Normal menstrual cycle

Author: Dr. Maryam Mahanian, DTCM, RAc

Are you having a normal period? What's a normal menstrual cycle supposed to be like?

People may wonder why I ask so many detailed questions about the menstrual period when I see a female patient. This is because the health of the periods are huge indicators of the health of the whole body. Some may have never paid attention to certain aspects of their periods. Also, what you may have for years thought to be “normal” parts of your period, like having PMS for example, are “common” but not “normal”.

Regularity, duration of flow, color of flow, clots, cramps, mood swings and other pms symptoms are all important aspects of the periods that we can start to be aware of.

Chinese medicine believes that normal menstruation begins at age 14 and ends around age 49 or 50. However, it’s very common in the west to have your first period at age 11 or 12 and to not go through menopause until after age 50.

Menstrual cycle calendar and menstrual pads

Regularity

The menstrual cycle ideally should be every 28 or 29 days (give or take a couple days), the same as the lunar cycle. But if your period has always been regularly shorter or longer than this, perhaps 25 to 35 days, it doesn’t mean there’s a problem. However, as a Chinese medicine practitioner, I do still try to get your periods to be as close to 28 days as possible if you’re trying to conceive.

Duration of Bleeding

The period lasts 3 to 5 days, and can be up to 7 days long with the last couple of days being a lighter flow.

Consistency of Blood

The period flow should be clear of clots, clear of odor, and should be neither too watery or sticky or mucusy. It should be a similar consistency to when you get a cut. 

Volume of Blood

Average blood loss per period is 30 to 60mL but if you lose more than that, you’re at risk of becoming anemic. Needing to change your pad or tampon every 3 to 4 hours is a normal and healthy amount of blood loss. The period comes on strong the first two days and starts to slowly taper off. 

Color of Blood

The flow begins as a fresh-red color and becomes a bit darker by the end of your period.

health of blood, fertility pregnancy and menstruation

Pre-Menstrual

Having severe PMS symptoms of irritability, crying easily, fatigue, bloating, breast distension and headaches is not normal (but very common). In fact, up to 80% of menstruating women have PMS. If you have mild PMS and it’s not debilitating, I still aim to improve it with my treatments with you but it’s not of concern. 

painful menstrual cramping in your lower abdomen

Cramps

You should not experience painful menstrual cramping. A little bit of a twinge in your lower abdomen when you’re about to have your period is okay. Cramps at ovulation/mid-cycle time are also not considered normal. 

If having a normal period has not been your experience, not to worry! Chinese medicine can fine tune and correct any imbalances in your body to normalize your periods and give you a better quality of life. 

 

In Support,
Dr. Maryam