Do you know...
What a healthy, balanced and vibrant menstrual cycle looks and feels like?
That the consistency, color and volume of your menstrual blood are telling you important details about your hormonal heath?
What is happening in your body and how hormones influence your overall health?
You are so not alone!
Welcome to the 21st century where your average person still hardly understands what is even happening with this whole menstrual cycle thing!
If you have gone to your health care practitioner lately for any menstrual related problems, you may hear things like, "We're not quite sure what's going on, but let's just get you on birth control to solve [insert problem here]."
Maybe you've been told that whatever is normal for you with your period and menstrual cycle is "normal", but you still can't help feel like something is off.
Unfortunately, this is the current reality that many women face. Too often times, women leave their health care professionals office feeling no better than when they went in and like they didn't get the answers they were looking for.
anyone else tired of the generic, one size fits all answers when it comes to the human body?
Your cycle is a monthly health report card. It is part of the intelligent design of the female body. Your body is always speaking to you. Unless you know what you're looking for, you may feel lost and overwhelmed with what is trying to be communicated.
Majority of menstrual issues are symptomatic of underlying imbalances in the body that can often be addressed with lifestyle, diet changes, healing past trauma & pain, and releasing stuck emotions.
Sometimes symptoms can be a sign of deeper underlying health conditions. This is why it is imperative to understand what the parameters of a healthy cycle are and what to look for.
Your Cycle as a Monthly Health Report Card
Your period is not just your period. It’s an expression of your underlying health. When you are healthy, your period will be smooth, regular and symptom free. When you are unhealthy in some way, your period will let you know.
Essentially, your menstrual cycle is a built in warning system that is letting you know that there is an underlying imbalance with your health that needs your attention, like a canary bird in a coal mine. An imbalance in your cycle is that little canary bird letting you know that bigger issues could arise if you don’t pay attention now.
“Your menstrual cycle is such a central part of who you are that if your body isn’t functioning normally, neither will your cycle.”
-Lisa Hendrickson-Jack, The Fifth Vital Sign
So What Does a Healthy Cycle Look Like?
There is no such thing as a perfect menstrual cycle, nor a perfect period
Now, with that being said, you will find that there are general guidelines that help to classify a healthy cycle. Knowing these will help you to determine what a healthy cycle is for you, and help you to know when and if your cycle is indicating that there may be an underlying health concern that needs to be addressed.
Signs of a Healthy Cycle
Lasts 3-7 days with an average of 5 days, following a crescendo-decrescendo pattern. It starts off heavy, typically in the first couple days and then gradually getting lighter and tapering off
Lasts anywhere from 24-35 days
Has a general theme and consistency to length of overall cycle and duration of bleeding from cycle to cycle
Period blood should be a variation of red, from bright red to deep burgundy, like a rich red wine
Lose anywhere from 25-80 milliliters - Average blood loss is 50mL which is 10 fully soaked regular tampons (an average size moon cup is 30mL)
No spotting prior to bleeding - when your flow is on, it’s on
Minimal spotting post period - light, consistent blood flow, even if only when wiping is ok. You don't want days of darker brownish blood or spotting that lasts for days
Should only experience mild discomfort in the first few hours
Minimal PMS leading up to your period - yes, you can have a period with minimal PMS! No crazy mood swings, intense irritability, strong cravings, migraines or sore boobs
Minimal to no clotting - a few clots pea size or smaller are ok
Signs of an unHealthy Cycle
Period is very irregular - this can be a cycle that goes for 32 days, then 21 days, then 42 days, then 24 days, etc...
A lot of mid cycle spotting - a small amount during ovulation is normal, but you shouldn't have to use any menstrual products
Period is very light (pale pink and watery)
Period is dark brown or black looking
Period contains a lot of clots - especially if the clots are quarter size or bigger
PMS symptoms are incapacitating
Crazy and unpredictable moods swings, cravings and a feeling of depression in the premenstrual and menstrual phase
Bleeding less than 25mL or more than 80mL on a regular basis
Difficulty conceiving or repeated miscarriages
Major discomfort and pain leading up to and while you are bleeding
And no, the answer to fixing any of these imbalances is not birth control, cauterization or hysterectomy, contrary to popular suggestion
There is a time and a place for these things, but it should never be offered as the first and only "solutions". All this does is put a temporary bandaid on the problem, not addressing the underlying cause.
Lisa Hendrickson-Jack, author of The Fifth Vital Sign says, "A vital sign is a bodily response you can monitor to measure how your body is functioning. When monitored, these can serve as an indicator to health care practitioners of an underlying health condition. Currently, our modern health systems are not monitoring the menstrual cycle as a fifth vital sign, nor looking at it as an overall indicator of health."
Why is this? Well, in short, most health care practitioners trained in western allopathic medicine do not receive proper education or training on women's bodies and the menstrual cycle. I mean, most OBGYN'S are old white guys 50+ who seem to have little respect or reverence when working with the female body, especially in such a vulnerable way! (nuff said...)
What's the Deal With PMS?
PMS is something that plagues many women and has commonly been accepted as part of having a period. Not only is this not true, but accepting the idea as normal is sending the message to women that they just have to deal with the suffering that comes with their period, that it’s ‘part of being a woman’.
Although pain with periods is common, it is not normal. Once again, it is speaking to an underlying root problem. As Lisa Hendrickson-Jacks, author of The Fifth Vital Sign puts it:
“Pain that requires the use of painkillers — or is so severe that you’re unable to go about your normal daily activities — is a universal sign that something is wrong.”
“Somewhat incredibly, many menstrual researchers have discovered that PMS is a condition almost exclusively found in the western world. Indeed, it is a complaint that women and medical professionals alike in other cultures have no comprehension of.”
-Lucy H. Pearce, Author of Moon Time
What if PMS stood for PrioritizeMySelf?
What if instead of resisting your period and trying to carry on 'business as usual', overriding messages from your body, you began to slow down and listen?
You can have a healthy, balanced, harmonious and empowering relationship with your cycle.
It is one of the greatest spiritual practices and is here to serve as your ally, teacher and guide.
The choice is yours.