Are you bleeding at irregular intervals, mid cycle or during ovulation? Are your bleeds closer together or further apart than you think they should be (should be 28-35 days) apart normally. Do you know what a healthy bleed should look like?
One question that comes up time and time again with my clients, whether they come to me for a bodywork therapy such as a womb massage, or whether they come to me for Sympto-Thermal charting, is recognising a true bleed.
Once thing that seems to cause confusion is hormonal bleeds, implantation bleeds (in early pregnancy) and ovulation bleeds. So let's clear up a few myths.
So, how do we identify a "true" bleed. A true menstrual bleed happens when:
It happens after ovulation (any other bleed is where the endometrial layer has built up so much that it gives away.
You are not on hormonal therapy such as the oral contraceptive pill, coil, implant, injection or ring to name a few.
It is at least 3 days long.
It is a flow, not spotting for those three days (it may well fluctuate from light, to heavy, and back to light again).
It happens at the beginning of your cycle, usually two weeks after ovulation.
So let's clear up all other misconceptions:
"I am on the pill, but I also have a period" or "I take the pill to regulate my periods"
Unfortunately, this isn't possible. When you are on the pill, unless it is the mini pill, you are not ovulating, so it can't be a period. But the history of the pill is very interesting. When it first came out, many people couldn't get their head around not having a regular bleed. In some cases, they did not want certain religious or social groups to know they were no longer wearing sanitary products. As a result, the formulation was changed to produce a hormonal bleed, in this case known as a withdrawal bleed, as it results from a withdrawal of hormones.
If you were to miss a pill or come off the pill, then you will find that you have this bleed. It won't be a proper flow, you may get heavier spotting and it tends to be quite thin, and watery in consistency and darker in colour or very light in colour compared to a true period.
"I get a period around ovulation"
Again, this isn't a period, but some women to get spotting at this point in their cycle. It can be similar to a withdrawal bleed from the drop in oestrogen at this point in the cycle, and it can also be the endometrium has built up so much that part of it sloughs off.
This can be helped with further investigation as to whether it is hormonal, which is often best corrected by nutrition and lifestyle changes, or structural, which can be helped by Fertility Massage Therapy or Reflexology.
"I get a period, but it is really light"
I don't hear this very often. A light flow can be fine, as long as it is a flow and not spotting, a bright red colour and last at least three days. However, if it is really like a light pink or orange watery discharge or not even a flow, this is a sign that something is going on and if it doesn't resolve over the next few cycles, it does need investigating. If it is not part of peri-menopause, there are nutrition and lifestyle changes that can be made after investigating a bit more.
"I get a period, but it is dark, sludgy stuff"
This is very common and can present itself in many ways. If it occurs at the beginning, the end, or both ends of the bleed, then this can often be due to womb position. Wombs that are bent over are usually referred to as retroverted, retroflexed, anteverted or anteflexed depending on whether it is tilted forwards, backwards, and the degree to which it is bent.
If this is the case, it can be helped with womb massage, yoni steams and castor oil packs (see free stuff tab for free instructions on both). It can also be made worse if you are sat still all day with little pelvic movement, so standing up and going for a quick walk or doing big hip circles once an hour, not always wearing high heeled shoes, and being mindful, if carrying children on your hips can help.
Some people have this for their whole bleed and when this happens, there could be womb position issues, but there is also something else going on. It can be extreme hormonal imbalance such as very extreme oestrogen dominance, usually caused by synthetic oestrogen when on the pill or maybe an IUD or similar device. I have also seen similar reports in people who are very ill, which makes sense as the endometrium could be a way to excrete excess toxins in the body when other elimination channels are overworked. The good news is, in these cases it is often reversible with some TLC, nutrition and lifestyle changes, and if you are on the pill, it can reverse when you come off.
What Can I Do, And How Can I Start?
The first thing to do is to start charting your bleed (click on banner across the top of the page for a free cycle charting toolkit), how long it is, the consistency, colour, duration and texture. This gives you a starting point. Next is working out what you need to do. You can book in time with me via Skype or in my clinic in Guildford or you can check out this blog and my course Periodology to help interpret your bleed.
You can also start with some self care practices such as yoni steams, castor oil packs, good nutrition, exercise that is appropriate to you and getting enough sleep.
Find Out More:
Read more about How Stress Affects Your Periods
Read more about Signs You Period Needs A Helping Hand
Read more about Understanding the Root Causes of Your Period Problems
You can also find out more about your period, in my Periodology: Love Your Period course here.