I have met a lot of women who have been menstruating for several years, yet, do not know what is normal and what is abnormal menses: the knowledge that girls should have at their fingertips as they attain puberty. If you are a woman, or a parent of prepubertal girls, you need to know these details so that you won’t get anxious over nothing. Husbands and fathers too are welcome. Let’s go…
We all know blood is red, but menstrual blood can look not-so-red sometimes. It can be pinkish, like mucus with a tinge of red (especially on the first day and last 2-3 days). It can be brownish. It can be very dark red, almost tending towards black. If you look more closely, you can find some debris within the blood too.
This varies widely from person to person. It can just be a little drop, or it can measure up to 80mls per cycle. I’m not asking you to start squeezing your pads and taking measurements in a beaker o! Just study yourself and take note of any changes in the number of pads you use per day/cycle. Ideally, there should be no clotting of the blood (sounds ironical, right?). Clotted blood is tantamount to heavy bleeding.
Normal range is 1-7days; average of 5days. Again, study yourself. If you usually menstruate for 1 day before, and then it suddenly begins to gush for 7days in a row, then you should be worried. Also note that duration (and volume) of menses may be unstable in the first 5 years of menarche (age at menstrual debut) and towards the stage of menopause.
It should be midway between watery and thick. It should be slimy, because it contains mucus. Like I said earlier, if you see clotted blood, be worried.
If you have slaughtered ram or chicken before, you already know what blood smells like. Menstrual blood should be similar to that. If you use tampons, don’t leave it in for too long, otherwise it will begin to smell really bad. Pads should be changed frequently too (average of 8 hourly), otherwise, the smell becomes stronger. Poor hygiene, pelvic infections and cancer are some of the causes of malodorous menses.
Normal menstrual cycle should be pretty regular. The first day of each cycle refers to the first day of menstruation (LMP). Therefore, a cycle is the duration between the first days of two menstruations (Got it?). Any cycle between 21 and 32 days is normal. The average is 28 days. So you see, if your LMP was May 1st, and your cycle length is 21 days, it means your next menses will start on May 21st or 22nd. Whoa! That’s like twice a month!!! No, darling, it simply means that YOUR OWN MONTH is just 21days long. Enjoy it!