Today, women’s personal and cultural views on menstruation vary greatly. Some may consider this a period of relief, inconvenience, detoxification, reflection, uncleanliness, or just painful and disruptive. We need to realize menstruation is a natural event and it is part of a women’s natural rhythm. It is a symbol of our connection with the rhythm of the moon and the earth.
The “Normals” of a Period
A girl will usually get her period around the ages of 10-16 years. In the beginning the cycle is sometimes irregular and anovulatory (meaning no ovulation). It then starts to regulate and balance out. Hormones are produced (Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Luteinizing Hormone (LH), Estrogen, and Progesterone) and follow a specific pattern. The rhythm of these hormones are separated into three phases:
Follicular Phase: Day 1- 14: Day 1 is the start of menstruation (lasting about 2-6 days). FSH matures follicles and produce estrogens. The endometrium thickens to prepare for the implantation of the fertilized egg.
Ovulation: Day 14: around Day 14 you get an increase of estrogen between day 12 & 13 which causes the increased secretion of LH and leads to ovulation. The basal body temperature rises about 0.5 degrees Celsius 1-2 days later and remains elevated until the end of the cycle. This temperature rise generally indicates that ovulation has occurred.
Luteal phase: Days 14-28: The developemnt of the corpus luteum starts to secrete progesterone and leads to an increase in BBT and an increase in mucoid secretion from the uterine glands. When fertilization does not occur, the corpus luteum degenerates and estrogens and progesterones decrease subsequently, resulting in menstruation.
During ages 40-50, menstrual irregularities can start in terms of frequency, duration, length, and volume as the body prepares for menopause.
There is physiological variance in this textbook pattern. The length of the cycle depends on the rate and quality of the follicular phase- the follicular growth and development. This varies between individuals. To assess each female cycle we often look at the pattern of:
Heaviest Day is usually Day 2
Volume is about 30 -80 mL
PMS Symptoms: cramps, cravings, mood, etc.
What does Hormone Irregularity look like?
We live in an environment and culture which exposes us to excess estrogens, environmental toxins (hormone disrupters), suppressed emotions, and a busy/stressful lifestyle. Each of our body’s react to these factors in a very unique manner, which determines our menstrual rhythm. We need to understand how these individual differences reflect overall health. We also need to understand how certain characteristics may be indicators for an underlying pathologic process or a predisposition to a chronic illness. At Insight Naturopathic Clinic, we assess your overall health, your sleep patterns, your energy levels, your blood work, laboratory tests, and more. We also pay close attention to bleeding patterns. These include:
Amenorrhea: lack of menstruation
Anovulation: lack of ovulation
Dysfunctional uterine bleeding: irregular, prolonged, excessive uterine bleeding with no cause
Dysmenorrhea: painful menstruation
Hypomenorrhea: scant menstruation
Intermenstrual bleeding: bleeding between periods
Menorrhagia: excessive, prolonged menstrual bleeding
Oligomenorrhea: infrequent menstruation or scattered menstrual pattern
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Polymenorrhea: frequent menstruation (ex. every two weeks)
In all these cases, it is essential to regulate its hormones, adrenal glands, thyroid, and ovaries; and optimize liver and kidney elimination functions. If you are experiencing any of these conditions, or would like more information about hormone balancing and menstrual regulation, contact us at 416-322-9980