The Women’s Assessment Calendar is a tool that can be used for many situations and for every woman of menstruating age. We will provide examples of how this can help women understand their bodies better and communicate with their doctors more effectively as well. Mothers can use this as a training and communication tool with their teen daughters and women can learn about mild “normal” symptoms to those that need the follow-up of a specialty physician.
HOW TO UNDERSTAND AND COMPLETE THE CHART
First of all notice the “Symptom Rating Scale” at the very top of the page. The rating scale is scaled from 1 to 3 in order of severity of symptoms. If there are no symptoms there is no need to put anything in a box. A rating of 1 indicates a “mild” level of discomfort but not enough to interfere with daily activities. A rating of 2 indicates a “moderate” discomfort and/or pain intensity that does interrupt or disrupt normal daily life. Finally, a 3 rating means the woman is unable to perform her normal daily activities or routine such as going to work, caring for her children, unable to get out of bed etc. Ratings that are consistently (many days of the month) in the 3 level would indicate a need for a medical consult with a physician.
Next, note the numbers at the top of the chart right under the symptom rating scale. The “Calendar Date” goes from 1 to 15 on the first side of the page, and 16 to 31 on the back of the page. These correspond to the menstrual cycle days, not the days of the month. For example, day 1 is the first day of menstrual bleeding. Each symptom is then checked each day after (if symptoms exist) until the first day of bleeding the following month. At that point a new chart would be used, if so desired.
Next, possible physical and emotional symptoms are listed on the left side. For every symptoms that is observed a number from 1 to 3 would be then placed in the box that corresponds to the day of the cycle (not the day of the month). Healthy women’s menstrual cycles are typically around 28 days total but this varies slightly from woman to woman. One of the valuable uses of this chart is to track just how long your cycle really is (not just a guess). Gynecologists and other doctors ALWAYS ask women of menstruating age how long their cycle lasts and when their last period began. So it is important for young women to learn to keep an accurate record of their cycle (for doctor visits and other reasons).
It is also important to know that one of the values of such a tool is for you and your physician to be able to quickly observe any trends that may appear. For example, several “3” rating days around a certain time of each month may be related to ovulation, or expected drops or increases in hormone levels.
What about the Hormones listed at the bottom of the page?
We have included a section at the bottom of the chart for your doctors to use if they so desire. Listed are some of the hormones that help regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle and also need to be assessed if problems develop. Men and women have many hormones in our bodies that help facilitate the functioning of many physical functions. Hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, growth hormones, thyroid and more affect the menstrual cycle and also emotions, physical strength, appearance, height and much, much more.
HOW MOTHERS AND OTHERS WHO HELP GUIDE TEEN CAN USE THIS AS AN IMPORTANT TOOL
Moms, teachers, nurses and others who help teen girls navigate the first few years of menses can use this chart in several ways. Firstly, it is important for young girls, and all women, to truly understand just how important the menstrual cycle is to overall health! Just as most of us know that “normal” body temperature is around 98.6 degrees. So too is the significance of the menstrual cycle for women in the child-bearing years! Most of us know that a body temperature of 103 degrees indicates a problem, so we should also know that every woman’s cycle should be about the same length (time bleeding as well as total number of days between cycles). Variances in the length of bleeding and/or total length of the cycle indicate a need to talk with a physician. Of course as menstruation begins for girls things do not get off to an even rate for awhile. It is normal for the body to take a while to find its own unique rhythm.
Many girls have not been given much more than the most basic information in school so parents need to be able to provide follow-up. Also, schools do not typically provide education about the range of things that are not typical. Girls often silently presume their physical pain or emotionally intense moments are “normal” so they do not ask or speak-up. Embarrassment about menstruation can cause girls to suffer needlessly. Mothers and others who provide this chart can use this as a way to talk with their girls about all the possible signs that can sometimes accompany their cycles as well as the importance of then talking with their doctors about any concerning symptoms and/or trends.
This should not be something that scares or needlessly frightens young girls! It is important for them to learn how important and complex their bodies are but in a way that appreciates Mother Nature’s creativity and wonder! Also, since women’s reproductive organs are internal it is important for each woman to understand just how important it is to give their doctors as much helpful information as possible!
WHAT ALL WOMEN NEED TO KNOW
Many women were never given proper, adequate, or factual information about the workings of their own bodies. One of the reasons why Raginghormones.com was created was to provide medically and scientifically sound answers and resources. The Women’s Assessment Calendar was created by doctors in order to help them collect accurate data. Especially in an age where doctors are rushed each day with intense case loads it can be very helpful to come prepared to any medical appointment prepared with symptoms already documented.
WOMEN IN THE LATER PHASES OF THE MENSTRAL CYCLE
Some of the symptoms listed on this chart refer to hot flashes, night sweats and more. There are many myths and misconceptions about when and how the menstrual cycle comes to an end. Even some women in their younger years sometimes experience such symptoms. This may mean something very different depending upon the age of the woman so, again, it is important to keep accurate records and discuss such things with your doctor. What is considered “normal” may depend upon each individual woman. Menopause is a normal and natural phase of life. Symptoms typically thought of as relating to menopause can, however, also occur at other times in life and this can mean something different and may need medical attention.
Q: Do I need to keep using the Assessment Calendar forever?
A: No. Typically one or two months are adequate but your doctor may want you to keep longer records.
Q: If I have symptoms does that mean I am sick?
A: No. The symptom check list is just a guide for understanding your own body and a tool to give to your doctor if you have frequent and/or severe symptoms.
Q: If I have a “3” day should I be concerned?
A: The Assessment Calendar should be used more to show trends, not any individual day that may be intense. No one symptom or rating should be alarming.
Q: What if my doctor refuses to look at the data I have kept for several months?
A: It is important to develop a healthy way to communicate with any doctor. Many studies have shown that clear, accurate, respectful patient to doctor communication is one of the best signs for good medical care!