Ask Sofia: What is a healthy menstrual cycle?
You’re probably not surprised to hear that your menstrual cycle can affect everything from your mood to your sleep, and your energy to your appetite. While there is no “perfect” period, a normal menstrual cycle—the first day of one cycle to the first day of the next—will range from about 25 to 35 days and may shift as we age. Naturally, birth control, pregnancies and peri-menopause can also change the length and symptoms of your cycle.
Typically, your period should last between three days to a week and may involve some cramping, breast tenderness and bloating, but you should not be in extreme pain. If your period is lasting more than seven days or the flow has notably increased, if you have to change your tampon or pad hourly, or if you are in severe pain, please contact your doctor.
“A healthy menstrual cycle can cover a lot of ground and may look very different from your first period to your last,” said Dr. Erin Stevens. “The more familiar you are with your cycle, the easier it is to determine if something else is going on, so it really helps to pay close attention to your body and your monthly cycles.”
To track your menstrual cycle, pay attention to the duration of the total cycle and how long your period lasts as well as any breakthrough bleeding between periods. Note the heaviness of your flow and any pain you might be experiencing. All of this can help your doctor assess the situation and make recommendations as needed.