We all know the annoyance and frustration that can come with the arrival of a period. When you’re in high school, it can ruin prom or a sleepover with a new friend. But as we get older, our relationship with our cycle changes. It can even become a welcoming sight proving that our bodies are healthy or that we’re ready for babies. There are a lot of things our cycles can tell us about our health and a lot of reasons it’s important that our cycles are right on track.
How do I know if my period is normal?
Chances are if your period seems normal to you, it probably is. However, if you begin experiencing pain, longer menstruation or heavier flows than you have previously, that may be a hint that something is off and a good reason to visit a gynecologist. Here are some good, loose markers of a normal menstrual cycle:
- Menstrual flow occurs somewhat consistently every 21 to 35 days
- Menstrual flow lasts between 2 to 7 days
- Menstrual products keep you protected for at least 3-4 hours most days
- Cramps occur consistently each month and are not debilitating
These markers of a normal cycle are very general because having a normal period is something only you can really decipher. Does your period always last 3 days? Then that’s normal for you. Does your period always last 7 days with a heavy flow at the beginning? Then, that’s normal for you.
When should I be concerned about my cycle?
If you miss more than three periods and do not think you could be pregnant, you should see your doctor. There are many reasons this may happen including being over or underweight, having very low body fat, exercising excessively, being stressed or having a syndrome like PCOS.
Another time to check in with your doctor would be if you notice a significant change in your cycle. This is why it’s a good idea to track your period, even if you aren’t actively trying to conceive.
Why do our menstrual cycles matter?
Our menstrual cycles can let us know when something is off with our bodies. If you’re having incredibly heavy periods (aka needing to change your protection every 1-2 hours,) you could have fibroids or endometriosis.
Just as our cycles can tell us if something is off, regular menstrual cycles let us know that our bodies are working normally and that our ovulation is normal. If you’re trying to get pregnant, it can be imperative that your ovulation is on track and that you’re aware of when you’re at your most fertile during your cycle. Even if you have a condition like endometriosis that may affect your fertility, knowing your ovulation schedule is something that can be worked out with your doctor to help increase your chances of getting pregnant.
How do I ensure my menstrual cycle is regular?
The best thing we can do to have healthy cycles is ensure that we’re being healthy in our day-to-day lives. Things that help this include maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, reducing stress where possible, taking care of our mental health and getting to know our bodies.
While there’s no way to prevent some things that may affect your menstrual cycle, like fibroids, for example, knowing our bodies will help us to know immediately when something is off and to seek proper care to get our health on track.
Have more questions about missing a period or irregular cycles? Check out our blog post on what it means to miss a period. Here’s to happy, healthy cycles!