Every woman will spend approximately 3,500 days on her period. That’s just over 9.5 years!! That is an incredible amount of time to be bleeding and PMS-ing- am I right? But how do we know if we have a normal period? What should our menstrual cycle really look like?
Length of Cycle
Every woman varies, but generally a normal period cycle can last between 21 to 35 days, with the average menstrual cycle lasting 28 days.
Within that time, each cycle has 4 phases. They are menstruation, follicular phase, ovulation and luteal phase. A normal period cycle starts with 4 to 7 days of bleeding. After this finishes, we enter the follicular phase- when our body is preparing for ovulation. The follicular phase lasts on average 7 to 10 days. You then have 1 day of ovulation, followed by approximately 14 days of the luteal phase.
This doesn’t look like you? It didn’t look like me either, when I was beginning my PCOS healing journey. Most women with abnormal cycle lengths will experience a very long follicular phase, but the luteal phase generally remains the same. So, it might take you longer to get to ovulation, but after this the timeframe is mostly 14 days.
Color & Amount
What about the colour and amount of flow? An entire menstrual period usually releases less than half a cup of blood, including clots. How can you tell how much flow you should have?
Try my favourite- The Diva Cup! This is a reusable menstrual cup that is eco-friendly, sanitary, won’t dry out your vag AND have measurements on the side.
Not ready for a menstrual cup just yet? Find out how to tell using pads & tampons HERE.
Now for colour- please, please, please with sugar on top- look at your menstrual flow! Just like you look at your poop to see if it’s healthy (you’re doing this, right?), you need to see if you have normal period flow colour.
Bright red is the BEST. Brown flow is okay at the end of your period, but if you always see brown, it could be a lack of water or nutrients.
If you’re having more of a pinkish flow, that could mean you’re low in iron (as many of us menstruating women are!) or have a poor diet. There’s also black flow, which could indicate TONS of clotting (a no-no) or poor diet and lack of essential fatty-acids (i.e.: your Omega-3s).
Pain & Other Symptoms
So now we know that your flow is normal (phew!), but so many of us are struggling with other symptoms associated with the dreaded PMS, or pre-menstrual syndrome. Although 90% report suffering from PMS in our lives, and 40% of women say its shitty enough to interfere with our daily lives- having excessively painful or bothersome periods is NOT normal.