Because periods are still unfortunately such a taboo topic, many of us don’t know what’s normal and what isn’t. And we end up accepting things that we necessarily shouldn’t because we’re taught they’re culturally normal.
Before we get into what a normal period looks like next week, I want to back up and talk about what a normal menstrual cycle is. Firstly, our menstrual cycle and our period are two very different things. Our menstrual cycle can be anywhere from 21 to 35 days, and starts on day 1 of our period and lasts until the day before our next period starts. Our menstrual cycle includes our period, and the three other phases: follicular, ovulatory and luteal.
During each of these four phases, we see changes in:
- internal body temperature
- attitudes to risk
- willingness to try new things
- cervical fluid
- the type of exercise we favour
- the strength of our immune system
If you’re cycling naturally, that is, not using hormonal contraception, then it’s perfectly normal to not feel the same every day of your menstrual cycle. There are days where you’ll be full of energy and enthusiasm and then there are days where you may find yourself wanting to turn inward and go slower. I feel that when we embrace these cyclical changes, we change our expectations about ourselves, moving from a 24 hour cycle to a longer cycle of 21 – 35 days.
You’ll notice that I’ve written 21 – 35 days, not 28 days. Only a small percentage of us have 28 day menstrual cycles. It’s perfectly normal for your cycle to vary by 1 – 3 days each time. Our menstrual cycle is one of our vital signs and when it changes, it’s a reflection of what’s going on in our inner and outer worlds. For example, stress has a huge impact on our menstrual cycle and either shortens or lengthens it. Illness, travel, including across multiple time zones, lack of quality sleep and nutrient deficiencies can all have an impact of our menstrual cycle.
Do you know what a normal menstrual cycle is for you?
Knowing more about your menstrual cycle and embracing it can benefit you in so many ways.
Firstly, I encourage you to download one of the many period tracker apps out there and start tracking your menstrual cycle and symptoms. At the very least, you won’t be surprised when your period arrives every month #whitejeansallyear
After a few months, you’ll start to get a sense of the length of your cycle. Once you know when your period is scheduled to arrive, you can then start to understand what’s going on for you during the other three phases.
Knowledge is power. Knowing the ins and outs of your menstrual cycle can help you manage it better.
Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCHNC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones.
Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.
Her first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released in spring 2022.
Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! If you’re looking for support with your hormone and menstrual health, click this link to book a 30 minute health review to talk about working together.