When I first started getting periods they were fairly irregular. After the first 6 month gap, I think they gradually shortened from about a 6 week cycle to about a 4 week cycle, and every once in awhile an annoying 3 week cycle. I think my cycle was fairly steady by the time I was 17.
I have never marked my periods on a calendar, or predicted them by counting days like they teach you to in school, partly because I was shy about writing it down, and partly because I have this laziness thing where I prefer to keep on top of my life purely by awareness and not by doing any work. I work out my cycle by paying attention to what my body is up to and the patterns it usually follows during a month of hormones.
My breasts usually get a little tender a few days before I bleed, and about halfway between periods at the time of ovulation. As well, I usually get pre-cramp discomfort as my uterus warms up for the big event. See also discharge. I think that monitoring my cycle this way is easier and more accurate than counting days. Also I like being able to tell what my body is up to.
If I am going on a trip I will count weeks to see if I should pack significant amounts of menstrual products, and figure on about 4 weeks between bleeding. I find that any major airplane flight will bring on a light period soon afterwards anyway. This is common enough that I got warned about it when I went on a Girl Guide trip to Switzerland.
Since being on the pill, I obviously have regular 28 day cycles. This isn't overly convenient to me, as I was lucky enough to rarely be caught by surprise before, but I can see the benefits this would have for some women.
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