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The Ins and Outs of the Normal Menstrual Cycle

Every individual is different and so is every menstrual cycle. Both between and within individuals, we can expect some variability.


Ultimately, at Fortify Health Coaching, we want you to get to know your body.


To understand abnormalities better, we need to get to know the normal menstrual cycle. Keep in mind, for this blog post we are discussing baselines for women post puberty and in their pre-menopausal years.


Normal Cycles


  • Length: 21-35 days (day 1 being the 1st day of bleeding of one period)

  • Luteal phase (day of ovulation to menstrual bleeding) of 11-17 days indicating ovulation and a healthy amount of progesterone production

  • Ovulation: Occurs around the middle of the cycle

  • Bleeding length: 3-7 full days 

  • Blood volume: ~25 - 60 mL of blood loss for the entire period, which is ~6-10 tampons

  • Ovulation Spotting (lasts 1-2 days)

  • Color: Bright or dark red, pink or reddish brown 

  • Clots: No, or occasional small clots less than or equal to a dime (about 1 inch)

  • Pain: Minimal pain and cramping, some pain or cramps when you are ovulating (also known as Mittelschmerz) can also be normal 

  • PMS: Mild shifts in mood and energy leading up until and during your cycle

 

Baselines help us differentiate between typical and optimal, furthering the goal of working with the body and listening to it when it “talks.” 


You can see from the above parameters that for example when you see people referring to a normal cycle being 28 days long, they are referring to an average based off population data. You are your own N of 1, and it is so important to get to know your body.


If your menstrual cycle deviates from normal, it is due to some type of shift in your internal or external environment. When discussing tracking and monitoring all biofeedback (sleep, digestion, HRV, weight etc.) with our clients, we feel it is important to emphasize that it is simply “feedback.” Not every shift or change requires you to make a drastic change to your nutrition or lifestyle. Sometimes it’s just about taking note of what could have impacted why your body is responding with or in XYZ way, and carrying on as usual with your nutrition, training programming, sleep schedule, stress management practices and all other health foundations we talk about at Fortify Health Coaching. 


For example, if your period is 5 days later than your typical cycle length one month, you might go back to what happened earlier in the month ( or in the months prior as your current cycle is reflective of your last 90+ days) and note that you were wrapping up a big project at work that had you working late in the evening several days in a row. That increase to stress and decrease in sleep time might have delayed ovulation and shifted your cycle a bit later than usual. In our opinion, this is simply something to note and continue tracking your cycle.


 Life happens, and we aren’t after “perfect” biofeedback. What we are about is responding with awareness and taking empowered action in all areas of our lives to show up as our best selves. Which in the situation outlined above, may mean clapping yourself on the back for kicking butt with your career goals, or it might mean reflecting and seeing if you can set better boundaries in the future. All the while, perhaps consider sending your body a little thank you for communicating with you. 


In addition, you can occasionally fall outside this normal and still be “normal.” Which is why we are looking to track changes over time. If in the last 6 months you are experiencing things outside of regular ranges, your personal normal has shifted or you are experiencing any symptoms that are impacting your life - it is something to dive into.


Approaching menopause would be a normal reason why your period and menstrual cycle are shifting. If you are on hormonal birth control, recently post birth control, on certain medications, pregnant or breastfeeding - we would expect you to fall outside of these normal ranges.


At Fortify we are here to help you improve your health and quality of life with a holistic approach. We help identify the root cause of your health and fitness concerns and empower you with tools and guidance to begin your path forward. 


Reach out about our coaching and consultation services, and let’s get to work! 


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