What is a Normal Menstrual Cycle? | Women's Health Month
Updated: 6 days ago
We are continuing our series on women’s health, last week we talked about birth control and this week is all about understanding our menstrual cycle. Sunday was Mother’s Day which officially kicked off Women’s Health Week (May 10-16); therefore, we're going to dive into how your menstrual cycle affects everything and the importance of understanding it.
TODAY'S TOPIC: WHAT IS A NORMAL MENSTRUAL CYCLE?
You may be thinking, what does it matter if I understand my cycle, who cares right? Wrong, it could affect your performance in all aspects of your life so it is imperative that you gain an understanding to take control of your superpower which is you and your feminine force. Some of you may not know the phases and just know when you bleed when you ovulate, and nothing in between. Did you know that your brain cycle can change through the course of your cycle up to 25%? With that logic, who you are today is different than who you were two ago and different than who you will be two weeks from now.
THE FOUR PHASES OF A MENSTRUAL CYCLE
The duration of a menstrual cycle can vary anywhere between twenty-five and up to forty days. Although the duration of days can fluctuate, it's important to know "your normal". Within each cycle are four phases: the follicular phase, the ovulatory phase, the luteal phase, and the menstrual phase.
Follicular phase: The first phase is the follicular phase starts the day after you are finished bleeding and typically lasts seven to ten days. This is the stage your follicles inside of your ovaries start to come to life and they pick which egg will be going through ovulation. At this point in your cycle, it is post menstruation and very little is happening, but you may notice a shift in your hormones and that is due to your hormones rising.
Ovulatory phase: Most of us know this stage well whether we are trying to optimize or avoid that time and that is your ovulatory phase. The ovulatory phase can last up to three to five days. The egg itself will only live up to forty-eight hours in that three to five-day ovulatory window. During this time, you may feel more assertive and confident which is a normal response during this time of your cycle. If you are feeling dejected, in a lot of pain, or have mid-cycle spotting then that is a sign of irregularity. If your egg does not inseminate with sperm, then it just disintegrates prompting the next phase of your cycle.
Luteal phase: The third phase is luteal or better known as PMS is our longest phase. It can last anywhere from ten to fourteen days. This is where we really see and feel the physical effects of our body changing such as weight retention, breast tenderness, acne, and emotional mood swings. If you are not mindful of these shifts in your body, then you are going to feel like you are in a constant fight against the current.
Menstrual phase: The last phase which is also another very well-known phase that even the men know what it is, the menstrual cycle. In this phase, you are shedding your uterine wall. During the course of the whole cycle, your body is prepping to build a home for a baby but if you are not pregnant, your body will shed so it can begin to start the home building process all over again. You will feel another shift in your body’s hormones as it was amped up for your ovulatory phase.
MENSTRUAL CYCLE: WHAT IS NORMAL AND NOT NORMAL
For some reason, there is a stigma around talking about our menstrual cycle and is often a taboo topic for many. There are so many variations that deviate away from normal but since you are experiencing them month after month then you will begin to think it is normal. The only way to come out of that and heal your body is to talk about it. What does a normal menstrual look like?
Duration: The normal length of a cycle is five to seven days. If you are experiencing less than or more than then it is an indication that there could be some irregularities happening.
Color: The second thing to take notice of is color. Most people think red, but there are actually different colors that you may experience from light pink to brown. The colors can tell you what is happening hormonally inside of your body. For example, brown bleeding at the beginning of your phase can indicate low progesterone. Purple could potentially indicate an estrogen deficiency. Ideally, your menstrual cycle should be bright red and does not have a lot of clots. Is your cycle staining your clothes? In the world of Ayurveda, the idea of the blood really sticking and destroying your clothes is a characteristic of ama or toxins that is clogging your channel creating dysfunction. I often hear from women that they do not look at their blood because it is weird. Yes, that may be the case but understand that everything that comes out of our bodies is going to tell us something. If you are experiencing heavy, painful, and clot filled bleeding then that is a part of your story and should listen. If you do not listen, then you run the risk for potential health problems.
Odor: This is a topic that women do not like to talk about and that is odor. It is important to know that there is a smell that is associated with your menstrual cycle, but it should not be foul. If you're noticing a foul odor, consider having a conversation with a professional who can weigh in.
Amount: The amount of bleeding that should occur on average is four anjalees. A single anjalee is the amount of liquid that would fit into your set of cupped hands. There is no one defined amount, as it depends on the person and their size. It is no wonder that you may feel depleted and that is normal. The modern woman will push through her menstrual cycle which could be detrimental to her health. It is important to slow down and listen to what your body is telling you.
TAKE ACTION: UNDERSTANDING YOUR MENSTRUAL CYCLE
The follicular phase is when you are excited to do things, more creative, you want to share, and listen to others. This is more of an exchange of outward energy. The ovulatory phase, your confidence shows and you make things happen, ask for that raise, and that is when you go big. The luteal phase is when you start to go inward, get that to-do list done, and wrap up open items. Then you get to your menstrual cycle is your time for reflection. This is one time of the month that your left and right brain hemispheres communicate extra by mixing your creative and analytical sides which can be a beautiful time. My invitation to you is to take notice of these moods and actions that you are experiencing throughout your month and relate them to these cycles. This will help you put something more tangible to something that is not visible to you but is happening inside your body and give you a better understanding to maximize your superpower which is your feminine force.
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