As you prepare for your first visit, it might help to understand what you might expect. One of the most important parts of your first visit is your menstrual history. Your history itself is one of the most important (and inexpensive) “tests” that can be performed by your health care provider. There are a number of things we’ll want to know.
What is your cycle length? That’s the interval between the first day of your period and the first day of your next period. It’s usually 28 to 30 days. Don’t get this confused with how many days your period lasts—normal is 3-7 days.
Are your periods regular in cycle length? Sometimes women have cycles that vary dramatically in length. One woman may experience a cycle length of 21 days and then might skip 2 or 3 months before the onset of the next one. If you skipped 2 periods your cycle length for that particular cycle would be 90 days—remember, you need to count from the first day of one period to the first day of the next.
Regular cycles are an indication of regular ovulation. Conversely, if your cycle length varies quite a bit or is very prolonged that’s a pretty good indication that you’re not ovulating on a regular basis.
- How long does your bleeding last?
- Do you bleed between periods?
- How many days, if any, do you consider “heavy” during each cycle?
- During your “heavy days” do you wear tampons, pads or both?
- How long can you go between pad and/or tampon changes?
- Do you need to get up in the middle of the night to change pads or tampons?
- Do you pass clots? How large are they? (dimes, nickels, quarters?)
- Are your periods painful? How would you rate them on a 10 point scale? (10 being the worst pain you’ve ever experienced).
- Do you bleed after intercourse?
- Do you have to plan your life around your periods? Do you miss work because of them?
After we obtain your history, the provider may opt for one of the following tests: