What should my menses be like?

Introduction
Many young women undergo puberty without knowing what her menstruation is about. A period, or menstruation, is the shedding of the endometrium – the lining of the uterus. This shedding of endometrial tissue from the womb is then released through the vagina. This cycle is largely controlled by your hormones released by the pituitary gland in the brain. However, with the amount of artificial hormones and genetically modified organisms in our food intake from young, it is affecting our body much more than our ancestors. Today, it is a norm coming across modern women experiencing abnormality in their cycle but unaware of the oddity. Hence, we list how a normal shedding should be as our period is a telltale sign of our reproductive health.

Timing
Some women menstruate like clockwork, while others report never having had a regular cycle. A textbook period happens every 24-29 days. If you happen to bleed only once every few months, your irregularity might be regular for you but make sure you have it checked with a Gynae. If you happen to miss one or two periods, it may be due to an underlying reason which can be anything from stress, eating disorder, pregnancy to hormonal imbalance or PCOS. Get it checked immediately if lasts more than three cycles.
Menstruation is a major stage in a girl’s puberty. A girl’s periods normally arise between 8 to 16 years of age. On average, they start when a girl is about 12. It takes about 6 months to establish a more consistent cycle.

Volume
During a woman’s period, her blood flow may feel like cups of blood gushing down for days. However, in the majority of cases, the amount of blood lost is actually 5-12 teaspoons(10-35ml). A period generally lasts about 5 days. Bleeding tends to be heavier during the first 2 days. Watch out if you tend to bleed a lot or lasts more than 7 days.

Color
We see a wide range of normal menstruation blood color and it might differ every month. The color of the blood is a reflection of your internal health, according to Chinese medical practice. Some bright red, pink, brown or almost black towards the end of menses. As blood stays out of the blood vessels for some time, it begins to change its color. The black or brown color might just be normal menstrual blood that has changed its color as it passes through the cervix into the vagina. Be on the look out if your menses start out dark or your entire period consists of black or brown menses.

Consistency
It may have the normal viscosity as blood from a bleeding finger or it could be watery and thin. It may also be thick and sticky. Likewise, from a TCM perspective, it is based on your body constituents and differs from people to people. Normal menstrual blood should not carry any offensive odor. If it smells bad, it may be a sign of genital infection. Good menstrual hygiene should salvage such situations. Most importantly, No, blood clots are not normal. If you consistently experience large multiple blood clots along with pelvic pain, you should see your doctor for medical evaluation. Common triggers to watch out for are early pregnancy complications, menorrhagia, fibroids and endometriosis.

Discomfort
Changes in your body’s hormone levels before your monthly period can cause physical and emotional changes. All women experience this one way or another. Other than bleeding, accompanying symptoms include abdominal or pelvic cramping, lower back pain, bloating and sore breasts, food cravings, mood swings and irritability,headache and fatigue. These symptoms usually improve when your period starts and disappear a few days afterwards. While drugs are not necessary to suppress the symptoms unless it gets out of hands, we recommend visiting a Chinese physician to have a proper assessment and relieve the symptoms with natural approach.