I know that this post won't apply to many of you, but I still thought that it was an important topic to put some information out there on! I watched Turning Red in March and it's prompted me to talk about menstruation even more than I normally do.
As a Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto, I'm quite surprised how little many of my patients know about menstrual cycle, what a normal period is, and when they might be fertile. So, here's the low down!
Menstruation shouldn't hurt. Period cramps are very common, but not normal. They are telling you that there is something out of balance in your body and they can usually be fixed.
A person with a uterus & ovaries should bleed about 1x/month, assuming they're not on continue birth control pills or have a hormonal IUD. A 26 day menstrual cycle can be totally normal, as can a 35 day menstrual cycle. What is important is that we figure out what's normal for you. If you're bleeding more or less often than that, it's worth looking into further.
The amount of blood expelled during a menstrual cycle is variable from person to person. We definitely want a period to be more than a day of spotting, but we also don't want you leaking after 2 hours! The colour of the blood should be bright red, and ideally there shouldn't be many clots - we'd prefer the free flow of blood rather than having it sit around clotting.
Assuming ovulation is happening, we'd like 12-14 days after ovulation before your period comes. Ovulation shouldn't be painful. A person is only fertile for a few days leading up to and the day of ovulation. Figuring out when/if someone is ovulating is a bigger task which deserves its own post, but again please reach out directly if you have questions in the meantime!
PMS is a sign that things are out of balance. Once again, ideally your period should come without much warning. Moodiness, changes in bowel movements, bloating, skin changes, breast tenderness, headaches, etc are all things that I like to work towards eliminating.
Last but not least, periods can change over the years and generally that's ok. A post-partum body can act totally differently. During peri-menopause, things may stay consistent or they may change drastically.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask me!