Many women feel a sense of annoyance or dread when it comes to their menstruation. I think this is in part because we're not taught from the onset of menarche that our periods and cycles tell us so much about our overall health. Instead, we immediately find convenient ways to hide that auntie flow has arrived, the old tampon up the sleeve or back pocket trick.
Unless you have heavy bleeding, an extreme amount of pain or no periods at all, you are told your periods are fine. However, there is a great variety in the area of fine and it is important to pay attention throughout the month to what our bodies are telling us.
Before we dive in, it's important to understand what is meant by the term cycle or reproductive cycle.
HEALTHY SIGN #1
The first sign of a healthy cycle is that the length of your cycle is the same from month to month. The healthiest cycle length is 28 days long. In Chinese medicine, a cycle that is every 26 to 32 days is considered within a healthy range. A cycle length that is any shorter than 26 days or longer than 32 days is not optimal and measures to regulate the cycle are recommended. The regularity of the cycle is very important and if the cycle range greatly varies from month to month, this is considered abnormal.
Chinese medicine largely emphasizes the body being in balance and therefore a cycle length that is consistent and within a narrow range is considered optimal.
HEALTHY SIGN #2
The second sign of a healthy cycle is a healthy period. According to Chinese medicine, here is what your period should look like:
The growth of the endometrial is mainly from the hormone estrogen that rises starting from the beginning part of your cycle to ovulation. A thick, nutrient dense lining is optimal for implantation and can provide a great deal of insight into your hormonal health.
HEALTHY SIGN #3
The third sign of a healthy cycle is one in which there is no spotting or bleeding that occurs at outside of menstruation. If you are experiencing spotting or bleeding between periods, this is considered abnormal. Some woman experience spotting mid-cycle around ovulation or prior to the period starting. Western medicine differs with Chinese medicine principles which stresses that an ideal cycle is free of spotting at any point during the cycle.
There are variety of causes that can cause abnormal bleeding or spotting and it is important to contact a health care provider if you are experiencing symptoms.
If you are trying to conceive and you experiencing light spotting around the time of implantation is considered normal.
HEALTHY SIGN #4
The fourth healthy sign is a cycle in which you do not experience any PMS symptoms. From a Chinese medicine perspective, PMS symptoms are considered abnormal and indicate imbalances within the body. Common symptoms are headaches, breast tenderness, mood changes, fatigue, acne, food cravings or aversions, cramping, loose or constipated bowels, gas, bloating, stomach/intestinal cramping, dizziness etc.
These symptoms are not considered just part of being a woman, getting a period or suffering the normal hormone changes of the month. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms it indicates hormonal imbalances within the body. Changes to lifestyle, diet and seeking out therapeutic measures such as herbs, supplements and acupuncture are effective options to address hormonal imbalances.
HEATLHY SIGN #5
The fifth sign of a healthy cycle is changes in cervical fluid during the beginning part or follicular phase of the cycle. After menstruation and before ovulation, the progressive increase in estrogen levels stimulates the cervix to secrete cervical mucous. The thickness and amount of cervical mucous changes from the stages of watery, creamy, sticky and finally egg white during the time of ovulation.
The vagina is naturally acidic in order to kill bacteria and prevent infection. Sperm prefer an alkaline environment and the release of cervical mucous creates an environment and passageway for sperm to travel to the egg.
Production and changes of cervical fluid during before and during ovulation is not only important for conception but shows a healthy hormone balance as well!
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About the Author: Marie Gonzer, LAc.DiplOM
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