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What is a normal period?

I’m sure you’ve all heard that a normal menstrual cycle, or period, is 28 days long, with 5 days of bleeding and ovulation occurs at day 14. Well that’s according to the text books anyway! Every woman is different and therefore your period will never be exactly the same as another woman’s. That being said there is a range for what’s considered “normal”:

Cycle length can be from 21 to 35 days
Length of menstruation (bleeding) 3 -7 days

It is good to be familiar with the length and regularity of your cycle so that you can be aware of any changes. This is especially important if you are trying to conceive. Monitoring your cycle is one of the first steps in working out the best time to conceive and to know when you are ovulating. I’ll write more about this area in a separate post as it’s a whole subject in itself!

Your monthly period is divided into two parts; the Follicular phase and Luteal phase.

What is the Follicular Phase?

This is the first half of your cycle when oestrogen is at it’s highest. Oestrogen is the hormone that makes you feel young, energised, adventurous and spurs you into keeping an eye out for your potential “mate”. During this time your ovaries are producing follicles from which an egg will be released at ovulation somewhere around the middle of your cycle. As you get closer to this time your FSH (follicular stimulating hormone) levels will rise and you feel ready for anything, especially an alpha male to cross your path. Now is the prime time to conceive!

Your LH (lutenising hormones) levels rise around this time too getting everything primed for conception.

What is the Luteal Phase?

You are now in the second half of your cycle, the post ovulatory period. Oestrogen levels decrease and progesterone increases. The desire to stay at home, being quiet, nesting and nurturing yourself take over from the “go-getter” characteristics of oestrogen. Progesterone levels rise and then plateau until you start to menstruate which causes them to drop again. If you have conceived however the progesterone levels remain high and this is an indication of possible pregnancy.

Quality of Menstruation

So now you know a bit about the phases of your cycle let’s look at your menstruation to see what signs it’s sending out.

Blood Flow –
The first 1-2 days of your period are when the flow should be at its heaviest. It then most likely starts to slow down as each day passes. Any less than 3 days means that you’re possibly not having a “real” period. Your uterus may have shed some of its lining but the ebb and flow of all the relevant hormones may not have occurred as they should. To treat scanty blood flow, amenorrhea, with herbal medicine I use uterine and blood tonics and address any hormonal irregularities or stress.

At the opposite end we have menorrhagia or heavy periods. When the bleeding continues to be heavy for more than 5-6 days then I would look at what the underlying cause may be. Hormonal imbalance, fibroids, endometriosis and iron deficiency can often be the reason. Again herbs that help to stabalise hormone levels, reduce inflammation and cleanse the liver are ones I would prescribe.

Colour –
You are aiming for the same colour and quality of blood as if you’d just cut yourself. Fresh, bright red blood that is free flowing and without clots is optimum.

Blood that is dark red or brownish means that it is stagnant blood that has been hanging around probably from your last period. This kind of blood if often thicker too.

Small clots are common, similar to the size of a pea. When you start seeing larger clots coming out these can not only cause pain when passing through your cervix but also indicate stagnation.

I would treat a women in this case with uterine and circulatory tonics to increase the blood flow in the uterus. As always any hormonal imbalances would be addressed too.

Period Pain –
Is period pain normal? Essentially no! Some discomfort and mild cramping are to be expected. But if you find yourself curled up in bed unable to move with only pain killers providing relief, then no this isn’t a good sign.

There are many reasons why you might be experiencing period pain so your whole system needs to be assessed. Endometriosis can cause very painful periods as can PCOS (poly cystic ovaries). Magnesium deficiency can heighten the strength of the cramps. A congested liver often plays a role in period pain. When it’s not functioning properly the level of circulating hormones increases. This can lead to PMS and painful periods. A liver cleanse would definitely be indicated here!

If you would like to know more about how Herbal Medicine can help improve your period then please call 0406 628240

Learn what a herbal medicine consult with Nina involves by clicking here.

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