this situation for an extended period of time (like more than 6 months) you might want to consider hormonal birth control, as stated above. The patch (ortho evra) worked well for me. Regular as clockwork, and shorter, lighter periods to boot.
posted by MadamM at 10:19 PM on November 14, 2006

My Monthly Cycles (mentioned above) does have an email reminder service which is useful. Also it might be a good idea to get the irregularity checked out - not everyone's cycle is 28 days (nor does it have to be), but if's that irregular you might want to have it checked out just to be safe.

And good for paulsc and all the other period positive men in the thread! I think it's not a big deal for most men if they've had women in their lives. If anything, PMS is scarier than the actual menses itself, IMHO (please, no flaming - I'm a chick who has PMS, your mileage may vary, etc. etc.).
posted by rmm at 10:30 PM on November 14, 2006

Everyone — guys included — should read Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It's amazing how basic properties of the female human body and its cycles (the shifting temperature, cervical fluid viscosity, etc.) are completely left out of sex ed / health class. The book is easy to read and clarifies a lot of confusing and conflicting ideas planted by popular culture (like that your fertility cycle is totally random, or that it's totally regular, or — most of all — that it's totally unpredictable).
posted by Alt F4 at 5:10 AM on November 15, 2006

The best way I know of is hormonal birth control. I'm a huge fan of the NuvaRing, too.

Also possibly relevant though not directly answering your question: if you're willing to have sex during your period but just don't want to deal with the blood, try the Instead SoftCup. You can wear it during intercourse (and, ahem, other things). A few caveats, though: there can still be traces of (usually dried) blood, so it won't be great if either of you is really squeamish. I find it as comfortable as a tampon, but it does take a couple tries to get the hang of inserting it. And also, he may feel it during sex. When I was using it regularly, my partner usually wasn't bothered by it, but once or twice we had to start over because it was uncomfortable.
posted by CiaoMela at 6:52 AM on November 15, 2006 is another web-based app that will track your periods and ovulation dates, and send you email reminders if you so choose.
posted by donajo at 7:51 AM on November 15, 2006

I'll also vouch for the pill - it'll take any and all guesswork out of the equation, you cant futz with the day it'll arrive if you know at least a cycle in advance if you want your period to come a little bit earlier, and the periods themselves will probably be lighter as well. Plus, it doubles as birth control!! :)
posted by cgg at 8:12 AM on November 15, 2006

I also recommend the pill. Additionally, if you take the pill continuously (skip the placebo week and just start a new pack) your period won't come at all. There are specific pills that do this but my gyno informed me that you can do this with a regular prescription.
posted by mamaquita at 8:30 AM on November 15, 2006

This is getting a little off-topic, but mamaquita is only partially correct - only monophasic birth control pills can be taken continuously to avoid menstruation. Multiphasic pills [like Ortho Tri-Cyclen] are designed around a monthly cycle and have hormone levels that vary depending on which week it is; taking such pills continuously wouldn't work. If anonymous does look into taking birth control to control her menstrual cycle, she should only try taking pills continuously if her gynecologist says it's OK.
posted by ubersturm at 9:55 AM on November 15, 2006

Another vote for basal body temperature charting as recommended by sugarfish and xo above. For eight years now I have known the EXACT day my period will start, just by taking my temperature most mornings when I wake up. It is awesome. I like this method because there are no medications involved and its predictive value doesn't rely on the length of past cycles, so it can work well even for those who are irregular. (Incidentally, I wouldn't necessarily categorize your cycles as irregular if "they're usually within a two day range." Sounds pretty normal to me.)
posted by purplemonkie at 3:37 PM on November 15, 2006

Actually, your cycle doesn't sound irregular at all if it's "usually within a two day range" as you said in your post. But yes, if you can pinpoint ovulation then you can pinpoint your period, because the length of the post-ovulation phase is apparently very predictable.
posted by footnote at 6:59 AM on November 16, 2006

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