When it comes to the female body, as many of us know - “normal” often encompasses broad ranges of elements because, indeed, no two fabulous women are created exactly the same. And that’s a good thing!
When it comes to periods and menstrual cycles, however, there are a few commonalities and important ranges that are good for us to be aware of. Mostly because if we notice any anomalies, we can seek professional opinion and medical advice sooner rather than later.
Irregularities with menstrual cycles are often due to hormonal imbalances, so it’s important to keep track of your cycles and look out for any changes.
Being in tune with our bodies is something so many of us overlook - with work, stresses, family demands (and the rest of it!) sometimes distracting us from some signs that our bodies may be trying to tell us.
Whilst there are many factors that may contribute to irregular cycles (read our previous post on this here: (link to article) - below we discuss physical signs and symptoms to watch out for and those that typically indicate health.
Menstrual Cycle Regularity and Length
Better Health (link https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/menstrual-cycle mentions that the average length of a female menstrual cycle is 28 days and is calculated by the length of time between the first day of menstruation, to the day before the next period begins. Although 28 days is the average length, this can vary anywhere between 21- 35 days - with even more variance amongst younger women, as outlined by Women’s Health :https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/menstruation-and-menstrual-cycle
Given that we all have varying menstrual cycle lengths, it’s especially important to become familiar with “our own normal” and to notice any changes or variations in our period lengths.
A cycle that lasts 35 days one month and 26 days the next may be indicative of hormonal imbalances, as may a cycle that’s consistently short or consistently long.
Keep an eye out for any spotting or breakthrough bleeding
Whilst it is common and perfectly normal to occasionally experience a day or two of spotting or breakthrough bleeding mid cycle (during ovulation) - bleeding at any other time is a symptom that should be investigated and taken up with your doctor.
Hormonal imbalances such as low progesterone levels are a common cause of spotting, which causes weakening of the uterine lining, making it more susceptible to frequent shedding.
The quality of your period
Ok ok - we know that this isn’t a commonly discussed topic (!) - but the quality of your period and menstrual flow is important too!
The colour of your blood flow is indicative of the oxygenation, hydration and blood circulation to your pelvic region. All of which are very important issues.
It makes sense that losing fluid in the form of a period means that it’s important to keep adequately hydrated. More than that, though - adequate hydration prevents the body from producing a hormone called vasopressin.
When hydration levels dip, our bodies naturally produce vasopressin, which is commonly attributed to causing cramps. Ensuring that you are adequately hydrated not only keeps your body fluids in pristine condition, it also goes a long way to feeling better - less crampy and less bloated.
Bright red blood is considered a very healthy sign. Darker red or brown blood can be indicative of sluggish circulation or hormonal imbalance and is something that you should discuss with your doctor.
If you find that you suffer from severe or unpleasant PMS symptoms each month (link to article)- it may also be time to get a second opinion, to rule out the possibility of any other underlying health concern. After all… knowledge is power, right?!
Pay attention to your lady secretions
It is considered a sign of good health to notice changes in the consistency of your cervical secretions over the course of your “non-menstruating” cycle. These changes are brought about by natural hormone fluctuations during the course of the menstrual cycle.
Very Well (https://www.verywell.com/too-much-cervical-mucus-whats-normal-and-whats-not-1960236) discusses the presence of secretions over the few days of ovulation (mid-cycle) as well as the few days leading up to menstruation. Again, it’s important to pay attention to the consistency, regularity and any changes.
*It is always recommended to seek the guidance of a medical professional as soon as possible, if you are ever concerned about your period or menstrual cycle.