A period cycle, or menstrual cycle, occurs monthly (every 21-35 days) in women during their reproductive life. This process is due to the ovarian hormones that fluctuate before and after ovulation, such as estrogen and progesterone. Tracking and understanding your cycle can give you useful information about your fertility health and your chance of pregnancy.
What is Actually Happening During Your Menstrual Cycle?
First, an immature egg produces estrogen by the stimulus of the Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH). Estrogen acts by invigorating the cervix to produce mucus and by building up the lining of the uterus. Once ovulation has occurred, progesterone from the ovary keeps the lining of the uterus steady from 9 to 18 days. Therefore, the amount of bleeding during menstruation is a reflection of what had happened hormonally during the cycle.
What Does Normal Menstrual Flow Look Like?
Every woman has a unique pattern of menstruation, but what is healthy for a woman trying to get and sustain a pregnancy? A normal length of menstrual bleeding is between three to seven days. At least, a day of heavy or moderate bleeding is optimal.
A normal menstrual flow results in about 30-60 mL of blood loss (2-4 Tablespoons or one regular tampon every two hours). If you notice excessive and heavy bleeding where you are losing 80 or more milliliters during your period (menorrhagia), you should consult your doctor. It could be a sign of an endocrine disorder or intrauterine abnormality.
Light bleeding without the presence of medium to heavy flow is not considered a regular menstrual period and could be due to contraceptive use or some endocrinological issues that must be investigated.
Tracking Your Flow
Use the following as a guideline to determine your menstrual flow as Heavy (H), Moderate (M), Light (L), Spotting (S) (light red) and Brown (B)
Menstrual Flow vs. Spotting
It is important to differentiate other types of bleeding different from menstruation such as red light spotting after your LH peak is detected. It could mean “high fertility” as a healthy sign, or it could be an abnormal sign such as another hormonal gland that is not working properly. When tracking your menstrual flow, do not include spotting. Begin with the first day of regular flow.