Is my period normal?
The average menstrual cycle is 28 days; however this can vary anywhere from 21 to 35 days. What is important to know is that every woman’s cycle is different in time, length and flow. Your period might be light or heavy, painful or pain free and can fluctuate throughout your lifetime. Periods are as individual as you are.
A period is part of the menstrual cycle and calculated from the first day of your bleed until the first day of your next bleed, and most women have their period for between 3 and 7 days.
Women begin menstruating from the average age of 12 and stop menstruating at menopause which occurs on average about the age of 52. Menopause is determined when you haven’t had a period for a year.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON SYMPTOMS WITH PERIODS?
The intensity and symptoms of periods can vary for women, with the most common symptom being cramps, caused by the uterus contracting to release the lining which results in bleeding. Some women have light spotting for a couple of days and others can have heavy bleeding for up to 5. Your menstrual cycle will change from your teenage years through until your 50’s, and it can take up to 3 years for young girls to have regular cycles after they begin menstruating.
Other symptoms that accompany the lead up and during your period include:
- Mood changes
- Food cravings
- Breast tenderness
- Skin breakouts
- Trouble sleeping
WHAT IS NOT NORMAL?
If you feel something is not right with your period and your cycle, it is advisable to see a practitioner who specialises in female health/hormones. The sooner you address the underlying cause, the better it will be for your hormones and your cycle. Some examples of irregular periods include:
- Not having a period for extended times, three months or more
- Bleeding that lasts longer than 7 days
- Bleeding or spotting between periods
- Periods accompanied by vomiting, nausea, severe pain
- Period cycles less than 21 days or more than 35 days apart
HOW MUCH BLOOD LOSS IS NORMAL?
You can expect to lose between 2 and 3 tablespoons of blood during your period, however this too can vary with some women experiencing only light spotting and others bleeding through a tampon or pad within 1 to 2 hours. If heavy bleeding or passing large clots persist, it is time to see your practitioner.
Your period should not interrupt your work or social life or prevent you from doing the things you love, so if you are curled up in the foetal position for more than 3 days every month, popping pain pills and unable to leave the house, it’s time to get help.
WHAT IS OVULATION?
Ovulation is the release of an egg from an ovary during the menstrual cycle and when you are most likely to fall pregnant. This usually occurs right in the middle of your cycle and some women will experience symptoms of ovulation like sharp or dull pain for a day or two.
Knowing when you ovulate is important to keep track of if you want to plan a family or take extra precautions to avoid unwanted pregnancies. There are great apps you can download to help track your period and ovulation to help you plan holidays, special events and more awareness about your cycle.
HOW CAN I HAVE A BETTER PERIOD?
There are lifestyle factors that can affect your period negatively like stress, lack of sleep, poor dietary choices and hormone imbalances, but positive changes can impact your period for the better. Here are the top 5 tips:
* Drink lots of filtered water and herbal teas
* Exercise every day
* Get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night
* Balance your hormones with natural herbs and supplements
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
One of the worst things you can do is to compare yourself to others, in all manner of things. We are all unique and our bodies are all so different, inside, and out. Our periods are different too. The only thing you need to know is that if your period is causing problems, if it is absent or distressing, then you need to seek help from a professional. Anxiety over your period can make matters worse too, so before you blow your problem into something bigger than it should be, speak to someone who can reassure you that you are perfectly normal and everything will be ok.
Written by Mona Hecke
Mona Hecke is a degree qualified Naturopath, nutrition specialist and health and wellness writer.
With over 20 years in the health industry, beginning with a focus on children and families, and a bestselling book ‘The Lunchbox Revolution’, Mona is now empowering women through education and conversation to take action and embrace change. Gut health, mindfulness, nutrition, hormones, and menopause are the topics that women want and need to know to create their healthy future.
Mona holds certifications in Lifestyle Coaching, Kinesiology, holistic herbal medicine, and nutrition.
A recognised leader in the health industry, Mona’s strong social media presence and passion for influencing change will continue to be a catalyst for health reform for the benefit of every Australian.