7 Things You May Not Have Known About Your Period

What does a normal menstrual cycle look like? (Hint: it can vary a lot!)

What does a normal menstrual cycle look like? How long should a period last? What colour should it be? If you’re not sure about any of these questions, we’ve got your back. Here’s what a normal menstrual cycle looks like (hint: it can vary a lot)!

The Basics

  • A normal period is 3-7 days, though slightly shorter or longer is alright as well, as long as you’re regular.
  • An entire menstrual cycle should be 25-35 days. This is the time that passes from the first day of one period to the first day of next period. Again, this can vary slightly, and is still healthy if you’re regular.
  • 25-80 mL of blood is the normal amount of blood for a period. For your reference, a fully soaked regular size pad or tampon holds about 5mL of blood. If you think you bleed more or less than this range, it’s worth having a chat with your doctor about.
  • Ideally, your periods should start with a fresh red color. Brown blood is a sign of slow moving blood, which could be caused by a tipped uterus – this may slow down the flow of menstrual blood leaving the body. The blood then becomes brown in color due to the oxidation process. Additionally, this malposition makes it harder for the uterus to expel all the blood, so you may see brown blood flow or spotting from a previous cycle.” This may be accompanied by pelvic pain, menstrual cramps, constipation, and low-back pain during your period. The blood should have a consistency like high-quality maple syrup—that is, it should flow easily.

Are Blood Clots Normal?

Yes! Period blood that is clotted; clumpy; that looks like blueberry, raspberry, or blackberry jam; or that is pasty like mud could be indicative of estrogen dominance and progesterone deficiency. Period blood that is thinned out, too little, lighter in color, and pink rather than red could mean there is an estrogen deficiency.

What’s Not Normal?

This may come as a shock to many, but many symptoms of a period are not normal, including:

  • PMS
  • Period pain
  • Mood swings
  • Bloating
  • Spotting more than 1-2 days before your period
  • Extreme fatigue

Debilitating emotional symptoms before a period can be indicative of PMDD. If your period pain disrupts your life or you need more than one dose of ibuprofen, that could be indicative of an underlying problem, like too much inflammation or endometriosis. 

Period Flu

Yep, it’s a thing! The menstrual cycle is definitely tied to the immune system and many women experience flu-like symptoms in the leadup to their periods because their immune system isn’t as robust in the second half of our cycle. It’s been hypothesized that around ovulation time and into the second half of the cycle, the immune system function becomes suppressed so that the body doesn’t reject sperm. And then if you do become pregnant, your body also doesn’t reject the embryo. We aren’t as resilient as we are in the first half of our cycle and are susceptible to these kinds of symptoms because of this. Oftentimes, women experience body aches, joint pain, feel super tired or wiped out, feverish and have headaches.