What your period says about your health
Master your menstrual cycle for less PMS symptoms like cramps, bloating and more with practical tips.
Do you have a healthy menstrual cycle?
As women, our bodies are nothing short of magical. But thanks to hustle culture, social media’s highlight reel, and unrealistic societal expectations, it’s easy to take our physical being for granted. In turn, we get caught up in unhealthy behaviors. Think: too much exercise, inadequate rest, chronic stress, and under-nourishment. Combined, it’s the perfect storm.
However, taking care of ourselves is paramount. And this includes mastering your fifth vital sign—the menstrual cycle. Understanding your monthly rhythm (and syncing your lifestyle with it!) is one of the best ways to support your vitality and healthy hormones.
Without further ado, it’s time to treat your period as a guide for your life. We’re unveiling why the menstrual cycle is a window into your overall well-being, signs of a normal cycle, and red flags that indicate your hormones are out-of-whack.
Breaking down the menstrual cycle
Just like the seasons, a woman’s menstrual cycle has four distinct phases: menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal. We may feel more abundant (akin to spring and summer) in the first half of our cycle—the follicular phase—whereas we typically crave solitude (akin to fall and winter) as the luteal phase takes over. As a refresher:
• Menstrual: the start of your period.
• Follicular: 7-10 days leading up to ovulation.
• Ovulatory: 2-4 days of ovulation.
• Luteal: 10-14 days before your period starts again.
Why is the menstrual cycle considered the 5th vital sign?
Vital signs offer glimpses into our physiological well-being. Think: heart rate, body temp, and blood pressure. Often overlooked, the menstrual cycle does too! Specifically, it’s a spyglass into our reproductive health. The length of your cycle, severity of PMS, and the color of your period blood offer valuable clues about your hormones. Beyond that, they can indicate nutritional status and potential underlying health conditions.
Signs of a healthy cycle
As a whole, healthy menstrual cycle is characterized by the following:
- Regular menstrual cycles typically occur every 23-35 days, reflecting a harmonious balance of hormones. Additionally, you should ovulate about half-way through your cycle.
- Moderate blood flow
- The presence of a consistent flow (neither too heavy nor too light) indicates a well-regulated hormonal system. Most menstrual bleeding lasts 4-5 days.
- Minimal discomfort.
- Additionally, minimal discomfort or pain during menstruation suggests a healthy balance of prostaglandins, the compounds responsible for uterine contractions.
Signs your cycle is abnormal
So, what are red flags that signal potential health issues? Irregular cycles, excessively heavy or light bleeding, severe menstrual pain, and abrupt changes in cycle length. All of these can indicate a slew of conditions: hormonal imbalances, thyroid dysfunction, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), etc.
Ultimately, recognizing these signs allows for proactive health management. If you aren’t currently tracking your cycle, here’s your gentle nudge! Doing so will empower you to seek timely medical advice if you have concerns about your menstrual health.
How to Support Your Cycle
Not to sound like a broken record, but maintaining hormonal balance is pivotal for a healthy cycle. Below are five practical ways to support your overall hormonal system:
- Nutrient-rich diet:
- Incorporate whole foods: Focus on a diet rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Ensure you're getting essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and antioxidants, which play a role in hormonal balance! Need recipe inspo? We have you covered.
- Consistent physical activity:
- Engage in regular exercise: Regular physical activity is linked to improved hormonal balance. Aim for a combination of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises. Find activities you enjoy. This will help make movement a sustainable part of your routine. And when it comes to HIIT, more is not better.
- Stress management:
- Practice stress-reducing techniques: Chronic stress can contribute to hormonal imbalances. Incorporate daily stress-reducing practices—meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or mindfulness to help manage stress levels and support hormonal health.
- Adequate Sleep:
- Prioritize quality Sleep: Ensure you're getting sufficient and restful sleep each night. Sleep is crucial for hormone regulation, and a consistent sleep routine can positively impact hormonal balance. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.
- Use the power of seeds to support your cycle: Seed cycling rotating four specific seeds throughout your menstrual cycle to support the balance of estrogen and progesterone. When these hormones fall out of balance, we experience things like PMS, irregular cycles, sleep troubles, weight challenges, bloating, cravings, mood fluctuations, and more. These tiny but magic seeds contain nutrients that not only support our hormones, but also our gut health, blood sugar, brain health, and more. Learn more about our easy to use seed cycling blends here.