Let’s talk about what a normal period is. The word normal is a bit loaded these days. What’s normal has changed and there has rightly been a lot of pushback against outdated norms in many areas of society.
But when I talk about what a normal period is, I’m talking about what is biologically normal, rather than what is culturally normal. The cultural norm for our periods is the expectation of pain, maybe heavy bleeding and definitely emotional upheaval. It boggles my mind that we’ve normalised period pain. Pain isn’t normal and if we think about the period (and menstrual cycle) as a vital sign, it’s a message from our bodies that something is going on that we need to investigate.
So what is a normal period? We want it to be between 3 – 7 days: less than that means the endometrium has not grown thick enough and longer than that means that we’re losing too much iron and can be a sign of another condition such as fibroids.
The colour of the blood matters too. We want to see bright red (think cranberry) for the majority of the flow. Brown blood can be a sign of not enough progesterone, a lack of ovulation in the last cycle or can be old blood that wasn’t released during the last period. We also don’t want to see large blood clots. A few very small ones are okay, but too many can be a sign of an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone.
What about pain? A few light twinges and aches are normal. Remember: the uterus needs to contract to shed its lining. It’s when the pain is excessive, stops you from doing what you need to do or has you relying on painkillers to get through the day, you need to investigate further. Think of it this way: if you have 2 days of pain every period and have around 12 periods each year, that’s 24 days you’re potentially losing or not enjoying to the fullest. Nearly a month!
From an energetic perspective, it’s normal for energy to be a bit lower during your period. Our bodies are shedding something it’s spent 3+ weeks building up. What’s not normal is for energy to be completely depleted. You need to be able to do live your life, perhaps more slowly than normal. And you might have a more muted mood – less estrogen in the book means less serotonin and dopamine, but again, if you’re on emotional rollercoaster right before or during your period, that’s a sign that needs to be investigated.
What’s your period like? Was there anything in this article that surprised you? Tell me more in the comments.
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.