Is your period normal?
What is a normal cycle?
Having a menstrual cycle is healthy and natural. Defining what is “normal”, however, is more difficult as cycle length, bleeding length and phase length can vary considerably from female to female and even between women of a similar age.
Generally speaking, a typical menstrual cycle is defined as 21-35 days in length, with 2-8 days bleeding at the beginning of the cycle and ovulation occurring roughly in the middle.
What is the purpose of the menstrual cycle?
The purpose of the menstrual cycle is to prepare the body for a possible pregnancy, so it is essential for reproduction.
But the hormones that circulate throughout the menstrual cycle are also really important for general health and well-being.
What causes disruptions?
Sometimes menstrual cycles can be longer or shorter than you expect. This is often caused by an increase in stress on your body.
Some common examples include disturbances to circadian rhythms, e.g. traveling across time zones; an increase in psychological distress; poor sleep; anxiety; long periods of fasting; a sudden increase in exercise intensity and being in a continual energy deficit (taking in less fuel than you use).
What about dysfunctions?
Where a cycle is not “normal,” there may be an underlying dysfunction present. If you are frequently missing cycles or have a very irregular cycle, you should speak to your doctor.
Some menstrual cycle dysfunctions include heavy menstrual bleeding (heavy periods); amenorrhea (loss of a period); endometriosis (endometrial tissue outside the uterus) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS – a hormonal disorder).
Why track our cycle?
By tracking our periods and knowing what happens to our bodies, we can begin to recognize patterns in our cycle. This will help us to identify any irregularities, fuel correctly, feel better and train smarter every cycle. Small changes can lead to big results!
To learn more about how our hormone levels change throughout the menstrual cycle, check out my upcoming posts on estrogen and progesterone!