Menstrual cycles are different for everyone, and they’re rarely perfect. Unfortunately, for many women, it’s not something they’re particularly comfortable talking about. For this reason, not many know what is expected and healthy in a menstrual cycle.
But because menstruation is a critical part of reproductive health, it’s not a health metric that you can ignore without consequences. Here are the common signs of a healthy menstrual cycle to help you determine whether or not your flow is flowing smoothly.
Typical menstrual blood should be a bright red color, much like cranberry juice. If your menstruation is dark red, brown, or clotted, it indicates poor uterine blood circulation. It can also result from underlying hormonal imbalance.
What about discharge before your period? Cervical fluid changes throughout your cycle. Though uncomfortable and potentially annoying, discharge is nothing to worry about. These secretions are healthy and merely indicate that your body is working as it should.
Your periods should not be painful
Painful periods are something most women undergo. However, if your periods regularly leave you bedridden or otherwise unable to function, you should speak with your doctor.
Excessive period pain can result from fibroids, endometriosis, or hormonal imbalance.
No breakthrough bleeding
Irregular bleeding outside of your period indicates low progesterone or estrogen dominance.
Progesterone hormone holds the uterine lining intact until it plunges and causes the endometrium to shed at the end of the cycle.
The only exception of bleeding outside your period day is ovulatory bleeding which some women experience. Ovulatory bleeding should not go beyond two days, so if you have more than two days of extra-menstrual bleeding, consult your OBGYN.
Consistent menstrual cycle length
A healthy menstruation cycle should consistently last 25 to 35 days.
Anything less than 25 days indicates estrogen imbalance, where estrogen levels are higher than progesterone levels. And if the cycle is longer than 35 days, something is preventing ovulation, which may lead to a lack of periods.
In both cases, it’s advisable to see a doctor or visit a women’s healthcare service center.
No severe PMS symptoms
It’s not only pregnancy that’s accompanied by cravings and mood swings. Menstrual cycles might also leave you crying over spilled milk or reaching for ice cream and pickles. The imbalance between estrogen and progesterone triggers bloating, breast tenderness, mood swings, and cramps.
During the second half of a woman’s cycle, progesterone makes a woman’s body more sensitive to blood sugar swings. You can stabilize your blood sugar by eating proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Consistent amount of blood
If you suddenly start bleeding a lot more than usual during your period, something is likely wrong. Likewise, if your flow is consistently so heavy that pads or tampons can’t keep up, this could be a sign of a cyst or other reproductive health concern. Talk to your doctor if you think your flow is heavier than it should be.
Remember, mild discomfort during your menstrual cycle is normal. But if your symptoms are severe and excessive, it’s best to raise your concerns to your doctor.