What a normal period should look like

What a normal period should look like.

By Jacqui Watts: Naturopath, Herbalist.

Our periods can tell us a lot about what is happening with our hormones. As a naturopath dealing with women’s hormones, I have heard a lot of period stories, and often I find women are not aware as to what a normal period even is.

We class a normal period as a regular cycle of between 27-32 days. If there are irregularities to the cycle it is usually an indication either ovulation is not occurring, or ovulation is delayed for one reason or another. Ovulation should be around 12-15 days prior to a period, being the first day of blood flow. Shorter or longer gaps between ovulation and your period are often classed as a luteal phase defect, meaning there is usually an issue with progesterone production in that part of the cycle.

Regarding PMS, what is normal is yes you may experience a mild shift in mood or a flat day, but we should not be having an emotional rollercoaster for a whole week or even two leading into our periods. PMS symptoms such as breast tenderness, bloating, irritability, headaches and acne are a sign of a hormone imbalance, even if you have had your blood tests taken, there still can be more to the picture.

When the period starts it should start with a good flow, maybe a half day of spotting, red in colour and just very mild cramping to begin with. What we don’t want is clots, pain, heaviness where you are changing more than 3 hourly or any other debilitating symptoms. If this is happening to you, I would encourage you to seek further advise from a medical or healthcare professional.

Our periods should last anywhere between 2-5 days. If you are bleeding for an excessive amount of time it may be a sign of oestrogen dominance, fibroids, cysts, endometriosis or other functional condition. The blood flow itself can also be a good indicator of health, we want to see a nice red flow, not too pale and scanty without clots or darkness within the blood. If the body is shedding away old blood it can be a sign that the uterine walls lack strength to properly cleanse each month. Exercise, castor oil packs and tummy massage can all support the uterus to cleanse effectively.

It can be a good idea to start tracking your cycle on a period app and using a menstrual cup so you can see more clearly what is going on. By getting to know your periods you can start to see whether there may be areas of your health that need to be supported.

Some of the best ways to regulate and normalise your periods are:

  • Stress management practices, such as meditation and yoga
  • Magnesium for hormone support, PMS and pain
  • Looking at your gut health, bloating, constipation or indigestion may all be signs you are reabsorbing old oestrogens promoting heavy periods.
  • Eat a clean diet rich in proteins, fats and healthy plant-based carbohydrates.
  • You may want to test your hormones via saliva or urine with a functional laboratory to assess your hormone picture so you can start taking control of your periods. 

So next time your period comes, stop take a note of what is going on and start listening to what your body is trying to tell you.

Article By: Jacqui Watts: Naturopath.
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