Ladies, did you know that your period is more than experiencing PMS symptoms and then bleeding every month? It actually holds a ton of information about your overall health and wellbeing, and can be a powerful tool for you to use to improve your health!
This blog will teach you more about your period’s daily cycle, why it’s considered a vital sign for your health, and how you can track it easily to get to know your cycle better.
But first I just want to say...
All humans need to get more comfortable talking about how we feel before, during, and after our periods! For too long we have felt shame, guilt, and awkwardness about our periods. This needs to change! I say embrace the complexity of your female body and honour your monthly cycles- I am here to support you and show you how to start.
So what does a menstrual cycle look like?
The average length of the menstrual cycle is 28–32 days, please note: timing can vary between women by a day or two on either end. As long as you are menstruating regularly (between 28-32 days) you are maintaining a regular menstrual cycle. The length of your menstrual cycle is calculated from the first day of your period to the day before your next period starts.
The menstrual cycle is complex and controlled by many different glands and the hormones that these glands produce.
Your menstrual cycle is comprised of four phases:
1) Menstruation: Day 1-5/7 is when you are physically bleeding.
2) Follicular Phase: Around the 5th-7th day of our cycle, ends with ovulation around days 12-16. During this phase, we feel most energetic, satisfied with less food, able to sleep soundly and handle stress in a more tempered manner.
3) Ovulatory Phase: Usually around day 10-16/17 this is when we are most fertile!!! When you want to have a baby you can improve your chance of getting pregnant if you know about ovulation and the ‘fertile window’ in the menstrual cycle. This is also important for young women trying to practice safer sexual practices to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Knowledge is power. We need to know our cycles!!
4) Luteal Phase: This is the longest phase of our menstrual cycle. From days 17/18 through Day 28/30. During this phase, your metabolism has naturally ramped up to support the energy requirements of your body. You may feel more fatigue, if you suffer from PMS you could feel symptoms begin (bloating, gas, irritability, mood swings, insomnia, water weight gain (1-5lbs), headaches are also common during this phase if hormones are out of balance.
We will need to eat more cooked foods, vegetable-based carbohydrates like squash, carrots, sweet potatoes and ensure we eat regularly, every 3-4 hours max. Water is also incredibly important here to help support our cells, hydrate our bowels and support adequate detoxification.
Why is your period considered the 5th vital sign for women’s health?
According to the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) and The American College of Obs & Gynaecologists (ACOD), the menstrual cycle should be monitored as the 5th vital sign for women’s health because it is a powerful tool to determine a women’s health status as a whole. Just like body temperature, heart rate, pulse, and respiration rate, your period literally provides information into your overall health.
For example: if you crave chocolate at the end of your cycle it could mean you are deficient in magnesium and therefore need to consume foods rich in magnesium ( tofu, pure chocolate aka raw cacao, dark leafy greens, fatty fish ( mackerel, sardines, salmon), just to name a few.
If your periods are short and light, this may suggest Estrogen could be imbalanced or low.
Estrogen is the all-important hormone required to create the endometrium each month. If you do not produce a certain amount of estrogen, your endometrial lining won't be very thick and, when it is shed, bleeding tends to be scant and for fewer days.
Younger women may have short and irregular periods as they enter puberty, because their hormone levels, including estrogen, haven't completely balanced out yet.
Older women approaching menopause may also experience irregular or short menstrual periods. As women age, their ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone and therefore the endometrium fails to form.
The first step in determining how your body works as an individual involves tracking your cycle. I love the Kindara app! It has a robust platform to track your period, symptoms, mood, flow, temperature, as well as gives you charts and a community to chat and ask questions- a great starting point for any woman wanting to track and learn more about their cycle.
Now you know how important your period is to your overall health, the differences between each phase, and how to start tracking it so that you can improve your health. I also hope this helps you build a new connection with your period and your body, reducing any shame or disconnect you may have been feeling about your period.
For more information about your cycle and feminine health join my Women’s Wellness Society membership waitlist! This membership is launching soon and will be packed full of women’s health tips, information, guides, recipes, and more, all geared to help women’s health from a holistic perspective. CLICK HERE to join the waitlist.
If you enjoyed this blog and want to learn more about women’s health from a Holistic Nutritionist, then join the waitlist for my new Women's Wellness Society Membership that’s starting soon! Click here. You can get a sneak peek at the membership in the video below.