Every woman needs to understand her Menstrual Cycle and Period in order to understand her body. Menstrual Cycles have always baffled ladies, both young and old. Right from teenagers to ladies nearing menopause, every woman has countless doubts when it comes to monthly periods. The best way to handle your monthly roller coaster ride is by understanding and analyzing your cycles correctly. When you learn more about your body, you will learn to appreciate the marvel of God’s creation.
Every woman is unique and so is her body. So, it’s only natural that her menstrual cycle is different for those of other women. The average length of Menstrual Cycle is accepted and taught to be 28 days. This is only theoretical but in reality, the cycles can vary from anywhere between 21-45 days. In other words, it is completely normal for a woman to have periods every 32 days or 25 days, instead of the average “28 days”.
We are human beings and not robots. Women need to understand that the human body responds to stress and external factors in different ways. Though you may have learned that you are supposed to get your Period every 28 days, your body is not a machine and doesn’t always work in a clock wise fashion. Your cycle lengths can fluctuate from month to month depending on your ovulation and other factors. One month, you may get your period after 28 days but the next menstrual cycle may be 35 days long. This is also normal and you don’t have to panic provided your cycles are not absolutely irregular. When you ovulate late in your cycle, you menstrual cycle tends to be longer than the average 28 days.
However, if your cycles are always longer than 45 days, it may indicate that you are not ovulating. If so, it is a good idea to consult a doctor. Similarly, if your cycles are consistently shorter than 21 days, you need to consult a doctor to determine if there are any abnormalities specially if you are trying to conceive. Keep in mind that it is normal to have a very long cycle (>45 days) or very short cycle (<22 days) once or twice in year depending on stress and hormonal factors. When in doubt, always consult an Ob/Gyn.
It is a good idea to start tracking your menstrual cycles. Make a journal entry for each cycle. This will help you when you visit your gynecologist. Once you have begun tracking your Menstrual Cycles, it is a good idea to track your Ovulation. This will help you specially if you are trying to conceive.
Calculating the Length of your Menstrual Cycle
- The first day of your Cycle is the day your bleeding starts. Mark this day as Cycle Day 1 or CD 1 on your calendar. In the below example, June 2nd is the first Cycle Day or CD 1.
- Your menstrual bleeding will continue for 3-7 days. This bleeding is known as Period. Mark the days you bleed on your calendar. The number of days you bleed is known as Period Length and not Menstrual Cycle Length.
- The Length of your Menstrual Cycle (Menstrual Cycle Length or Cycle Length) is calculated as the number of days starting from the first day of your bleeding (CD 1) to the day before you start bleeding on the next cycle. In the example below, the next cycle starts on June 29th. Hence, the Menstrual Cycle Length is 27 days, starting from June 2nd to June 28th. Of course, this cycle length is not fixed and can vary from month to month.
Observing your Menstrual Bleeding
- Observe your menstrual bleeding for any unusual color. Normal bleeding is red in color. If you notice any dark brown bleeding, please consult your doctor.
- You may also have a few days of pink/red spotting before your actual flow begins.
- If your periods are exceptionally light or heavy, it could indicate anovulation or other potential problems.
- If your periods are consistently very heavy, it may be due to fibroids or endometriosis.
- Very light period could be due to insufficient endometrial buildup.
- A normal menstrual period typically lasts 5 days. If your period is often less than 3 days or more than 7 days, it is a good idea to consult a doctor.
- Menstrual period can either start as light bleeding, then progress to heavy and finally finish off with very light bleeding; or it can start as heavy bleeding, gradually reduce to medium flow and finally taper as very light bleeding.