Know Your Cycle: Menstruation aka "The Period"
We're wrapping up this month's feature on understanding the female cycle with what we all know and associate the female cycle with - menstruation aka "The Period."
What is menstruation:
Many of us think this part of being a woman can be a drag, but it's actually a pretty cool window to physically glimpse at the inner workings of our body. This offers us a very unique advantage for addressing issues and promoting optimal health!
Menstruation is the official day 1 of the cycle. As you learned last week, the luteal phase can either end in pregnancy or menstruation. If we don't get pregnant, our progesterone levels drop, and this is what causes the uterine lining to shed - incomes the blood shed.
Aside from the actual menstruation, this phase also indicates the first part of the follicular phase in which follicles begin their development as mentioned previously.
Knowing your pattern is helpful and relevant in determining reproductive and overall health (ie. fertility, ovarian & breast health, diabetes, and cardiovascular health) . When you become aware and start to address any issues with your cycle now, you can improve your quality of life in many ways, pre and post-menopause.
Average duration 5 days, with rages typically from 3-7 days
Average heaviest day is the 2nd
Average blood loss is 45.5 mL (average light flow = 15.2 mL, heavy flow = 114.4 mL) *If you are curious to know exactly how many milliliters you shed, check out the nifty device mentioned in our weekly challenge below!*
Spotting (mid cycle bleeding) occurs in 4.8%, lasting on average 1 day
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective:
Menstruation in TCM is the result of the movement of blood and qi (energy). The focus during this time is to ensure smooth flow and preventing or eliminating anything that can block/ stagnate blood or qi.
As menstruation is part of the follicular phase, the focus will shift after the period to building blood/ yin back.
How to incorporate:
Your challenge for this week is to check out a nifty gadget called the Diva Cup. This is an environmentally friendly way for us manage, and measure our periods without creating unnecessary waste and consuming natural resources.
A note on comfort foods - cravings are not necessarily a bad thing during our periods. It's actually a way that our wise bodies tell us which foods are best for us. Our bodies need rich, nourishing (to help start rebuilding our blood, and lining), and warm foods during this time (warm foods help with the movement of blood and qi as cold causes stagnation in TCM theory). Unfortunately mimics of these are found in processed, sugary and fatty foods.
Instead, remind yourself that comfort can also come in yummy stews, curries, casseroles, whole grains, and root vegetables.
If you have any questions, have a conversation with your local naturopath :)
Dasharathy, S. S. et al. Menstrual bleeding patterns among regularly menstruating women. (2012). American Journal of Epidemiology, 175(6), 536-545. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3299419/
Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash