Normal Periods: healthy menstrual cycle Basics 101

Everyone is different and If you are wondering what a healthy menstrual cycle looks like or if yours is healthy or not, keep reading. There are some guidelines you can look out for to gauge if you’re a healthy lady.

Markers like cycle length, spotting, color, and flow can be great points to look at for a healthy period cycle! especially if you want to determine your hormone health report card.

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Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and should not be taken as such. I am not a doctor and do not claim to be as these are solely based on my experiences. Please consult your family doctor before considering any recommendations listed in this post. Thanks!

What does a healthy menstrual cycle look like?

Cycle length

The length of your cycle will vary from woman to woman. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone’s cycle will be 28 days long, that is just the average. However, a healthy cycle length would be in the realm of 23-35 days long. Anything shorter or longer than that should be cause for concern.

Piggybacking on cycle length, the luteal phase length should also be on your radar if you want to optimize your fertility chances. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, the luteal phase is the latter half of your cycle. A short luteal phase (less than 10 days) can be a sign of low progesterone and high stress. Typically caused by over-exercise.

You can determine the length of your luteal phase by charting your cycle. Learn more on how to do that here.

Spotting: normal or not

Spotting prior to bleeding is, in fact, not normal. Typically, a sign of low progesterone but can also be a sign of high estrogen. This leads to an offset ratio of estrogen to progesterone.

Women with healthy cycles can expect to start their bleeding to flow lightly/moderately. Then it progressively gets heavier throughout the days and then taper off at the end.

If you need to use liners before every cycle because your flow isn’t quite heavy enough for a pad or tampon, consider that spotting.

What’s your color?

What does a healthy menstrual cycle look like in terms of color? The color of your period has some significance as well. A lot of women can be taken back by darker-looking menstrual blood so let me clear some things up for you that are very normal:

First few days of bleeding: blood will be darker in color (brown/dark red) because as your period begins, it starts slowly. Blood takes longer to shed and make its way down to the cervix and exit. It is darker in color due to air oxygenation (the longer it is exposed to air, the darker it is)

Days 2-4 bleed becomes heavier: as your flow becomes faster it will appear brighter red in color as it doesn’t have as much time for air oxygenation to occur.

Last few days: Blood will return to being darker in color as flow slows.

What does a healthy menstrual cycle look like? This is a healthy period cycle and what to expect from the colour of your flow


Clotting on heavier days of bleeding is normal and should not be a cause for concern as it is a result of cells and tissue of the endometrium shedding.

How flow can you go

Now let’s talk about how much you can expect to bleed and what is an appropriate amount of blood to lose. Depending on the person, the average amount of blood to lose Is 30-60 milliliters or about 2-4 tablespoons.

What does a healthy menstrual cycle look like? Here is a healthy period cycle and what to expect in terms of amount of flow

Lifestyle factors affecting your cycle negatively impact your cycle

Some of the lifestyle factors that contribute to a healthy period cycle. I’ll preface this paragraph with-you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be good enough. Being in the fitness space I feel like a lot of influencers and coaches project this perfect life and perfect diet. However, know that social media is a highlight real. Even the things I am going to list below should not be taken to an extreme and be approached as an 80/20 rule. This means 80% of the time you are on top of things and the other 20% you can give yourself some grace to make choices that may not align with your hormone-balancing goals. That is ok.

Your nutrition is off

Nutrition is a very large part of hormonal balance. Choosing foods that are whole, minimally processed, and sustainably sourced should be a part of that 80%. Additionally, building meals that are BALANCED, meaning there is a protein, complex carb (includes fiber), and fat source. This will balance your blood sugar levels and avoid any insulin spikes resulting in afternoon crashes and messed up hormones.

You can check out my recipe page for inspiration on nutritious meals you can make for yourself and your family. I promise they taste good!

You aren’t moving your body

Movement is such an amazing way to help balance your hormones! However, so many women avoid it, especially on their period when they should be utilizing it! Exercise helps with your mood, blood sugar balance, and even cramps!

As an online CPT, I like to recommend my clients listen to their bodies. This usually means syncing their training routine to the phases of their cycle. Our cycle has a large role in energy ebbs and flow throughout the month. Therefore, there will be weeks where we lay off the volume and intensity to focus on more recovery.

In the follicular phase (first half of cycle) women are better equipt to handle higher stress workouts like heavy weights. However, in the latter half when progesterone takes the lead, focusing on lighter workouts has shown to be more beneficial. From a hormonal standpoint, it makes a lot of sense as cortisol (our stress hormone) will be prioritized over progesterone. Too much stress can lead to too little progesterone and thus hormonal imbalances.

You’re stressed out

STRESS KILLS! This can negatively impact what a healthy menstrual cycle looks like. It is one of the most common things I see with women and out-of-balance hormones. Stress (cortisol) is necessary for our overall health in appropriate quantities. However, when we are chronically stressed we see hormonal issues.

  • The cycle may become irregular
  • Period is late
  • More intense PMS

To combat high stress levels practice habits like meditation and deep belly breathing. This will help access your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest mode). Doing these habits once or twice a day can help you achieve a healthy period cycle.

How to get your period healthy again?

If you want to heal your cycle and get your hormones in check, don’t use the pill. The pill will only mask the underlying issues that are at play. However, if you want to heal your cycle naturally, here are some tips to do that:

  • Get your nutrition in check

No, you don’t have to be perfect. Two main focuses should be to eat whole nutrient-dense foods, balanced meals, AND enough calories. I see a lot of ladies undereating which can translate to a poor hormonal profile.

  • Move your body

Daily exercise of something you enjoy and incorporating strength training a few times a week makes a huge difference! Learn why strength training is a must for the ladies here.

  • Semi-Sync with your cycle

Cycle syncing is a very big trend these days and there are a lot of benefits to it! However, I find it unrealistic to stick to the long term. Just do your best

  • Get some help

No shame in asking for a helping hand. Most times it’s needed to help navigate through all the questions you’re having! I would be happy to help you out🙂

Closing thoughts

While we are all very different, I hope this gave you a good understanding of what a healthy period cycle looks like! If your cycle is not healthy right now, don’t sweat it, just implement these easy tips and you will be on your way!

A free discovery call with me is available if help is something you are looking for. Otherwise, my Instagram page is FULL of free helpful tips for you to use and get that healthy period cycle back in check.

-Hailee xx

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  1. How I wish every girl child could read this article and understand their cycles. I will be sharing it with my grade 10 learners. Thank you for such an informative article

    1. i agree with you 100%. I appreciate you spreading the information! all women and girls deserve to know this!

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