Keeping a period symptoms diary

Here I describe how and why keeping a Period Symptoms Diary is useful


Emma Thornton
Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
@EmmaThornton
Ask Emma

Why is keeping track of symptoms of your period so important?

Do you ever find that you suffer from certain symptoms, perhaps that recurrent sore head, or feeling overly-emotional every so often, but it disappears or doesn’t tend to last long, so you forget all about it – until the next time that is. If you were asked to describe your symptoms you would most probably forget when they occurred, how bad it actually made you feel and how it affected you that day.

There’s a couple of issues with this, firstly it’s likely you’re going to miss any patterns that are emerging, is it three days before your period that you experience certain symptoms, or perhaps the first day of your cycle each month? Next, if you don’t properly understand when and why these symptoms are occurring, you’re less likely to do anything about them. Without figuring out exactly when, why or even what symptoms you’re continually falling victim to, you’ll probably find that you are just putting up with these symptoms until they pass! Does this sound familiar?

On this page I’m going to outline how you can begin taking control of your symptoms going forward by keeping a Symptoms Diary. This means you will have a better idea of what symptoms you experience around the time of your period and more importantly, it means you can finally start to manage them!

What symptoms are common?

In the lead up to your period it’s common to experience some degree of symptoms, very few women get away with not having any.

Symptoms of periods can be roughly split into physical and psychological symptoms as follows:

Physical symptoms      Psychological symptoms
Period pain, also called cramp Mood swings
Aching muscles Weepiness
Bloating and digestive complaints Irritability                               
Dizziness Cravings
Headaches Forgetfulness
Low energy Low energy
Low libido Low libido
Skin breakouts  
Sore breasts  
Increased body temperature  


This list isn’t conclusive; you may experience other symptoms or just a small handful of the above. However, these are generally the most common symptoms of menstrual periods. It’s also important to pay attention to your periods themselves rather than just the associated symptoms. You should consider your cycle length and how heavy a flow you have, together with this information, it becomes much easier to identify potential hormone imbalances.

If, for example, each month you have heavy, painful periods with a short cycle and you find you also have symptoms such as mood swings, feeling irritable with sore breasts – it might suggest you have a hormone imbalance and oestrogen dominance could be an issue. On the other hand, if you typically have light, infrequent periods and are prone to feeling low in mood, and perhaps have problems with your skin, low oestrogen and progesterone dominance may be an issue.

By keeping track of your symptoms each month you can actually start to piece together what might be going on!

When do your symptoms suggest you have something else going on?

So, symptoms of periods are relatively normal, however, depending on what sets of symptoms you have in combination as I explain above, you might find you suspect you have some sort of hormone imbalance – these can often be managed with the introduction of gentle herbal remedies. Watch my video presentation on this topic in order to better understand how herbs can help.

However, in some cases you might suspect something else is going on. For women with PMS, your symptoms may go on for longer, for example starting soon after ovulation and only stopping once your period starts. In cases of PMS, the severity of your symptoms is likely to be ramped up too; perhaps they impact on your day to day life, for example affecting work or personal relationships.

Other conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids or PCOS may also be contenders if you feel your symptoms really are quite severe. Visit the above pages to learn more about some of these conditions.

How to use the Symptom’s Diary

Your Symptoms Diary is a really effective way of illustrating your monthly symptoms. Whether or not you have PMS, whether your symptoms are moderate or severe, it can help you to recognise any patterns.

You can easily look back and see how long you had your period for, how heavy a flow you experienced, what symptoms were apparent and how severe they were, simply use green, orange or red pens to illustrate the severity of each category.

Below I have included an example of a section of a completed Symptoms Diary. I recommend you fill out the diary for a minimum of three months in order to start seeing some patterns emerge – you can then begin to treat the symptoms individually, or as a whole if it suggests a hormone balance might be to blame.

After completing your Symptoms diary over three or four months it can also be a useful tool to take along to your doctor if you are worried about your symptoms or suspect something else might be going on.

                        1   10 11 12 13 14
Period
flow
                X X X X X  
Period
pain
              X X X        
Aching muscles           X X X            
Digestive complaints                            
Bloating             X X X X        
Dizziness                            
Headaches                     X X    
Low energy                 X X        


Click this link to download
your very own Periods Symptoms Diary and start recording straight away!

Agnus castus

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Helps maintain normal healthy balance of female hormones in younger women.
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Here's what I recommend

As the A.Vogel  Women’s Health advisor, I recommend Agnus castus to help relieve premenstrual symptoms such as painful periods.

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Did you know?

Did you know the average age of starting your periods has changed? A 100 years ago, 16 was the average age for a girl to get her first period in the UK but now this has dropped to just 12! Incredible!

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