Periods come and go every month. And, they bring along a whole lot of things that make our life miserable – menstrual cramps, mood swings, bloating, and what not! In short, they are an absolute pain. Sometimes, those cramps become so painful that we end up popping an ibuprofen or some other painkiller.
Periods are a natural biological process, yet most of us consider discussing this topic a taboo. They are one thing you must never ignore if you want to be healthy.
The menses are more or less like snowflakes – no two women have exactly the same kind of periods. While some experience very heavy and short periods, others have light bleeding for a longer duration. Some women don’t even get it regularly. What you need to know is a missed period is not always an indication of pregnancy. It could also be a symptom or signal of some major abnormality in your body. Thus, it is very important to keep track of hormonal changes in your body and pay attention to the way you are bleeding.
So, how do you decode whether your menstrual cycle is normal or not? To figure this out, you need to ask yourself these questions: How many pads or tampons do you typically use every day? When you change your pads, are they totally soaked or a bit soiled? How many days does your period last? Do you get it regularly? How is the flow – is it too heavy or normal?
You need not get completely involved in it and record the data in your diary – normal observation is more than enough. You need to understand that your periods and their symptoms indicate a lot about your health. So, let’s see what your periods are telling you about your body and health.
1. The Menstrual Pain
It is no secret that periods are painful. According to a survey, almost 70% of women suffer from abdominal (uterine) pain, cramps, and bloating during their menses. The worst part is, most of us think that it is very normal while the case is otherwise. We feel the pain because every month our uterine muscles contract and release to push the blood out, and this contraction causes pain. But, if you are experiencing such pains frequently or say every month during the menses, it’s high time you visit your gynecologist.
Painful periods could be a symptom of endometriosis, vaginal scarring or fibroids.
2. Heavy Flow
Normally for any woman, periods are usually heavy during the initial few days, and eventually taper off towards the end. The flow varies from woman to woman. So, how do you determine whether your flow is heavy or not? If you’re changing your pad or tampon every 2 or 3 hours, your flow is heavy. However, if you change your pad almost every hour and if this continues for around 7-8 days, your period is no more in the zone of heavy flow. It can be termed as ‘abnormally heavy’. It happens either due to shortage or excessive menstruation regulating hormones estrogen and progesterone. If you’re using 2-3 sanitary napkins a day, your flow is normal.
A heavy flow could be a symptom of infection, hemophilia, blood thinners, hormonal imbalance, fibroids or even brain tumor. So, if you notice a change in your menstrual flow, immediately consult your doctor.
3. The Menstrual Color
Knowing the color of your period is actually very helpful in determining your hormonal health. We usually experience three color patterns during our periods. While bright red is considered normal, brown and dark black are considered abnormal.
- If your flow is bright and saturated red, like cranberry juice, it indicates that you have a normal period.
- If your flow looks like a strawberry jam, it indicates low estrogen levels. This can even lead to vaginal dryness, fatigue, low libido, and hair loss.
- If your period flow looks like frozen and mashed-up blueberries, it indicates that your estrogen level is high. It is usually noticed in women who experience abnormally heavy flow.
4. The Menstrual Cycle
A normal menstrual cycle must follow a 28-35 day duration. You must count from the first day of your period, and if the cycle repeats in the same time frame, your menstrual cycle is normal. Apart from pregnancy, if you miss your periods frequently, it might be an indication of a thyroid problem or hormonal imbalance that can cause cysts to grow in your ovary. Sometimes, it is also caused due to stress. In such cases, you must visit your doctor.
5. The Menstrual Duration
A normal menstrual cycle lasts for 3-7 days, where you bleed heavily during the first 3-4 days. But, if the bleeding is poor during this time, it is not normal, and you must consult your doctor.
We hope these pointers will help you know your body better. If you have any doubts or queries, you can post them in the comments section below.