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As a woman, your menstrual health is something you should always be concerned
about. When you are between 11 and 14 (on average), you will get your first period,
which then starts your regular menstrual cycles. If you are currently an older woman,
you are well aware of how this works, but might not be aware that what you are
experiencing is abnormal.
A Normal Menstrual Cycle
The term ‘normal’ is a little subjective when it comes to your menstrual cycle because it
can vary between different women. What you are really looking for is your own patterns,
and whether they change suddenly or not. Many people like to say a menstrual cycle is
28 days long, but it is not unusual for it to be considerably longer or shorter. The
important thing is to look at changes that happen suddenly, such as missing a period
completely or having several months where the length keeps changing dramatically. In
a ‘normal’ menstrual cycle, you should ovulate around the same time each month and
have the same type of flow.
Healthy Menstrual Period
When you get your period, there are more things to look at to ensure it is a healthy
menstrual period. Typically, you will bleed for 4-6 days, but again, this can vary.
However, if you have a month where the flow is shorter or less overall than usual, you
might want to tell your gynecologist. Some common issues that might warrant a visit to
your doctor include a lighter or heavier flow, blood that is much darker than it typically is,
blood clots, and excessive pain when you did not experience it before.
Don’t Ignore PMS Symptoms
PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, can also vary based on the woman. Some women
start experiencing PMS symptoms around the time they get their period, while others
have it worse on random months. This latter is what you are looking for. If you have
always gotten a little moody and headaches before your period, it is nothing to be
concerned about. However, if you are suddenly getting severe cramps, extreme mood
swings, aches and pains, and migraine headaches when you never did before, that is
something to tell your doctor. These PMS symptoms might be from hormonal changes,
stress, and other factors that need to be addressed. PMS changes are also signs that
your menstrual cycle may change as well.