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 Fertility Massage Therapy or they come to me for Natural Family Planning is recognising a true bleed.
One thing that seems to cause confusion is hormonal bleeds, implantation bleeds (in early pregnancy) and ovulation bleeds. So, let us 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 build up so much it gives way.
You are not on hormonal therapy such as the oral contraceptive pill, coil or implant
It is at least 3 days long
It is a flow not spotting for those three days (it is likely to go from light to heavy to light again, but a definite flow is expected
It happens at the beginning of your cycle, usually two weeks after ovulation
So let’s clear up all the other misconceptions:
“I am on the pill but have a period”
This isn’t possible. When the pill first came out, many people couldn’t get their head around not having a regular bleed (and in some cases didn't want social or religious groups to know they were no longer requiring sanitary products), so the formulation was changed to produce a hormonal bleed, in this case known as a withdrawal bleed. If you 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” or watery and darker in colour. If you don't ovulate, then there is no menstruation.
“I get a period around ovulation”
Again, this isn’t a period and some women get spotting. But this isn’t infact supposed to happen and is usually a sign of a hormonal imbalance that can be corrected by diet, lifestyle and Fertility Massage Therapy as well as other things.
“I get a period but it is really light”
I don’t hear this so much anymore but a light flow is fine, as long as it is a flow and not spotting, a bright red colour and lasts at least three days.
“I get a period but it is dark sludgy stuff”
Now this is really common and is caused by several things, a womb that is “bent over” or what we say is in either a retroverted or anteverted position, which can be corrected with massage, castor oil packs or yoni steams. This tends to be the case if it is dark and sludgy either at the beginning of the bleed, the end of the bleed or both. This is often caused by being sedentary all day, sitting (and even standing with poor posture) and even wearing high heels (shockingly common cause).
Some people get this throughout the whole bleed. This is often caused by oestrogen dominance and is really common in women on the pill, coil or anything else containing synthetic oestrogen, but can occur in women post pill or who have general hormone imbalances. This can be corrected by coming off the pill (or other oestrogen based contraceptives) and if you aren’t on the pill anymore, by following a good diet and lifestyle.
So, What Can You Do?
If you don’t already, start charting your menstrual bleed if not your cycle. But noting when your bleed occurs, how long for, how often, the flow rate and appearance, you can see what is really going on and whether the pill or other factors such as diet and lifestyle make any difference.
To find out more about self care such as castor oil or yoni steams, you can get my FREE Self Help Guide to a Healthy Womb by signing up at the top of the page.
Find Out More:
How Stress Affects Your Period
Why I Don't Like Ovulation Predictor Kits
Why Period Pain Isn't Normal and What You Can Do About It
Find out more in the Periodology Course.