Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle
Understanding your menstrual cycle should not be a topic of embarrassment. It is a perfectly natural womanly function. What’s more, is that it should be fully understood.
Many a woman will go through her life without giving her menstrual cycle more of a second thought. Have you ever been into a doctor’s office and been asked the question, “what is the first day of your last period”? If so, did you know the answer?
You would not be alone if your answer was ‘no’. For it is only when a problem presents itself that a woman will really start to take notice of her menstrual cycle. Sadly, this problem usually comes about when a woman is trying to get pregnant and has difficulties.
How Long Should My Cycle Last?
Between 24 days to 35 days is a normal guide to a healthy menstrual cycle. Too short a cycle or too long a cycle, and you could be experiencing a hormonal imbalance or significant health issue.
One condition associated with a cycle being too long is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS as it is known for short.
Cycles that are too short could be associated with health conditions such as thyroid disfunction.
In addition, low weight, excessive exercising, eating disorders, and stress may also impact the duration and frequency of your menstrual periods.
How Many Days Should A Healthy Period Last?
A healthy period should last a minimum of 2 days and a maximum of 7 days.
Too short a period and this could suggest a hormone imbalance, such as low progesterone levels or hypothyroidism. If blood tests come back as being fine, then are you possibly living too much of a sedentary lifestyle? Those who sit all day at a computer will have impeded blood flow. Try high energy exercise 2-3 times a week for a couple of months and see if you notice any improvements to your menstrual flow.
A period lasting for more than 7 days and is generally accompanied by heavy bleeding could indicate conditions such as fibroids, endometriosis, adenomyosis or in some cases cancer affecting the uterus.
A lady suffering with periods that are too short or too long should consult her GP, gynaecologist or other relevant healthcare professional as soon as possible. The first steps will most likely include an ultrasound scan either vaginally or externally going over the stomach and pelvis. Bear in mind that really an internal scan is much better as it will give a much clearer picture (literally).
Blood tests may also be taken to check hormone levels, iron levels and to check the thyroid. The next step from there may include a CT or MRI scan.
Whilst seeing a health care professional may be a daunting prospect, it is a necessary one. Failure to do so can lead to immense pain and even in some cases infertility.
What Colour Should My Period Be?
A healthy menstrual bleed should be a cherry red colour.
If your period blood is brown, this suggests old blood from a previous period.
How Much Should I Bleed When On My Period?
A woman should bleed a minimum of 25ml during the entire course of her period.
This usually means filling 2 medium flow period pads. However the best way to measure period flow is to invest in a menstrual cup. The menstrual cup will usually have a line on it to indicate 25ml, however you could always use a measuring jug.
How To Use A Menstrual Cup
Using a menstrual cup is one of the best tools for understanding your menstrual cycle. You can quite literally analyse every aspect of your period health.
Menstrual cups can take a bit of getting used to, however you need only do it for a cycle or two to measure your overall period health.
Each cup will come with instructions for how to insert. It’s quite easy, you simply fold the cup in half so the two sides are pressed together. You then fold in half again. You’re now ready to push the cup into your vagina opening. Try to push all the way, so the cup sits nicely in your cervix.
To remove the cup, use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the cup together whilst inside you. Then gently twist and pull the cup out carefully.
Knowing which type of menstrual cup is right for you can be daunting at first. They usually cost around £15-£20, so not too cheap. Buying an organic silicone menstrual cup is best for internal use, as plastics can leach nasty chemicals leading to much unnecessary hormone disruption.
How Can I Naturally Reduce Period Pain?
The absolute best way to help reduce period pain naturally is to take magnesium glycinate.
Magnesium acts as a natural muscle relaxant and is brilliant for helping with period pains.
You can take magnesium as a supplement or find it through food sources such as dark chocolate and through cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli.
Using massage therapy to help with period pains
One natural way to alleviate menstrual cramps is through massage therapy.
- Increases blood flow
Massage therapy increases blood flow and circulation to the affected area, which can help to reduce pain and discomfort. By massaging the abdominal area, you can increase blood flow to the uterus, which can help to relieve menstrual cramps.
- Releases endorphins
Massage also helps to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers that can help to alleviate period pain. Endorphins are chemicals that are produced by the body in response to pain or stress and can provide a natural form of pain relief.
- Reduces muscle tension
Massage can also help to reduce muscle tension, which is a common cause of menstrual cramps. By releasing tension in the muscles around the uterus, massage can help to relieve menstrual cramps and reduce pain.
Tips for Self-Massage
If you want to try self-massage to alleviate period pain, here are some tips to get you started:
Lie down on your back and place a pillow under your knees to support your lower back.
Use a warm compress or heating pad to relax your muscles and increase blood flow.
Apply gentle pressure to your lower abdomen using circular motions. Start at the center of your abdomen and work your way outwards.
Use your fingertips to massage your lower back and hips, as tension in these areas can also contribute to period pain.
Take slow, deep breaths to help relax your body and release tension.
Understanding your menstrual cycle
In conclusion, understanding your menstrual cycle is essential for every woman. By tracking your menstrual cycle, you can predict when your period will start, identify any irregularities or changes, and be more in tune with your body’s natural rhythms.
The menstrual cycle is a complex process that involves the interplay of hormones, the uterus, and the ovaries. It typically lasts around 28 days but can vary from person to person. As mentioned before, providing your cycle is between 24 days to 35 days, you’re pretty healthy. The cycle is divided into three phases: the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase.
During the follicular phase, follicles in the ovary mature and prepare for ovulation. Ovulation occurs when the mature follicle releases an egg, which travels down the fallopian tube towards the uterus. If the egg is fertilized by sperm, it may implant in the uterus and result in pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilized, it will be shed along with the uterine lining during menstruation.
The luteal phase occurs after ovulation and prepares the uterus for potential pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur, the uterine lining is shed during menstruation, and the cycle begins again.
Understanding your menstrual cycle can help you plan for pregnancy, identify any changes or irregularities, and manage any menstrual symptoms or discomfort. If you have any concerns about your menstrual cycle or experience severe pain or discomfort, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider.