What is a normal menstrual cycle? It’s a question that many women seeking help with period issues wonder.
Whether it is period spotting, getting your period early, period cramping or you’re interested in tracking the menstrual and moon cycle, each individual experience is different.
There are, however, a number of red flags to indicate your period is not normal for you. Read on to find out what these are!
Painful periods and period cramping- an idea we have all accepted
It seems to be common knowledge that periods are meant to be painful and uncomfortable.
For many, it is the time of the month that is not fun, the time of crippling pain or discomfort. Period cramping is very common, but what are normal period pains?
A period should arrive and leave without you having to call sick into work or cancel plans with your friends.
Of course, there will be some sort of sensation happening as the uterus contracts to shed itself of the uterine lining, but that’s about it. ( Read about how acupuncture can help period pain here)
Often to others not living in our skin, our painful periods are deemed to be in our heads or easily fixed with popping pain medication for period and contraception. These are sadly band-aid solutions that no longer work once we stop taking those medications.
Pain medication for period problems is a stop-gap- they are not designed to address the underlying causes of your menstrual woes.
Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, mefanamic acid, or naproxen block prostaglandin production in the body. They are available over the counter from a pharmacy and are a common period pain medication for women. Codine is available with a prescription (and if you’re needing this level of support, it may be time to see how acupuncture can help you too :))
Some doctors try to help you manage your period cramping in the longer term by prescribing the combined oral contraceptive pill, or another method of hormonal contraception. These include the vaginal ring, contraceptive implant or a hormone-releasing intra-uterine device (e.g. Mirena).
Cycles that may last for days (or not!)
The length of the cycle is related so closely to the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
We are told that our cycle length can fall into a large range and that is considered normal. To ensure your body is producing the correct menstrual phase hormones at the right time, a cycle of 27-31 days is what we are after (for clarity,period spotting does not count as a bleed day).
This becomes so much more important when your fertility journey starts. Remember that day 1 of your fertile cycle, is also the first day you start your full period. Learning to keep track is so super easy these days with the plethora of period tracker apps available (However we recommend the Fertility Friend app here)
Getting your period early or your period late can indicate potential issues with fertility when the time comes to start trying ( find out more about how we support fertility journeys here)
What is the blood trying to tell you?
3-4 days of a nice medium bleed is great. 50-80mls the whole way through.
Period spotting is generally not considered a true bleed, and we like to calculate it from the first ‘proper’ day of the bleed (Watch our blog on how to track your period and basal body temperature here)
A good menstrual cup can help you measure this, and it is worthwhile trying a few different brands to ensure a good menstrual cup fit without leaks!
What about the quality of blood itself?
- Check the colour. Is it red, purple, dark red, pale pink, or brown?
- Has it got any clots or clumps? If so, what colour are they, what size are they and how many?
- Do you spot before or after your period starts? What is the colour and how much spotting?
What we consider to be a normal menstrual cycle bleed: Vibrant red blood throughout the period and then a day of tapering off on day 4.
If it is anything other than this rich red colour there can be internal issues happening, including digestive issues – not being able to absorb particular vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy bleed.
Clotting can indicate issues, and the size of the clots is important. spotting is also indicative of issues and may need to be addressed.
And of course- no period cramping is what normal looks like!
From a Chinese medicine perspective, at the root of all issues in your menstrual cycle, there is some sort of underlying health imbalance.
Stress can interrupt hormones, not having enough sleep can stuff up hormone production, and not getting adequate nutrition from your diet can muck up your menstrual cycle.
Other underlying issues may be undiagnosed endometriosis or adenomyosis or perhaps polycystic ovaries (PCO) or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) all conditions that can affect the menstrual cycle. (Check out our blog on how we address PCOS in Chinese medicine here)
Period pain acupuncture
Chinese Medicine can really deep dive into the state of your period, and this is what we love to do in our Melbourne acupuncture clinic!
This five thousand-year-old medicine has survived centuries to help modern-day women with period woes by understanding the root cause of the issues, rather than just focusing on symptoms.
Period pain acupuncture is especially good at treating the pain and stress associated with menstrual cramping, period spotting, painful breasts, PMDD, and endometriosis. Acupuncture is also wonderful for the fatigue and lethargy associated with a dysfunctional menstrual phase and may alleviate the need for pain medication for periods. ( Find out more about treating endometriosis pain here)
Your period can tell you so much about what is going on with your health, and your hormones are so easily affected by external and internal influences such as stress, diet, and sleep to name just a few.
When you visit our acupuncture clinic for a menstrual health assessment, we take a deep dive into your individual profile of health and give you specific advice designed to help you get over your period problems and get on with life as soon as possible.
PMS can really hit hard for a lot of people.
From physical signs such as bloating, bowel changes, and acne, to annoying symptoms such as mood changes, tenderness of the breasts, and food cravings.
Hormones play havoc with you one or two days before you bleed, or maybe even a week up until you bleed.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) may even be causing havoc in your life, which is a serious but treatable disorder ( we love helping women with some of the symptomatic relief of these issues in our acupuncture practice)
That isn’t fair and just like period pain, we have accepted that PMS is a normal part of your menstrual cycle.
It can make you feel like a crazy lady! But help is at hand.
What is your next step?
I am a health practitioner that loves to coach people toward a healthier, happier, carefree menstrual cycle, through many different holistic and integrative tools. Period pain acupuncture is one of my passions!
We see a lot of women for period pain acupuncture in our Moonee Ponds clinic in Melbourne, as a lot of local women need our help.
Check out our team of acupuncturists here, and have a chat with us about how we may be able to help you. We look forward to helping you live your life period pain-free!
Other posts you may like
Bookings for acupuncture
Book online here or phone the clinic on (03) 8394 7665 to book your acupuncture treatment today.
Our acupuncture clinic location
Qi Medicine acupuncture in Moonee Ponds: Find us on Google maps here:
We provide acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Melbourne to the North Western suburbs of Melbourne and are close to Highpoint. Qi Medicine acupuncture is minutes away from Ascot Vale, Essendon, Avondale Heights, Maribyrnong, and Brunswick West.
We also service many clients with acupuncture and Chinese medicine in Travancore, Flemington, Aberfeldie, and Maidstone. We are just 10 km from Melbourne city.