7 Signs that prove You Have a Healthy Period
by Allison Clark, Women’s Health Expert and AURA collaborator
Just like nobody is exactly the same, no two women have the same period. While many women consider their period a monthly pain in the ass, several experts consider the period a woman’s fifth vital sign because it acts as your monthly health report card. Our bodies are telling us things all the time, and we just need to listen to it. Unlike men, we women are lucky to have our periods which let us know our health status!
So what’s going on down there and what’s normal?
First things first, contrary to popular belief, ovulation and not menstruation is the start of your cycle. Without ovulation (due to an anovulatory cycle, PCOS, hormonal birth control or other causes), your body doesn’t produce progesterone, which is very important for bone health, keeping us calm, lightening periods, protecting against cancer, and reducing inflammation. Ovulation is not just about getting pregnant. It’s the only way our bodies can produce progesterone. Note: being on hormonal birth control like the pill suppresses ovulation. Therefore, the bleeding you experience is not a true period but rather withdrawn bleeding, which is caused by the drop in synthetic hormones causing your uterine lining to shed.
So what is a healthy period?
- Your menstrual cycle lasts 25-35 days.
The length of your menstrual cycle should stay consistent month to month and not vary several days from one period to the next. What can vary is the follicular phase length, which includes the first day of your period and the days leading up to ovulation, whereas the luteal phase stays fairly consistent lasting 11-17 days. So no, not everyone ovulates on day 14 of their cycle!
The follicular phase is very sensitive to stress and nutrient deficiencies because if your body senses stress or danger, she isn’t going to drop an egg to get pregnant. Long cycles could indicate PCOS, insulin resistance which delays ovulation, thyroid dysfunction or high levels of stress hormones.
- Your flow is not too light and not too heavy.
Ideally, your flow consists of 20-80ml each period, which equates to just a few tablespoons of blood each period. Super heavy periods can indicate more serious health conditions such as adenomyosis, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, or excess in estrogen.
- There are little to no large clots.
Clots mean that the blood hasn’t had a chance to be exposed to the blood’s anti-clotting agents. If you consistently see large clots (larger than the size of a 1€ coin) during your period, it could be a sign of a more serious condition such as endometriosis.
- You have little pain.
Contrary to popular belief, severe cramps, bloating, sciatic pain, and headaches are not normal during your period. You should not be bent over on the bathroom floor and popping several pills of ibuprofen throughout your period. If you are in severe pain, unresponsive to pain medication and unable to go to go throughout your daily life, it could be a sign of endometriosis, adenomyosis, pelvic infection or ovarian cysts. Ideally, you should have mild cramping and warm sensations the first day or two of your period.
- You don’t suffer from major mood swings or fatigue.
PMS is not normal! Major mood swings and fatigue before or during your period are likely due to hormonal imbalances.
- The color of your flow is bright red start to finish.
Color changes correlate to the speed of blood flow. So a bright red color means the blood is flowing at a good rate and that the iron in the blood has not been exposed to much oxygen unlike brown coloured blood. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that red blood is a healthy sign that there is healthy circulation and no stagnation in the uterus.
- You only bleed during the 2-7 days of your period.
Days 1-2 of your flow should be the heaviest day of bleeding and you should not spot before your period or throughout your cycle. Ideally your period comes and goes without much fanfare. If you bleed or have spotting during your luteal phase, it’s called breakthrough bleeding and is often caused by low progesterone levels. On the other hand, some women experience light spotting during ovulation which is normal.
Keep in mind, that while these are general signs of a healthy period, what may be normal and healthy for you may be slightly different than what’s mentioned below. What matters most is regular ovulation and consistency from one cycle to the next, and as always consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.
How seed cycling supports a healthy menstrual cycle:
When there’s an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone, you can experience PMS, irregular periods or unhealthy periods. Seed cycling helps bring balance back to your menstrual cycle by eating different types of raw seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower) during the follicular and luteal phase of your cycle.
While there may not be a ton of scientific evidence to support seed cycling for healthier periods, the seeds contain chemical compounds called lignans which bind to excess hormones to help re-balance your system. As an added bonus, they also contain essential fatty acids which help the body synthesize hormones. Bottom line, adding more seeds to your diet provides several health benefits such as reducing inflammation and nutrient density in addition to possibly balancing hormones. Here’s how it works:
Follicular phase: Day 1-14+ (first day of period until ovulation): eat 1-2 Tb of ground flaxseeds and 1 -2 Tb of ground pumpkin seeds to support your body’s estrogen production.
Luteal phase: Day 15 - to the day before your period: eat 1 Tb of ground sesame seeds and 1 Tb of ground sunflower seeds to help your body’s progesterone production.
Ways to incorporate seed cycling into your diet:
- Add raw seeds to smoothies
- Sprinkle them in yogurt, oatmeal, soups and salads
- Add them to raw dessert recipes
- Enjoy them on top of toast, meat or fish
- Make seed cycling energy balls
Seed cycle energy ball recipe:
Serving size: 14-15 Balls
Prep time: 15 minutes
- 1/2 cup organic nut or seed butter of choice, preferably no sugar or oil added (almond, cashew, tahini, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed)
- ¼ cup dairy-free milk (oat, almond, hemp, coconut, etc)
- 2 Tb whole chia seeds
- optional add ins:
- 2 Tb raw honey or 3 dates* (optional depending on taste)
- 4 Tb collagen powder* (optional but adds protein. I like Vital Proteins or Great Lakes)
- 2 Tb raw cacao powder (rich in minerals and antioxidants
- 2 Tb maca powder (helps support female hormone balance)
- 2 Tb shredded coconut
For Follicular Phase:
- 1 cup organic, raw, flax seeds, ground
- 1 cup organic, raw, pumpkin seeds, ground
For Luteal Phase:
- 1 cup organic, raw, sunflower seeds, ground
- 1 cup organic, raw, sesame seeds, ground
- Grind seeds in a coffee grinder and add to a bowl.
- Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix until well combined.
- Add more nut milk if the dough is too try.
- Roll the dough into 14-15 balls with your hands and place them in a glass container in the refrigerator.
- Eat 1 energy ball a day.