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What does a normal menstrual cycle look like?

Here are the guidelines that I look for my patients to fall within for a healthy menstrual cycle and the fluctuations that indicate the need for attention.

 

Week before the period – Premenstrual Time

A normal cycle does not require there be symptoms or changes before menstruation begins.  A very mild brief breast tenderness or brief mild mood change is not very alarming, although still indicates a tendency to what we call Qi stagnation.  Lots of cramps, fatigue, bloating, back ache, headache, moodiness, constipation, and sore breasts are all symptoms of imbalance that can be treated with acupuncture and/or herbs.

 

The menstrual period

The flow should last between 3-7 days total, and going 2 hours or longer before needing to change a pad or tampon is an ok amount. Although heavier flow should not last more than about 3 days. Changing every hour and a half or less is considered too heavy, assuming a thicker absorbant is used.

Mild cramping sensation for a day or less can be typical, as long as it does not interfere with anything you’re trying to do.  If you are reaching for an over the counter pain reliever, this can be addressed naturally with acupuncture and/or herbs. Cramps again indicates stagnation, which means energy or blood flow is impaired.  Exactly what we specialize in with Chinese Medicine!

There should be no headaches, no nausea and no vomiting.

Bowel movements should not be constipated or loose or frequent (more than 3 formed).

Clots that are small and not painful to pass are ok and normal.  Clots bigger than a nickel or so, especially quarter sized or larger, are not normal. Pain with passing clots is also not normal and indicates an imbalance.

First color to last color longer than 7 days indicates imbalance.  Some spotting at the beginning or end of the flow can be ok as long as total color is 7 days or less.

Dark color, brown color or pale or pink color all are bits of information we use to diagnose the imbalances as well.

 

After the Flow

If you are really tired or weak after the period, or get headaches after, this indicates deficiency that is also important to address.

Day One to Day One should be from 24 to 33 days or so, with 28 being the average.  Shorter than that or longer than that can indicate imbalance that can be adjusted.  If you fluctuate month to month from the shorter end to the longer end of normal or more, this too is too much irregularity.

 

These are general guidelines.  Traditional East Asian medicine is well suited to identifying and treating smaller imbalances before they snowball into worse problems.

Don’t just suck it up

Let’s admit it, since it’s been a man’s world, there’s been a lack of sensitivity to the monthly cycle of women, and a culture of just suck it up, everyone deals with it.  If it were a woman’s world, i think we’d have 1 day a month to just rest.  Despite all the wonderful things chiense medicine can do, the day before or day one of our period can be a time of low energy and needing to hunker down and rest.  I don’t see anything wrong with that.  We don’t have to go go go 24/7/365.  However, if it’s a struggle for you every month, and you can’t do what you want to do without a struggle, then please know you’re not alone, and there are solutions.  And birth control is not the only option.

 

You deserve to be seen, to be heard, and to be cared forCall today to see if we’d be a fit to work together!

Here’s to taking back our Menstrual Health!

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