Is it Normal? – The Menstrual Cycle

To most women, there is so much unknown information about what makes up a normal and healthy menstrual cycle. For so long, it has only been spoken about in hushed tones and whispers in locker rooms. (Except, of course, when the elementary schools sit us down as 4th graders on “Girl’s Night” to tell us that we are majestic unicorns, and that menstruation is a beautiful and glorious part of adulthood.) With so little free communication about it, maybe you are wondering if what you are experiencing in your menstrual cycle is considered normal.

While there is a lot of normal variability between the types of cycles that women experience, some things that you are noticing could actually be a sign of an underlying health concern.

So what is “normal”?

  • Mild cramping 1-2 days before starting a new period.
  • 3-7 days of bleeding at the start of the cycle.
  • Fluctuation in the length of the first half of the cycle due to stress, sleep patterns, sickness, etc.
  • Mucus discharge sometime in the middle of the cycle, typically stretchy, and clear or cloudy in color.

What is “abnormal”?

  • Multiple symptoms, such as bloating, cramping, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, or depression that appear more than 3 days before you start your period.
  • Bleeding that is outside of your normal pattern of menstruation such as in the middle of the cycle or days before your period begins.
  • Mucus that occurs throughout the entire cycle.
  • Mucus that is very gummy like drying rubber cement.
  • Or mucus that is pasty like hand lotion.
  • Debilitating menstrual cramps or pelvic pain.
  • Difficulty achieving pregnancy after 6-12 months of trying without the use of any contraception.


The Role of Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABMs)

FABMs are a collection of methods of family planning (means of avoiding or achieving pregnancy) that involve tracking your cycle to know when you are fertile or infertile. There are many method with varying effectiveness, based on how much training the instructors have, how much time a person learning the method spends with the instructor, and how sound the actual method is, among many other variables. These methods rely on a woman tracking one or more signs and symptoms of fertility in her body. You can learn more about the various FABM method at this site.

Creighton Model System

Through the Creighton Model System (CrMS) of FertilityCare, I began to learn to track my cycle when I was newly engaged. After personally using the method for a few years for family planning (to avoid and achieve pregnancy), I began a 13-month training program to become a Certified FertilityCare Practitioner (CFCP) and teach others how to track their cycle for family planning and/or for monitoring their health.

I have found in my time as a CFCP that many women assume that what they are experiencing is normal, simply because nobody has ever told them otherwise. By tracking their cycles, they begin to see the abnormal patterns (with the assistance of their trained instructor). With the Creighton Model, a practitioner can actually help screen for reproductive and gynecologic health conditions and refer the woman on to her medical provider, as needed.

In summary, there are many abnormal signs and symptoms that can present themselves when you begin to pay attention to your menstrual cycle. If you have any concerns, do not hesitate to follow up with your doctor. And if you feel that you would like to track your cycle a bit more closely, whether that is for family planning or for monitoring your health, you can find a FertilityCare Practitioner near you to begin learning!

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