Here’s a secret: the perfect period doesn’t exist. Although every woman in their reproductive age wants to have a normal and healthy menstrual period—ideally one without troublesome premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, breast tenderness, mood swings, heavy bleeding, or severe pain from menstrual cramps—many things can impact the monthly cycle, including age, health issues, and hormone levels. Some people’s cycles even change from month to month! The truth is that some menstrual cycle symptoms we’d all rather not deal with are just unpleasant side effects of a normal cycle. But if period pain, menstrual bleeding, and PMS symptoms vary from person to person, how do you know when things are normal and when they’re not?

Regular periods create a wide variety of physical and emotional symptoms, depending on the person. However, there are certain signs and symptoms which can help you recognize whether your period is normal or whether you should consult a health care provider. Keep reading to learn the characteristics of a normal menstrual period, how to recognize abnormal bleeding, and what health conditions your period might point to.

5 Signs of a Healthy Period

A healthy menstrual period is characterized by a few specific signs. Generally, normal cycles have:

  • Average cycle length
  • Typical menstrual blood flow rate
  • Standard period duration
  • Minimal PMS component
  • Characteristic mid-cycle cervical fluid

Let’s dive into each sign of a normal, healthy period.

Cycle Length

While you may have heard that typical menstrual cycles are 28 days, normal cycles can be longer or shorter than this length. In fact, normal menstrual patterns can be anywhere from a 24-day cycle to a 38-day cycle. (1)

There are some factors which can impact your menstrual patterns, including:

  • Age: Adolescent girls usually have longer and inconsistent cycles, while older women have shorter and consistent cycles. This is due to differing levels of hormones as women age.
  • Contraception method: Birth control pills, intrauterine devices, and other hormonal methods of contraception can impact your monthly cycle. Some people don’t even get a period while using contraception! If you’re experiencing menstrual cycles outside of the typical cycle length while using contraception, you should ask your doctor about what normal cycle length for the type of contraceptive you are using.

Menstrual Flow Rate

We’d all like a barely there, light period, but a normal, common period usually has a strong flow for the first day or two. The appearance of your period blood matters too—blood should be bright red for the first few days, almost like cranberry juice, and you might notice light pink or brown blood towards the end of your cycle.

Period Duration

Normal uterine bleeding typically lasts between 4–7 days. (2) However, if you notice abnormal bleeding, like a strong flow after 7 days or inconsistent spotting throughout your cycle, you should contact your gynecologist.

PMS Symptoms

Some people think a normal period should have no PMS symptoms at all, but a complete absence of PMS symptoms might actually be cause for concern. The role of hormones in your cycle means some menstrual cycle symptoms are destined to appear before your period.

While some PMS symptoms are normal, severe PMS symptoms that hinder your daily activities are not, so it’s a good idea to consult your gynecologist if you experience problematic periods.

Cervical Fluid

DId you know your cervical fluid predictably changes throughout your cycle, and can even indicate when you’re ovulating? The color and texture of your discharge should change from dry and sticky to creamy to clear to egg-white throughout your cycle. (3) If you’re noticing significant amounts of cervical fluid or strangely colored vaginal discharge, you may want to consult your health care provider.

Causes of Abnormal Menstrual Cycles

It’s important to pay attention to your menstrual cycle, because abnormalities can be a sign of a medical condition requiring professional attention. If you’re experiencing an abnormal period, it’s likely a result of a hormone imbalance. Hormone imbalances can cause some people to have abnormal uterine bleeding, even missing or having irregular periods. They can also make it difficult to get pregnant. Hormone imbalances can arise for several reasons, including:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The presence of cysts in the ovaries can cause normal hormonal levels to become overly high.
  • Premature menopause. Normally, menopause—the time when the body stops releasing eggs—occurs around the age of 50, but some people experience premature menopause, or menopause as 40 years old. Menopause’s effect on hormones causes the body to stop having periods completely.
  • Thyroid malfunction. Hyperthyroidism (increased activity of thyroid gland) or hypothyroidism (decreased activity of thyroid gland) can cause hormonal imbalance.
  • Being overweight or underweight. Being highly overweight or underweight can put you at risk for health problems, including problems with your menstrual cycle. That’s because a healthy weight helps maintain many hormonal functions in the body.
  • Stress. The hypothalamus, a major part of the brain which controls hormonal functions, is greatly affected by stress. Stress can prevent the hypothalamus from working properly which can eventually affect the body’s hormonal balance.

Other causes of abnormal periods include:

  • Use of contraceptives. The use of hormonal birth control methods is often associated with the absence of menstrual bleeding. In fact, women who use birth control may experience missed periods for 3–4 months even after they have stopped taking contraceptives. It takes time for the menstrual cycle to become normal after the use of contraceptives.
  • Medications. Certain medications (both over the counter medicines and prescription medications) can cause missed periods or amenorrhea. (4) For example, cancer chemotherapy drugs, antidepressants, anti-hypertensives, antipsychotics, and anti-allergy medications can all cause problematic periods.
  • Lifestyle factors. Poor sleep, illness, travel, or a new diet or exercise routine can all temporarily impact your menstrual cycle.
Causes of Abnormal Menstrual Cycles

Additional Risk Factors for Abnormal Uterine Bleeding

Unfortunately, not every cause of period irregularities is within your control. These risk factors increase your chance of experiencing an abnormal menstrual cycle: (5)

  • Family history. Women with a family history of irregular menstruation may be at a higher risk of experiencing irregular menstruation themselves.
  • Excessive athletic training. Research shows that rigorous athletic training can cause disruptions in the menstrual cycle. (6) In addition, amenorrhea (delayed or absent periods) is very common in athletes who undergo strict physical exertion on a daily basis.
  • Eating disorders. Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia can cause you to have irregular periods due to excessive weight loss

5 Easy Ways To Normalize Your Period

If you’re living with irregular menstrual cycles that differ greatly from a common period, you may wonder what you can do to normalize your cycle and improve your reproductive health. Fortunately, there are numerous dietary habits and lifestyle changes which you can incorporate in your daily routine to normalize your menstrual cycle, including:

  • Practicing yoga. Researchers have confirmed yoga is a very effective method for dealing with menstrual abnormalities. (7) Just 30–40 minutes of yoga, 5–6 days a week can help normalize the hormones which may be causing your irregular periods .
  • Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight. As discussed above, being overweight or underweight can greatly disrupt your menstrual cycle. A normal amount of regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat more ginger. Ginger has been proven to reduce period cramps and excessive menstrual bleeding, but it may also help regulate the menstrual cycle. (8) Although more research is necessary, the support ginger provides to those dealing with severe period cramps is a significant enough reason to give it a try for period regulation, too!
  • Ensure good intake of vitamins. Low levels of vitamin C have been linked to irregular periods and increased susceptibility of vaginal bacterial infections like bacterial vaginosis and urinary tract infections. (9) Taking supplements fortified with vitamin C, like Happy V’s cranberry pills for vaginal health, is not only a good health choice, but it can help support a regular menstrual cycle.
  • Incorporate apple cider vinegar in your diet. Research shows drinking just 15 milliliters of apple cider vinegar a day can help to cure PCOS and its associated symptoms, ultimately normalizing the menstrual cycle. (10)
Easy Ways To Normalize Your Period

Get Your Cycle Back on Track With Happy V Products

Tired of dealing with abnormal menstrual cycles, heavy periods, and severe cramps? Happy V’s research-backed products are here to help you regain hormonal balance and kick problematic periods to the curb. It’s time to make a health choice that supports your body from the inside out. When you’re ready to improve your reproductive health, try Happy V.