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Understanding Your Period: What Is Normal?

menstrual periodWhile menstruation is a natural process and a normal part of reproductive health, the variability in menstrual cycles and periods can sometimes lead to confusion about what is considered “normal.” Let’s look at a typical menstrual period, covering aspects such as duration, flow, and associated symptoms.


A typical menstrual cycle lasts around 28 days, although cycles can range from 21 to 35 days and still be considered normal. The menstrual period usually lasts between 3 to 7 days, with variations common among individuals. Factors such as stress, hormonal fluctuations, or underlying health conditions can result in irregular cycle length or duration of menstruation.


Menstrual flow can vary in intensity and consistency throughout the duration of the period. At the beginning of the period, it’s common to experience heavier flow, including passing blood clots. As the period progresses, the flow typically becomes lighter.

On average, individuals lose about 40 milliliters of blood during their entire period, though this can vary. Using pads, tampons, or menstrual cups can help manage your flow. You shouldn’t have to double up and use a pad and tampon or change your tampon every 2 hours on your heaviest days.

Color and Consistency

Menstrual blood can range in color from bright red to dark brown, depending on factors such as the flow rate and how quickly the blood exits the body. It’s normal for menstrual blood to change color and consistency throughout the period. Fresh blood tends to be bright red, while older blood may appear darker. Additionally, menstrual blood may be mixed with cervical mucus and tissue shed from the uterine lining, giving it a slightly thicker consistency.

Associated Symptoms

Many experience symptoms associated with menstruation, collectively known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). These symptoms can include bloating, breast tenderness, mood swings, fatigue, and mild cramping. While PMS symptoms are common, they shouldn’t be too severe or debilitating. Severe or debilitating symptoms may indicate underlying conditions, such as endometriosis, and should be discussed with your naturopathic doctor.

Signs of Abnormalities

While variations in menstrual cycles and periods are normal, certain signs may indicate an underlying issue that requires medical attention. These signs include the following:

  • Extremely heavy or prolonged bleeding (menorrhagia)
  • Severe and debilitating pelvic pain or cramping
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) without pregnancy
  • Sudden changes in menstrual patterns

Understanding what constitutes a normal menstrual period can help individuals better monitor their reproductive health and recognize potential abnormalities. While variations in menstrual cycles and periods are common, it’s essential to be aware of any changes that may signal underlying issues.

Maintaining open communication with your naturopathic doctor and seeking medical attention for concerning symptoms are vital steps in ensuring optimal reproductive health and well-being. Remember, everybody is unique, and what is normal for one person may differ from another.

If you’re interested in learning more, we invite you to book an appointment with Dr. Tina Canto, Naturopathic Doctor.


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