Here are the 5 things to look for in a "normal" period
Periods might look a little different for everyone, and that's okay. You're different from your best friend or sister.
But for the most part, there are a few things us practitioners are looking for when evaluating a period cycle.
1. Bleeding Length
This is the length of your period. How many days are you bleeding? A healthy period can be anywhere from 3-7 days of bleeding. Anything more could be considered heavy bleeding (or menorrhagia) and anything less might be indicative of other hormonal concerns. Check in with your provider if you're having bleeding outside of this range.
Start tracking on the first day of full bleeding. Not when you're spotting, but when you have a full day of bleeding.
2. Cycle Length
This is the length of your entire cycle- follicular phase to luteal phase. Day 1 of your period to day 1 of your next period. Is that 28 days? Is it 30 days?
The average cycle length is 28 days, that doesn't mean this is the only normal cycle length. A normal cycle can be anywhere from 25-36 days long. The most important piece to this is consistency. We care more about your cycles being consistently the same length than the number of days (as long as they fall within that 25-36 days).
If you notice one cycle you have a 28 day cycle, and the next cycle it's 34 days, then the next cycle is 25 days, this is considered irregular. A regular cycle has consistently regular periods.
3. Blood Color
Bright red blood is mostly what we're looking for throughout your cycle. But other colors (like brown, and dark red) can also be normal.
Read more here about the differences in period blood color.
4. Blood Loss
How much blood you lose is also important in a cycle. It can inform you provider whether you have menorrhagia or have a lighter cycle, that may indicate some other hormonal imbalances, similar to how many days you're bleeding.
On average, women lose about 30-40 mL of blood in the course of their period. Anything above 80 mL is considered menorrhagia and would be worth a work up.
You can track this by tracking how many pads, tampons, or cup changes you have in a day.
Rule of thumb:
- Super tampon/pad holds about 10-12 mL of fluid
- Regular tampon/pad holds up to about 5-7 mL
- Light tampon/pad holds up to about 3 mL
- Overnight pads can hold up to 10-15 mL
- Menstrual cups on average hold about 30-60 mL per cup. Check your cup to see how much it holds. If it doesn't say on the cup itself, check with the company on their site to find the information.
Remember, these are very rough estimates, there's a lot of error with this method. The menstrual cup measuring seems to be the most effective way to measure, as there's less room for error and guessing.
No amount of pain is normal. Pain is your body's way of signaling to you that something is wrong. So if you're in pain during your periods, that's not okay. Even if you've been told it's "normal," trust your body.
Discomfort is normal. Your uterus is contracting to expel the lining, that won't feel pleasant, and some mild discomfort is expected. But, if you're having to stay curled up on the couch for hours or days, having to cancel your plans, and having to take off from work just to "deal with" your periods, this is NOT okay.
And furthermore, if you're having pain to the point of feeling nauseated, vomiting, dizziness, lightheadedness, migraines, etc that is NOT normal either. This could be indicative of endometriosis, adenomyosis, cysts, polyps, infections, or other conditions that you should have worked up.
Remember, everyone is different, and that's okay! Your periods won't look identical to other women. But there are some things that indicate that something is off in your cycles and/or your hormones that can warrant a further work up!
If you feel like you need some help figuring out your hormones, schedule a discovery call and we can chat about how we'd work together to figure out your hormones!